Christmas hit list

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

Just when the Grinch in me nearly rolled down hill, my friend and adopted kin Sonja Vodusek, general manager of the Peninsula Manila threw me a lifeline in the form of invites for the Christmas Concert at the Pen. In the 30 years that the concert has been staged, this was our first time and it was so good that I strongly suggest you make it part of your Christmas tradition or memory building list in the coming years. You would have to make very early arrangements, perhaps as early as 3 months ahead because getting a table for the event will be like trying to get a seat to the Pacman–Mayweather fight if it actually happens.

While the concert is open to the public, getting an assigned seat/table where you can also enjoy the famous merienda offerings of the Peninsula Lobby was apparently quite a challenge. As we came early for the concert I had a lot of time to eavesdrop on the crowd and it was quite entertaining by itself. One very latecomer rushed in trying to get a table. Realizing that was almost impossible the person goes: “ Who do I speak to in order to pull some strings for a table?” Another slacker came up to a hotel staff, asked: “Are you important? I need to speak to someone important to get a table.” Knowing how great the concert was going to be, I suppose that some people either got desperate or discarded manners in the vain hope of sitting themselves down.

Given the perfect ambiance of the Pen lobby, imagine yourself in the company of your loved ones enjoying a late afternoon meal surrounded by Christmas ornaments and a towering Christmas tree. You forget about life’s worries, hold hands, sing or hum along with the choir, artists and the orchestra as they play familiar songs and pieces you yourself have come to know through the years.

That’s exactly what we did as a family as we relished the experience listening to the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ruggero Barbieri. That was not all; the concert also featured the Philippine Madrigal Singers, UST Singers, Ms. Kuh Ledesma and Ms. Lani Misalucha. Combine this with the sought after merienda selection of the Pen lobby, sprinkle in an added selection of European cookies, sandwiches and fruit pastries, champagne and constant pampering by the hotel’s staff and you soon forget the traffic and the stress. Even the Grinch in me started to sing: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

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While Christmas concerts may leave a warm fuzzy feeling, something that raises the Grinch in me are the things on my Christmas hit list:

When corporate PRs give away gifts that qualify as “two for the price of one,” meaning sending a gift but putting on company logos that I can still hit dead center at 200 yards. Through the years I’ve received some really nice gifts that would have been quite useful but rendered tasteless by the tacky oversized presence of a company logo or name. Considering gifts are suppose to be an expression of appreciation to a “friend,” why ruin it by making it a promotional item?

A small or artistic seal or icon strategically placed, as not to be obvious will suffice, otherwise go rent a billboard on EDSA.

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Raffle or ruffle?

Many companies now include a “raffle” to spice up their Christmas parties while others have tweaked the idea by introducing a level of difficulty by making guests perform, participate in a game or compete with each other to win a prize.

Unfortunately what used to be about the raffle has now ended up ruffling feathers with guests getting annoyed with the embarrassment, ridicule or public defeat. Then there are the organizational blunders where hosts and organizers deceitfully try to favor friends or big customers end up exposing themselves or showing that their so called games or raffles are rigged. It gets even more embarrassing when the pre-selected winners privately confess that they were just as surprised to win in a game they were not even playing!

Please! Either hold a fair raffle for everybody or don’t. If you want to suck up or kiss butt, just give gifts to the parties concerned. As one annoyed guest put it: “Hindi kami patay gutom.” Ouch!

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With all the joy, hope and annoyance that come with it, I concede that Christmas has officially invaded my air space. And in keeping with decades old warnings I remind the young female teenagers and older not to “pout” especially those of you who now frequent the malls displaying your personal fashion statements all lifted from magazines and catwalk TV shows. Yes you may aspire to be pretty and presentable but adorning the looks of a catwalk bitch, arrogantly sticking your pout and rebellious indifference in the crowd is simply so off putting and annoying.

It may be your idea of being cool and hot but it also makes people wonder what gives you the right? Those fashion models you copy may actually have a right to pout and act indifferent because that’s what they are paid to do. Catwalk vampires work for a living and for some of their clothes, a number of them get paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of pesos or whatever preferred currency and yes their pay is net after tax, because like all of the working class they too pay their taxes. What about you our high school — college “Princess”? Who’s paying for your iPhone 6, iPad Mini, platform stilettos, and the many outfits you flash and trash when no longer out of fashion?

Drop your “I’m educated fashionable and good looking therefore entitled delusion.” You’re a minor, your unemployable, and you are society’s responsibility. It won’t kill you to smile at others. You won’t die for being low key, and people will appreciate you more for your natural personality rather than your Maleficent character.

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E-mail: [email protected].

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