Hope for the holidays: What gives Anton Huang hope for Christmas?

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
Hope for the holidays: What gives Anton Huang hope for Christmas?
Rustan Commercial Corp. EVP and SSI Group Inc. president Anton T. Huang.

Life threw us a curve ball this year. Not just in the direction of our family, our community, our country. It threw the world a curve ball a juggernaut so unexpected, so disruptive, so humbling it will be remembered for all time.

But despite COVID-19 and its unprecedented effect on lives and livelihoods, Anton T. Huang, Rustan Commercial Corp. EVP and SSI Group Inc. president, upon whose businesses depend many jobs, found hope. Just right after the pandemic struck.

“(Our employees) sacrificed being away from their families in order to report for work. At a time when there wasn’t even public transportation, they would walk for certain distances in order to meet the shuttles that we were able to provide,” said Anton during a Zoom press conference that unwrapped Rustan’s “Home for Christmas” offerings under the “new normal.”

“I believe it is safe to say that the year 2020 has been an extremely difficult one, filled with unique challenges for all of us. For the first time in a long time, in all likelihood, many of us will be staying at home with our families on Christmas Day. No travel, no big parties. Just us and the people we are grateful for,” said Anton, who shared how he enjoyed family time with his wife Nina and their two daughters during the lockdown.

At the end of the day, despite the world being hit by a curve ball, he sees hope.

“The one thing that the pandemic has taught us is to value our family and loved ones. But not only that, in the case of running a business, our own version of ‘front liners’ has given me hope. It really makes you appreciate that sense of malasakit, which is a very Filipino trait. The sense of malasakit for the company. When you see that, it gives you hope that despite the challenges and all the difficulties that we’re faced with today, both personally and as a business, we will come out of this. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.”

The Tiffanyinspired tower of ornaments.

Hope, home for the holidays

Laast Friday, the Department of Trade and Industry announced a relaxation of control measures enforced in malls and shopping centers. Air-conditioning can now be set to cooler temperatures, and free Wi-Fi may now be made available.

But even before the announcement, Anton already assured its customers that Rustan’s won’t be complacent.

“As the economy starts to get back up on its feet, you can be confident that Rustan’s has not become in any way complacent. In fact, we continue our bid to build confidence amongst Filipinos to shop with us,” he added. “One way is by implementing strict precautions and safety procedures in all of our stores at a standard that is higher than most.”

But since there are many who would rather stay home for the time being, Rustan’s has adapted to the times. According to Anton, its e-commerce website www.Rustans.com is online 24/7 and is able to service orders from all over the country.

In addition, he said, Rustan’s chairman and CEO Nedy Tantoco has led the launch of Rustan’s Personal Shopper On Call, “a secure and stress-free way to shop, which allows customers to enjoy shopping from the department store’s list of local and international brands without having to leave home.”

Every single step of this service is done online, including payment. Free delivery, right at your doorstep, is offered for a minimum purchase. Giftwrapping services are also possible for online purchases.

(The Personal Shopper On Call can also help navigate the Christmas Gift Registry. Last Saturday, Oct. 24, Rustan’s launched one universal number – 0917 111 1952 – for the Personal Shopper On Call).

The peppermint Christmas tree.

Oh, Christmas tree…

Christmas is in the heart, and in the soul, but having cultural reminders of its festiveness is one potent mood booster. I’ve been to Rustan’s Christmas shop twice this month, and walking between Christmas trees bedecked in the most eye-catching décor brings out the child in me, and the happy adult that I’ve become.

There are trees that immediately turn heads with their crimson hues. For those with young children, there is a Christmas tree with peppermint-colored ribbons and hanging ornaments. For the sophisticate, there are those with traditional touches of velvet poinsettias and wreaths. There are also accessories like Santa Claus figurines and Rudolph-themed pillows to excite children and the young at heart!

Ornaments in silver hues

There are also trees with touches of rose gold for a modern take this season. A millennial favorite, this pinkish hue lends timelessness and opulence to muted holiday colors like green, brown, and white. I also spied a Christmas tree adorned with pink snowflakes and glittered gold cone ornaments.

There are also blues to beat the blues, like aqua Christmas balls, silver flowers, and glittery butterfly sprays for a non-traditional theme. This beautiful theme is inspired by iconic Tiffany gift boxes.

To add glitter to your home, I suggest the Christmas tree adorned with big white and gold Christmas balls, poinsettias, lanterns, fern picks, and other ornaments.

Trees are a symbol of life and abundance, and according to folk tales, they were set up in countries with cold climes during the winter months, not only to celebrate Christmas, but also to remind them that after winter comes spring.

Yes, there is every reason to hope this Christmas. Especially when you’re home for the holidays.



(You may e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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