There’s magic at Christmas because there’s magic in being together

Published October 9, 2021, 10:00 PM

by AA Patawaran

Storied department store Rustan’s makes togetherness the centerpiece of this year’s merrymaking

Rustan’s Commercial Corporation president Donnie Tantoco started it off on such a personal note when he opened the program citing a mass he recently attended, where very young children played the key roles in the ceremony. He was struck by a child who, reading out loud from the Book of Genesis, said “The Lord God said ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’”

Immediately, the words stirred in him an epiphany. “I realized that as wonderfully and beautifully created as we are, we are not made to be alone,” said Donnie. “We cannot live fruitfully, purposefully, joyfully, and productively if we are not connected, and not part of an interdependent community. What I heard from those words is we will never be happy if we do not live for a purpose that is larger than ourselves.”

And so that was how our annual get-together, usually a lavish themed lunch or dinner held at Rustan’s, any of its branches, and also, at one time, at its sister store, Adora, started, this time though, in yet another COVID-stricken year, on Zoom.

The theme this year, as Donnie introduced it, was togetherness. The true magic of Christmas is how it brings us together—families, friends, co-workers, communities, countries, the entire world. What followed in the program was even more personal, with the Rustan’s team, headed by marketing communication chief Dina Arroyo Tantoco, presenting a video greeting from a surprise loved one, friend or family, child or elder, near or far, for each of the guests. I had to take off my eyeglasses to make sure I was seeing whom I thought I was seeing, whose voice was the first sign that the video being played was made especially for me. True enough, it was my four-year-old nephew Aldi, who spent his first three years in my care because his parents were both abroad. The greeting was all the way from some park in Auckland, where he and his parents are now based. What a poignant moment for me, just when I thought I was at work, that such a personal, meaningful surprise, with Aldi screaming at the top of his voice, “Merry Christmas, AA! I miss you! I love you!” would be hoisted on me. It was the same for every other guest at the Zoom get-together, an endearing moment with a loved one or with loved ones, children and grandchildren, long-missed parents and grandparents, friends from whom mask mandates, physical distancing, and travel bans have separated us in the course of this pandemic that, in the Philippines at least, has yet to show any signs of abating.

ALL TOGETHER NOW Clockwise from top left: Rustan’s Michael T. Huang, Dina Tantoco, Maritess Tantoco-Enriquez, Marilen Tantoco, and Donnie Tantoco

Rustan’s is a treasure trove of such wonderful moments that make togetherness more memorable.  Every year, the storied department store, which to many of us is by now also a repository of our fondest memories, transforms into a wonderland of the lushest Christmas trees, the brightest fairy lights, the most sparkling ornaments, table decors and food baskets most reflective of our family traditions, and more at the Christmas Village, where everywhere you turn, you are likely to find a gift most articulate in expressing your thoughts, whether it is food, apparel, personal accessories, or home items, for any of the recipients, young and old, on your Christmas list.

The message of Christmas this year and always at Rustan’s highlights the family and its role in reflecting unconditional and enduring love and, though this love is too big to be wrapped in a Christmas box, the department store has a wide array of things of great value with which we can express that love.  

Food, when we come together to enjoy it, is a universal language of affection and so, at the Rustan’s Christmas Village, gastronomy is presented in many possibilities, whether in the form of food boxes curated with Gourmet Garage, Marks & Spencer, and Theo & Philo, or Ferrero Rocher featuring sumptuous goodies perfect as a gift for loved ones or for serving at home, or Champagne galore, courtesy of Moet & Chandon, to make our gatherings even more convivial and special.

LOVE FROM 8,000 KMS AWAY The author’s nephew Aldi sending Christmas wishes from Auckland, New Zealand

The Christmas Village is open until Dec. 31, but Rustan’s too has many gifts for you in the form of discounts and rewards.

In celebration of Rustan’s Christmas launch weekend from Oct. 15 to 17, Rustan’s Kids has select brands like Attipas, Baby Hood, Banz, Graco, Hamico, Yamatoya, Roobetter, and My Carry Potty offering 35 percent off on children’s essentials and apparel for all the new moms on your list.

‘We will never be happy if we do not live for a purpose that is larger than ourselves.’

For Dad and the other hard-to-shop-for men in your life, bags, accessories, shaving sets, and other men’s items from brands like Gouache, Braun, Seiko, Pacsafe, Hydrapak, Lewis N Clark, Artiart, Bugatti Bags, Loqi, Jack Nicklaus, and Knomo come at special prices up to 50 percent off. From Hackett, New Balance, Emporio Armani, Magnanni, Pedro del Hierro, and other brands, FSP members can earn x5 FSP points too.

For the special women on your list, Elie Tahari, Coccinelle, Dooney & Bourke, Bardot, Swarovski, Criselda Lontok, Lady Rustan, Lotus, and Luna are sure to give you a great idea or two, plus you get to collect x5 FSP points when you shop from these brands. Sitara Vintage and Etika Collective are slashing 15 percent off on selected items from their sustainable collection.

And here’s a special treat if you have foodies on your list. Beka, Cuisinart, Tefal, Amefa, Nachtmann, Seletti, Wilmax, Serta, Malouf, Russell Hobbs, Saeco, Gaggia, and more are offering 30 percent off on kitchenware, tableware, glassware, small appliances, and other lifestyle accessories.

As for jewelry, consider the Montblanc gift sets, which come at 15 percent off. For your girlfriends and besties, you may choose from a variety of haircare, skincare, and other beauty products, which should come with a special gift for every minimum purchase.

In addition to special offers, from Oct. 15 to 17, FSP members get x5 FSP points for every minimum purchase of ₱5,000.

Rustan’s also levels up Christmas shopping with a zero percent bank installment promo extending until Jan. 31, 2022. Holiday shoppers can choose between three transaction plans depending on their purchase amount, covering up to three, six, and 12 months at zero percent installment for participating credit cards.

Christmas is a joy indeed when you think of it as an occasion to make others feel happy, cared for, and loved. Rustan’s has a lot more in store, including special services that personalize the holiday experience with a premium on convenience, such as personal shoppers, virtual store tours, embroidery, embossing, and engraving services with which you can have your loved ones’ names, initials, or family crests on fabrics, jewelry, wood and metal products. Christmas shopping at Rustan’s isn’t only fun, it is also easy.

The reason for a jolly season is love. And love is what brings us together. Have a jolly season and a merry Christmas indeed!