Saturday, November 28, 2009

This business of Christmas gift giving


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Learning & Innovation

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

This business of Christmas gift giving


Indeed, Christmas has become big business.


I just received an invite to the annual PMAP Christmas party with instructions to bring a gift worth P200 for the exchange.  I am anticipating that most will bring a give-away from their organization. Some will simply buy anything because you don't know who will receive your gift anyway. As in previous years, everybody will be asked to form a circle and as the music plays, instructions will be given—pass to your right, pass to your left, etc.  Ho-hum.  I could use my P200 to get better entertainment or to make a Typhoon Ondoy survivor have a merry Christmas.


I am attending to see long-unseen friends, to practice the centuries old tradition of killing time in a party (e.g. Look at what she is wearing!  Her eyeliner is bleeding, she has a new breast,  he is wearing a new toupee, where is he working now, he recently got sacked, look at how they flirt, etc.), and to win one of those umbrellas or calendars come raffle time.


To enliven our exchange gift custom and make it more Christmassy, here are some useful gifts ideas.  I also suggest that you buy these at bazaars and tiangges to help our small businesses.  Greenhills Mall, Farmers Market, Metrowalk, BF Ruins, Baclaran, Dapitan, Evangelista and your neighborhood wet-and-dry market are some good places—there are many others.  I am not sure who really owns the stores in 168 or Divisoria Mall or if they are Filipino entrepreneurs.


          Tomato sauce and parmesan cheese

          Christmas tree decor

          Home-made sauces and bread spread

          Home-made processed meat

          Itlog na pula

          The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren

          Hard plastic box that floats in floodwater

          Shoe box and shoe tree

          Boxes for your cherished pictures and other memorabilia

          Tickets to the movie Christmas Carol for the whole family

          Books by Eckart Tolle, Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom

          Landers Firming Lotion

          Ponds facial foam and cream

          Flashlight with LED bulb

          LED light bulbs

          Gift check for Ricky Reyes Hair

          Hand sanitizer

          Flower arrangement from Dangwa

          Red or white wine from South Africa or wine made from local materials like rice

          Meal or wooden tray

          Premoistened towelettes

          Glass canister filled with tea or coffee bags

          A basket of bread from Pan de Manila or Pugon de Manila

          Salad dressing and serving spoon

          Subscription to The Manila Times

          Subscription to Kyregma

          Heavy duty whistle with a necklace

          Cucumber-and-apple salad in covered glass bowl

          Stored value ticket for MRT or LRT

          Jars to collect things in

          (Any language)-Filipino-English dictionary

          Towel with nickname of recipient

          Any native craft or needlework


Gift hunting could be an exhilarating experience when you are excited about giving and about the person to whom you are giving the gift.  Enjoy!;


Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to gift or do we really need to gift?


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, November 21, 2009


What to gift or do we really need to gift?


By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Almost two months after Typhoon Ondoy my house still suggests a mix of Lysol, Winrox, Axion, Baygon, Speed Babad, Murphy Oil Soap, Pledge, Ajax, and various other cleansers, insect sprays, air fresheners, etc.  In the evenings, we squirt our beds and pillows with some sweet-smelling spray to enable us to sleep peacefully.

Almost two months after Ondoy, prices of vegetables are still up there.  Happily, fruits are sold at almost pre-Ondoy prices.

Almost two months after Ondoy and a month before Christmas and my neighbours are heady about Christmas.  Many houses are well lit with Christmas bulbs in the evenings and Christmas decorations are up.  My own Christmas tree is almost done.  My son has been going around Metro Manila taking pictures of beautiful Christmas scenes for his Around Philippines fan page at Facebook.

I think we are ready to forget Ondoy and move on with Christmas as our anchor.

You can hardly move around Divisoria even on a Monday with so many shoppers on a budget looking for affordable gift items.  Also, there are so many entrepreneurs buying goods wholesale that they could resell.

That makes me think about "giving."  Do we really need to give gifts on account of Christmas?  Some say that we must follow the example of the Three Kings who brought symbolic gifts to Baby Jesus.  I say, yes, but they did not give each other gifts; they did not give the shepherds gifts either. 

I, therefore, conclude that we only need to give gifts to Jesus to commemorate that first Christmas. What could we give Jesus?  By becoming HIs image and likeness in everything we think, feel, say and do. Every day, not just on Christmas day.

But how do we buck this tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas?  I suggest a shift from material gifts to more meaningful and useful gifts that imitate the gifts of the Three Magi:  to honor and respect, to divine and to consecrate the Babe in the manger.  And here are some examples for individual gift giving.  I guarantee that you will enjoy the giving as much as the recipient will enjoy your gift.

• Visit a friend or family who lives alone or who is sick

• Fix something in your house or your friend's house or workplace that's been broken for years now.

• Give potted fruit bearing plants, e.g. calamansi and finger chili

• Clean up your own mess

• Bring your mom and dad to the seaside very early in the morning

• Vivaldi's Four Seasons CD

• Borrow a projector and have a movie marathon on a big screen (white linen on your wall) at home with your family.  Provide comfortable pillows,  popcorn and soft drinks.

• Make your own mushy Christmas card or poster

• Watch and identify the stars, constellations and other celestial objects on a bright December evening.  I use the book Star Guide:  learn how to read the night sky star by star as my reference.  Or you can just Google them.

• Spend time listening to a troubled person woes.  Resist the temptation to interrupt, to give advice, or to admonish; just listen.  A pair of listening ears is all they need.

• Take your dear ones on a swing around Manila onboard the MRT, LRT1 & LRT2.  The view from the trains is amazing.  You may also try the Pasig River Boat and the PNR Commuter Train.

• Red lipstick

• Watch the sun rise or set atop your roof.

• Give your spouse and househelp a break, order takeout.  Give caterers business this Christmas season.

• Go swimming or biking or whatever on Christmas day.

• If you insist, a gift check for spa treatment

• If you really insist, an all expense paid vacation package in Caramoan, Cam Sur.

It's okay to give material gifts that will absolutely be used by the recipient.  I asked one son to give me a computer table and the other son an oven toaster as early Christmas gifts.  My old ones drowned in flood and are now rickety.  I have a thousand other ideas for consequential individual and corporate gift-giving.  Make your own and share them with us.;