January 02, 2011

More Yuletide thoughts

CONTINUING from my column on December 24, here are the favorite or unforgettable Christmas gifts of several of our friends:

Rina Lopez-Bautista, President, Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc.

About six years ago, I received a Holy Bible. What made this gift special was that it was given to me by my friend who is a Muslim Datu. He had promised to help a Christian lady distribute 1 million Bibles.

With the Holy Bible, he included pages of yellow highlighted passages from the Holy Koran which he believed bore similarity to that of the Christian faith.

His hope was that one day we could all focus on our similarities rather than our differences and create lasting peace. Although he had achieved it in his hometown in Maguindanao, his hope was that one day peace would reign in the rest of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

My friend has passed away since, but his dreams and aspirations will one day be fulfilled by his children and others like him who continue to wage peace.

Nikos Gitsis, Director and co-founder of Southeast Asian Airlines

When I first came to the Philippines, I left New York on December 24, 1994, and arrived in Manila on December 26. Due to the time change, I lost Christmas that year. But looking back, I was given my chance to realize my childhood dream on that Christmas-less year—to become a pilot and own an airline, and it was offered to me by the Philippines. Happily, I can say that I accepted. It is because of this I owe the realization of my dream to the country that I have made my home now.

Claire Yap, Senior vice president-head of the Global Service Centre, Global Payments

I belong to the Vedruna Foundation where there are diverse communities of children centers that we support with educational and feeding programs and spiritual enrichment from funds raised through individual donations and contributions by the largest Catholic parish in Tokyo, St. Ignatius Parish Church.

Our simple gifts for these children in the yearly Christmas parties—from way south in the Philippines like with the Manobos in Cotabato, to the Pangarap Children’s Centers in Quezon City and the abandoned children at Tahanan Vedruna in Tagaytay—are greatly anticipated and are filled with games, music and surprises.

The mere sight of the happy faces of children who receive our full attention for the day tops my list of the best Christmas presents I get blessed with every year.

Olivia Limpe-Aw, President, Destileria Limtuaco

I can’t really choose one favorite or unforgettable gift. For me the most memorable gifts I receive are always from those who took the time to think about what to give, gave the time and put in the effort to make me happy, delighted, or even to surprise me.

So in a way, it really is the thought that counts but the effort to make it happen is what makes it even more meaningful and unforgettable.

Philippe Bartholomi, General manager, Century Park Hotel

My favorite Christmas gift as a little boy was my first Formula 1 and Rally cars electric racetrack which was given by my parents when I was around 8 or 9 years old. Another unforgettable gift was when my parents visited me and were around during the Christmas season, the first time was in 2007, when I was still managing a hotel in Boracay. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and big New Year’s Eve bash on the beach. The second time was in 2008 when I was back here in Manila at Century Park Hotel. Their presence really meant a lot to me and it was the best gift ever.

Jocelyn Chua, Proprietor, French Dolls

The best Christmas gift I received was a Rolex watch from my husband Al during our first year of marriage. It’s not the material thing, but the thought/gesture and the love that came with the gift. It was touching because instead of buying something nice for himself, he thought of me first.

Happy New Year people! Thank you for continuing to read my blog. Wishing you all the best in 2011!

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror. Photos provided by the interviewees.)

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