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Dec 25, 2013

Memorable Christmas Gifts


Merry Christmas everyone! By this time you must have wrapped and delivered all (or at least, almost all) your Christmas presents to your family and friends. You must have also opened the gifts that you’ve received. Gift giving is a dizzying frenzy in the Philippines.


There was a time I used to enjoy wrapping our Christmas gifts but because the list has grown too long, the free gift-wrapping service offered by stores has become a welcome help to me. If you’re the type who waits for Christmas before you open your gifts, make sure you ask the giver if the gift is perishable.


For today I wish to tackle memorable Christmas gifts. What’s a memorable Christmas gift that you received or gave that has a big return to the giver/receiver?


I have a few but what stands out is a Christmas gift I both received and gave in December of 1996. I was told by my OB-gyn that I was going to give birth on December 24. I didn’t want to spend my Christmas in labor so very early on I talked to my baby in my womb to come out on December 8. This way Mama and baby get to spend Christmas at home and his birthday will always be a no-classes day (in Catholic schools) because that’s the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. And lo and behold! My baby came out even a day earlier. I was home long before Christmas and this was the Christmas I was most prepared for, having bought all the gifts as early as September. This Christmas gift is now a 17-year old boy, the youngest member of our family who brings us joy.


I asked the same question to some people in the Finance industry and here are their answers:


1. Edward Lee, COL Financial, Inc., Chairman of the Board

“Everyday is Christmas for me. Since we know our purpose in life, the best gift I give is the gift of Financial Literacy, my advocacy. Reward obviously is our earnings that we generate from what we do which is financial education.”


2. Riza Mantaring, Sunlife of Canada (Philippines), Inc., President and CEO

“Unfortunately I can't think of a memorable gift I gave. I’m not much of a gift person, shopping is very stressful for me. But a memorable gift I received was the first time my husband gave me jewelry (gold earrings), soon after we were married.  We didn't have much money, and he's very practical by nature, so buying jewelry was alien to him.  His making the effort to buy something he thought I'd like, even if he probably couldn't see why, was pretty sweet!



3. Noet Ravalo, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Managing Director, Central Supervisory Support Sub-sector

“It has to be the take out breakfast meal that my officemate gave me. Coffee hash brown and a sandwich with the note, "To the best boss in the whole world." Of course, I couldn't possibly meet that standard but to be TRUSTED that much is priceless.”


4. Hans Sicat, Philippine Stock Exchange, President

“Last year my dad gave me Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere & El Filibusterismo, the latest English translations. I finished re-reading Noli and what struck me was that generally, the problems of the Philippines have been essentially the same the last 200 years! Different characters but same issues.”


5. Gus Cosio, First Metro Asset Management, Inc., President

“Many of the gifts I have received or gave were rather frivolous. What has impressed me is a bottle of Double Black Johnny Walker 12 year old blended scotch whiskey. Kidding aside, I’ve received meaningful books and items for spiritual enhancement. But the one with the best return was a cash donation that my company gave for reconstruction in the Visayas, in lieu of having a Christmas party.  I think the bigger return was to the giver because all our employees were willing to give up our usual bash for the donation.  Apart from the office donation, we also passed the hat for two of our employees who had immediate families in the ravaged areas.  I think the act of generosity enriches our employees’ lives.”


6. Marvin Fausto, BDO, Chief Investment Officer

“Back in Christmas 1988, I gave a golden bracelet to my girlfriend as a symbol of my love. After that Christmas, we have celebrated Christmas time together as husband and wife in the spirit of joy and love.”


7. Smith Chua, BPI, VP for Asset Management & Trust Group

“My son's first Xmas card for our family.”


8. Ysmael Baysa, Jollibee Foods Corporation, CFO

“The best gift I remember giving was a whole set of chandeliers for the church in my home town of Sariaya, Quezon in December, 2005. It was a project of our high school batch that I led. We had these chandeliers fabricated, a total of 28 pieces, most of which were 6 feet tall. I designed them myself based on some motifs that I saw at the Tokyo Museum when I visited it with my family. We had them blessed on the first Misa De Gallo on December 16, 2005. The project brought lasting good things. It brought our class together in a stronger bond. It gave an example to other people in our hometown and encouraged a beautification program of the church. It made a big difference in the aesthetics and ambiance of the church. Even now, whenever I see these chandeliers lit, I feel inspired. They remind me that ordinary folks like my high school class can create things of beauty and can bring good changes.”


9. Alvin Lao, D & L Industries, Inc., CFO

“Memorable Christmas gifts which I'm forever grateful for came from my wife Johanna, in the form of my kids! Although they didn't arrive during Christmas, they make other gifts pale in comparison!”


10. April Tan, COL Financial, Inc. VP Head of Research

“Most memorable gift given is vacation for my family (I paid for plane tickets and hotel accommodation). Of course, it’s a great time for everyone to bond and recharge their batteries after a hard year’s work.”


11. Salve Duplito, ANC On The Money Resident Financial Adviser

“I brought my kids to do a secret Santa on Christmas morning for a needy family. We knocked, dropped a noche buena basket, and hid. This was in Pag-asa. She spoke about how touched she was in church. The kids' secret smiles were precious. Until now, they still remember it.”


12. Edric Mendoza, ANC On The Money Host

“I don't really remember the gifts I received compared to the gifts I gave. No single one stands out actually. I love the expression on my kids' faces when they open their presents. That's priceless.”


13. Melissa Gecolea, ANC On The Money Co-host

“My most memorable gifts are from my childhood. Yes, shallow I know but it was the time when I still believed in the magic of Christmas and as a kid, there was no stress in Christmas. I didn't grow up here so it was really just my family - parents and sister. So factoring in the belief that Santa existed along with the nuclear family unit and youth, my most memorable gifts then were the 3-storey Barbie apartment with the elevator and the Easy Bake Oven. I was Barbie crazy as a kid and had that apartment for many years. They brought me many hours of playtime both alone and with friends. The Barbie apartment came with furniture and I made more furniture for it. It allowed me to exercise my creativity and imagination. I'm still upset that my mom got rid of it when I went to college along with all my other Barbie stuff. Those must be collectors’ items now. The Easy Bake Oven made real cakes. I loved baking cakes with it. Yes, real cakes not virtual ones as I imagine everything is today for kids who play on their ipads. When I was living in London, my girlfriend who went to school with me in Rome reminded me of that oven and how much she loved it and how good those cakes were. These gifts still bring back wonderful memories of playing with my friends, the things I invented to enhance them, and the 'tea parties' I had. I had them for many years and in my mind I can still relive the joy of my childhood when I think of them. That’s the gift of many happy childhood memories.
 If only we didn’t have to grow up from the magic of Christmas!”


14. Efren Cruz, Personal Finance Advisers Philippines Corp, Chairman & President

“The confidence and support of our clients.”


15. Tony Herbosa, Corporate Finance & Consulting at Center for Global Best Practices, Managing Director

“My third son is very much into Nike. That Nike Jordan 11 was pricey but the kiddie version was much much cheaper. It was also a '’birthday combo Christmas gift' as its just pricey for me. I bought it for him and he gets a lot of pat on the back from the bigger boys in LSGH. I guess young kids need that ego boost once in a while, no matter how shallow.”



What about you, what’s a memorable Christmas gift that you received or gave that has a big return to the giver/receiver?


Next week, I will share with you their big dreams for 2014.


Merry Christmas!




(Rose Fres Fausto is the author of the book Raising Pinoy Boys. Click this link to download free book sample To read her other articles go to or Author Archive. Send your questions and comments via email to or text to 0917-5395770.)


This article is also published in


Attribution: Photos of the respondents from their corporate websites and Facebook.


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