We’ll all be home for Christmas

Published October 18, 2020, 9:44 AM

by AA Patawaran

Despite the pandemic, Rustan’s has launched its holiday theme designed to bring to our homes good cheer, glad tidings, and hope  

It’s become a tradition. Every year, around this time, the closely knit Tantoco family invites the press over to lunch or dinner at Rustan’s Department Store in Makati City for a celebration that is nothing short of a family Noche Buena and it always comes with surprises, such as Jose Mari Chan and his children, Michael Philip and Liza Chan, singing to us joyful and nostalgic carols. 


That was back in 2016, just before the crooner became a Christmas meme on social media. But there had been more surprises—polar bears, Cirque du Soleil-inspired shopwindows, The Nutcracker Suite-themed holiday, Santa and his elves, even a Filipino motif, if memory serves me right. Every year had been different, but every year had been a return to memories and a celebration of life, despite the odds, such as after storms and political or economic upheavals. Each year, weeks before Christmas, the Tantoco family transforms Rustan’s Department Store into some kind of winter wonderland.

But what about Christmas 2020? Truth be told, at some point, I must have canceled Christmas and packed it away in a box for storage until we are ready to celebrate again. In fact, the invitation came to me like a rekindled memory. Of course, with social distancing protocols in place, it would not be like the Christmas get-togethers before it and, as it turned out, it was different. First of all, it was on Zoom.

And yet it was the same—cheery and joyful and full of tidings. It felt even more familiar to me with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle’s very own Nikki Huang hosting it this time. There were games, like Name that Tune and Trivial Pursuit, all designed to reignite our mood to have the most wonderful time of the year. It’s still Christmas after all, pandemic or not, and, although our world has drastically changed, what Christmas stands for remains, even more essential at a time like this—hope, love, family, friends, and gratitude.

This year’s theme “Home for Christmas” is perfect for our time, if only because at no point in recent history has home meant more to us than now. And the Tantoco family, through Rustan’s, in view of what is happening, is even more resolute in their drive to fill our homes with joy.


A new feeling of joy, one that finds hope despite unexpected challenges, is the rationale behind the theme that celebrates “the Filipino family’s steadfast hope for better days.” And so, guided by this insight, Rustan’s again will not only be decked out in Christmas cheer but will also be all packed with activities to bring the whole family together, whether it’s shopping, holiday performances, gift giving and receiving, holiday décor, or a one-on-one with Santa Claus on Zoom.

Rustan’s is a safe space. Customer safety is its utmost priority, so health and hygiene protocols are firmly in place. But if you aren’t ready to go out yet, Rustan’s Personal Shopper on Call is at your service. Stress-free and secure, it’s designed to let you enjoy shopping, picking through the department store’s trove of local and international finds, without having to leave home. It’s all done online, including payment, with free delivery for a minimum purchase. This service is also tied in with the Christmas Gift Registry, so even hunting for the perfect gift for everyone on your list is hassle-free. 


To make shopping totally a breeze, Rustan’s is also launching one universal number—0917 111 1952—for the Personal Shopper on Call beginning Oct. 24. Trivia, to help you remember the number: Rustan’s was founded in 1952 by the retail icon Gliceria Rustia Tantoco and her husband, Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., or Lolo Benny, as we know him now.

What’s more, just as the department store is laid out for easy navigation, the Rustan’s online catalogs have been carefully curated for those who’d like to shop from home. Take your pick from a wide selection of holiday décor, holiday wear, classic and trends, gifts, and novelties. 

E-commerce is now at full swing at Rustan’s. On its website www.Rustans.com, new selections and fresh drops are done every week. On top of its rich content, the website will host the Home for Christmas virtual microsite, where customers can view all holiday content, including videos of performances, yuletide decorating tips, gift suggestions, and schedules of all upcoming in-store and online activities. 

Although our world has drastically changed, what Christmas stands for remains, even more essential at a time like this—hope, love, family, friends, and gratitude.

Plus, if you think Santa has been quarantined in the North Pole, think again. At Rustan’s he is back. The Santa-on-Call program connects Santa and his elves face-to-face with children via Zoom for storytelling and one-on-one sessions. Just register not only to have the kids meet Santa but also to get Santa’s helpers at Rustan’s to help you create wish lists you can share with the family, especially the kids’s ninongs and ninangs. Children are also encouraged to send Santa letters with their top three Christmas wishes at [email protected]. Three lucky letter senders will each receive a special gift, delivered straight to their home address—in a Christmas sock, I hope.


There’s a lot more going on at Rustan’s wonderland, including a two-day holiday promo at all branches on Nov. 7 and 8, with zero percent interest on installments for minimum single receipt purchases, as well as rewards galore, such as bonus points and luxury staycation promos, especially for FSP members. Don’t forget the discounts—up to 40 percent off on select items at the Silver Vault, 20 percent off on select kitchenware brands, 10 percent off on many bath and body products, and other great deals with brands like Deborah Lippman and Mario Badescu.

During our Zoom get-together, I was going to ask Anton Huang, executive vice president at Rustan’s and president of its luxury affiliate SSI Group Inc., if, on account of the pandemic, Noche Buena, Christmas dinners, exchange gifts, or holiday reunions this Christmas would be any less or more special. 

But of course, it was a stupid question, especially when Anton said he would dress up as Santa on Christmas Eve now that his entire family, including his daughter Nikki, would be home for the holidays.

Yes, pandemic or not, life goes on. So does Christmas.