Tessa Prieto-Valdes, SM Investments vice chair Tessie Sy Coson and STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte; (standing) Pepper Teehankee and the author.
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

The SM Family led by SM Investments vice chairman Tessie Sy Coson, SM Prime chairman of the executive committee Hans Sy, SM Supermalls COO Steven Tan, SM Supermalls SVP for marketing Jonjon San Agustin and VP for corporate marketing Grace Magno, jumpstarted many a celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas with a get-together with print media including four top print executives (including STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte), nine editors (including yours truly) and two society columnists (including this section’s Pepper Teehankee and the Inquirer’s Tessa Prieto-Valdes).

SM Prime chairman of the executive committee Hans Sy and SM Supermalls COO Steven Tan.

The always-positive Tessa, midway through the lunch (perhaps as we were having prawns with charcoal tofu), turned it into a press conference with everyone on the hot seat. She asked each of those at the round table to answer these questions: What are you most grateful for and what are you looking forward to?

When it was Tessie’s turn, what she said was an outpouring that was straight from the heart.

“You know, I always look at things from the positive side,” she began. “So, I’m thankful for many blessings in many areas.  I do have problems here and there, but I have to always psych myself up to be on the positive side.

“I do have a lot of things to do, but whenever I complained, I thought, ‘Maybe without this, I will be feeling older.’ Right now, I have to solve some problems to feel younger. That’s the reason why I have not retired. I’m supposed to be retired but because of certain problems I will not be retired but I look forward to that,” she said. I admired her for her candor and I do believe in her formula for keeping young work hard, literally, to keep young.

She also had a wish for all those who troop to SM Malls.

“I just hope that people who are shopping with us, in whatever form, and people working with us will be happy because I’m generally a happy person now. Maybe, because of my age, I like to see people happy.”

She concluded with this sage piece of advice: “You know if you surround yourself with people who are happy, you’ll be happy yourself also.” I looked around the table and knew exactly what she meant.

For his part, STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte was a father to the core with his sharing of what he is grateful for and what he and his wife Milette and their family are looking forward to.

“I am grateful that my eldest son Mikey won as councilor for the second district of Quezon City, the biggest district in the city whose land area is bigger than the entire Makati,” he said. “It includes Payatas, among other areas,” Miguel added, visibly happy that his son chose to serve the underprivileged.

As to what he and Milette are looking forward to, he simply said, his eyes lighting up: “Our youngest son Santi’s homecoming this Christmas.” Yes, Santi, away at a university in London, will be home for Christmas.

We all were happy because we were surrounded by happy people and as we left China Blue’s private dining room overlooking Manila Bay, we were made more gleeful, the way a child is during a birthday party, with a trove of treats.

Chocolates from Switzerland.

‘Shop The World, Show You Care’

“Shop” the world, and maybe stop the world, too when you show you care.

That’s what happens when a chunk of the proceeds of what you spent for Christmas shopping goes to charity.

On Nov. 24, Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.,  the best products from all over the world will be showcased and sold for charity at the PICC Forums 1, 2 and 3 at CCP complex, Pasay City.

IBF board member Gina de Venecia.
IBF photos by Büm Tenorio Jr.

This one-day International Bazaar is organized by the International Bazaar Foundation (IBF), in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic and Consular Corps and the Spouses of the Heads of Mission (SHOM).

International Bazaar Foundation chairperson Louie Locsin.

“This bazaar will showcase the finest items from different countries together with the Philippines’ best community-based products,” says Maria Lourdes “Louie” Locsin, wife of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L.  Locsin Jr., who is the IBF chairperson.

IBF treasurer Alice Guerrero and SHOM president Susan Fries.
IBF photos by Büm Tenorio Jr.

According to Susan Fries, wife of Swedish Ambassador Harald Fries and SHOM president, the proceeds of this cosmopolitan bazaar will benefit local charities.

Among the beneficiaries this year are 41 scholars in colleges and universities in Metro Manila; the Ayala Foundation that conducts outreach projects in Mindanao, Palawan and Mindoro; the HABI Textile that restores the fine art of inabel or abeliloko; the Pilak Silvercraft that trains silversmiths in Baguio City; the Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque City; the Provincial Hospital in Bogo; the Missionaries of Charity; the Little Sisters of the Poor; the feeding program in Pasay City; the Steps Mission Foundation; and the Sayaw Foundation that teaches out-of-school youth to learn ballet skills.

Entrance tickets to the bazaar, now on its 53rd year, are at P150 each while donor cards cost P250 each. These are available at Tesoro’s Store in Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City; at Special Projects Unit, 6th Floor, DFA Bldg, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City; and at the PICC gate on the day of the International Bazaar. For inquiries, you may call 8833-1320 or e-mail ibf.dfa@gmail.com. *

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