The best of the world and our very own at Rustan’s
LIFE & STYLE - Millet M. Mananquil () - December 2, 2007 - 12:00am

I am a shamelessly tireless shopper. I make up all possible excuses just to go shopping.

I need to survey the latest lifestyle trends. I need to investigate which shops and malls are consumer-friendly. I need to see how our economy is doing by checking on the purchasing power of our often-ailing peso.

Truth is, I just need a new dress. Or that new lamp which I think will look good on my night table. Whatever.

But this one thing I am sure of: new, exciting shops may open, and new, glitzy malls may materialize on this crowded shopping planet, but there’s one place I am sure to go back to again and again and again. And that is Rustan’s Department Store.

After all, it was this 55-year-old year store that taught me the pleasures of shopping when I started earning my own money to splurge. It was Rustan’s that introduced what real customer service is all about.Try telling a salesgirl that you are dizzy and she will get you a drink, and all the things you need to purchase, carrying your shopping bags all the way to your car. It happened to me 28 years ago when I was heavily pregnant with twins. I never forgot that.

I also never forget that a pair of  exquisite Italian glasswares purchased from Rustan’s for just a few hundred pesos some 30 years ago still stand proudly in my kitchen. Everytime  I look at it, I imagine how the late Glecy Tantoco, Rustan’s founding matriarch with a sharp eye for beautiful things that truly last, must have handpicked those herself in Murano.

Everytime I travel and use the reversible classic Ferragamo coat which I so luckily bought on sale in the 1990s at Rustan’s, I imagine how Nedy Tantoco must have spotted the details on its buttons, with the brand’s famous shoe logo on them.

Truth is, there is a whole family with retailing genius running in their blood who makes Rustan’s the premier luxury shopping establishment in the country.

You can say that the Tantocos are the country’s royal family in retailing. Even their patriarch, Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco, knows when a brand wields magic or not. Once, during a luncheon show featuring their very popular Sinequanone RTW line, Ambassador Tantoco whispered to me:  “I spotted that brand in Europe, and ordered right away!” 

Bienvenido and Glecy Tantoco brought into the Philippines all the best products from all over the world at a time when Manila’s fashionistas were just viewing world-class brands in glossy mags. At the same time, the Tantocos proudly showed off the best of Our Very Own for the world to appreciate.

“Yes, my mother-in-law was so patient in sourcing the best local materials and handicrafts and giving these a haute touch. And Rustan’s continues what she started,” says Nena Tantoco at Rustan’s Makati last week as  I checked out their latest wares. Nena showed Rustan’s local furniture line, matched with exquisite accessories using Philippine shells, capiz, fabrics, stones and wood.

As special assistant to Rustan’s Commercial Corporation’s moving force, president Bienvenido “Ric” Tantoco Jr., the elegant Nena puts to good use her genteel background to help Rustan’s maintain its supremacy in luxe retailing. She is also a prime guiding hand for Rustan’s Essenses, a division so redolent of success in showcasing the world’s top cosmetics and scents. Their eldest son Donnie is the dynamo who injects new vigor to Rustan’s Fresh Supermarket which he heads, with wife Crickette as the meticulous and smart merchandising VP. Beautiful daughter Katrina Tantoco-Lobregat shows her fashion savvy in merchandising, while her dashing hubby Paolo Lobregat is in charge of men’s wear and is unveiling a new lifestyle salon for men soon. Hardworking son Gippy is doing well in the Tantocos’ Santa  Elena real estate project, while his creative wife Hindy weaves her fashionable Culte Femme line.

Rustan Marketing Corporation president Nedy Tantoco is the brains behind Stores Specialists Inc., with dynamic and brilliant son Anton Huang as EVP bagging all the top world brands like a true retailing prince, and his brother Mike ably handling business development.

Starbucks president Menchu Tantoco-Lopez is forever brewing bright ideas for this phenomenal coffee chain together with hubby Jun Lopez, while their son Noey as Starbucks GM and siblings Quito and Maricar Tiangco cook up more successes.The Lopez children are also blooming with their talents at Rustan’s Flower Shop.

Marilou Tantoco-Pineda helps hold the fort at Rustan’s executive board  with son Dino, while another son, Eman, displays his retailing prowess at Tyler and the soon-to-open Adora.

Marilen Tantoco-Valbuena dutifully takes care of nine Royal Duty Free Shops in Morocco that also showcase Philippine-made products, while youngest sister Maritess Tantoco-Enriquez heads the Rustan Foundation and basks in hubby Renato Enriquez’s admirable agricultural venture.

These are the Tantoco retailing heirs who carry on that Rustan’s tradition with an eye for excellence and quality.More innovations and additions are coming soon.

“With Inno Sotto coming in at Rustan’s as our own Marc Jacobs, we will have a more enriched Philippine couture showcase,” explains Nena.

This Christmas shopping season, however, Rico and Nena are busy monitoring the success of their partnership with another revered institution, the 105-year-old Citibank, which offers rewards to all Rustan’s shoppers using Citibank cards. The goods in the home department, for instance, are swiftly being grabbed by shoppers enjoying the treats and discounts offered in the Rustan’s-Citibank promo which is ongoing until January 31. 2008.

Citibank cardholders at Rustan’s get free giftwrapping, free embroidery, engraving and alteration services. Gifts are aplenty for every P10,000 purchase (free Lx 2 bags by Jojie lloren and Dennis Lustico); P25,000 purchase (free ISM perfume); P50,000 purchase (Thiery Mugler cologne); and  P100,000 purchase (Tiffany’s crystal ware). Citibank offers zero percent interest for purchases costing P3,000 or more.

Now I have more reasons to go shopping.

* * *

Not yet a Citibank cardholder? Log on to  or call 995-9999 and get Rustan’s gift certificates with your new card.

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