Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Taking Gifting to the Next Level

Revised Merry SM Christmas Contest Poster

Time flies so fast...I know it's cliche but the rate in which a day passes just keeps on getting faster and faster as I get older. Why is that? Was it just the other day when I was preparing our kids for the opening of school year 2015-2016. Where did July, August, September and October go? And now, we're talking about Christmas and wish lists! Wow! 

This Christmas, my family and I wish to celebrate its real meaning, and that is Christ. Far more than just a holiday, Christmas is a  celebration of God's incredible act of love. Knowing this, it is but fitting that we remember His birth by giving each other gifts and sharing this love with others, most especially the less fortunate. This is the time to give back, the season of gifting. 

 Image result for gift

What is your Christmas wish list for yourself?

The things that I wish for come Christmas time have become fewer and simpler. In fact, they are not things anymore. But though I no longer wish for material things, I do appreciate the gifts I receive during Christmas.  They are indeed, blessings.  All the MONEY (imagine setting aside a portion of  our meager income or bonus), TIME (to think that we don't even have enough time for ourselves),  EFFORT (choosing and then buying and lining up to pay, wrapping, etc.), and THOUGHT (what to give??; where to shop??)  that go into the gift are the real gifts.  That thing inside that wrapped gift is just the trimming. That's how I see it.

Just like every year, I wish to have a vibrantly colored journal with lots of blank pages where I could write down my thoughts and anything under the sun. And then stickers and colored pens which I will use for my journalling.

Image result for diary with pens

I also love to receive baked goodies for Christmas. I have the sweetest tooth and a pack of cookies or a box of pastries or cakes are such a delight to have.     

What are your Christmas gift ideas for your loved ones this year?
For this purpose alone, I will limit the term "loved ones" to my family, those in our household. 

For my husband - A toy. Not those toys for the big boys, okay since I cannot afford them but a real toy, like some Lego bricks. 

For our eldest daughter - The new Tomb Raider PS3 game. The Tomb Raider series is the playstation game I was hooked into while I was "bedresting" the whole time I was pregnant with her.
For our 2nd daughter - A box of hard-to-find Crayola colors or pretty markers and pens. She's our artist and she's really fond of creating something with her hands.

For our youngest daughter - A wooden doll house. She loves to play doll houses with her "ates", furnishing and decorating them.

For our househelp - A new set of pillows.  So she can lay her head to a wonderful rest after a long day.
For our dog - A big bone with a ribbon, as suggested by our girls (I'm thinking of a left-over "bulalo"). 

How do you plan to give back to others this Christmas?

This last question thugs at my heart.  Eversince I graduated from college and started to earn my own keep, I have developed this desire to do something about the plight of our street children and contribute something (tangible items and non-tangible items) to an orphanage.  Orphans and abandoned kids have a special place in my heart maybe because I am an orphan myself.  When I was still single, I would join my brother and his family to a Noche Buena food-giving project to street children or to those just living in a "kariton". Soon after, I organized a similar project, this time, with my yuppy friends, right before Noche Buena.

Last Christmas, I encouraged my kids to clean and pack all their baby toys to giveaway to an orphanage. We personally brought the toys and their pre-loved clothes (which cannot fit them anymore) to the orphanage. We even met some of the children and spent time with them. 

There's always this feeling of blessedness when I'm involved in doing some acts of charity and kindness.  I want to teach our 3 girls the blessings of giving and not to be too attached to material things. In a world of apathy, how else can our kids learn compassion? 

This Christmas, I would like to take action once again to bring joy and happiness to orphans and abandoned children. When I stumbled upon this contest, read the mechanics and learned about the prize, I got excited.  The first picture that came to my mind were orphans hugging their own teddy bear.

Bears of Joy 2014

sm care bears of joy

Every year since 2012, my family has been privileged to be visited and caroled by a group of orphans. This time around, more than giving them money and providing them with snacks, I'm actually thinking of giving each one of them something to hug, a stuff toy, from our kids' own collections.

I also plan to visit again an orphanage. Together with my husband and 3 kids, we would spend one whole afternoon in this orphanage, feeding the kids, mingling and playing with them. If chosen to be a winner of this contest, we will gift each of the young orphans a teddy bear from the SM Christmas Bears of Joy. But more than anything else, I would like to give them my love and warm embrace even for a short time. And maybe these small steps would be the start of fulfilling one of my dreams...that of putting up a children's orphanage.

Illustration by: Noelle Aguilar

I know putting up an orphanage involves a lot of money. But I am inspired by the story of George Muller, a Christian evangelist who in the year 1836 put up an orphanage in Bristol, England. This orphanage was built by prayer and it cared for a little over 10,000 orphans.  Building an orphanage is my way of giving back. It is my gift of hope to the Filipino children who have been neglected, have lost their loved ones, or in one way or the other, have been left on their own. This orphanage will provide the basic needs of a child from food, water, clothes and education. But more than these, this children’s orphanage will provide them with love and care just like being in a family. In the confines of this building, they will never feel alone or abandoned or worthless. Here, they will feel special and precious. After all, they really are. Here, the children will learn to pray, experience God’s love and provision.  Here, they will know Jesus.  

A very arresting photo of our street children
And when the children are ready for adoption, they will leave the orphanage equipped with Godly-values and prepared for the world.  These children will have a strong sense of compassion.  They will share their joy and love with others who are like them.  They will make a difference and they will be the difference that the world wants to see.

I have big dreams for this children's orphanage and for the children themselves. My prayer is that while inside the confines of this building, their lives will be impacted and once they get out, they in turn will impact the lives of others. 

Having been orphaned at an early age, I know how it feels to almost give up hope.  Losing my parents at a young age is like losing everything.  Everything about a little child speaks of innocence and trust.  Children have pure hearts and can easily love with all their hearts. This love inspires us to see God's unconditional love.  I want to preserve the purity of their hearts to love and accept love, if only I can. Even Jesus Himself said, "Let the children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven." 

To me, there's really no better way to celebrate Christmas than by giving ourselves to and sharing our blessings with those in need.  May we all have a blessed and merry Christmas.

SM Supermalls Pre-Christmas Ad 9cols x 51cm

“For more updates about this year’s “Merry SM Christmas” campaign, visit SM’s official Christmas microsite ( and follow its official social media accounts at Facebook (, Twitter (, and Instagram (; and get an insider access to all the fun happenings at SM Supermalls nationwide through Viber ( Shoppers can actively share their holiday merriments inside the SM Supermalls by posting their photos on social media and adding the hashtag #MerrySMChristmas2015.”