The best present is our presence

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IREENE LEONCIO

It is November, and the Christmas season has begun for our nation. Although we faced various sociopolitical issues that have divided the country, we seem to be united when it comes to celebrating this yearend season meant for eating, singing, gift-giving and never-ending gatherings. We take a moment to think of our loved ones and spend special time with them, along with friends, and pause from the daily grind of work. Our airports and highways are more congested than usual as we take a trip to visit our hometowns. A lot of shoppers rush to the malls to buy presents. We also end up exhausted and stressed out, after navigating the city streets in heavy traffic in search of that perfect gift.

Spending time with our dear ones is priceless in a world that often provides substitutes that we can purchase from a store. Sending tangible gifts, mailing cards and giving cash are acceptable options that we bestow upon others with warmth this season. For the younger generation, online chats or social media posts may seem to be a sufficient way to send across the message to the intended recipients that they are remembered, with just a click of a button. There seems to be an abundance of choices and decisions to be made in a season when parties and invitations come left and right.

According to Michael Czinkota, a professor of Marketing at Georgetown University and the University of Kent, choices often empower, but can also confuse consumers. With numerous concerns to think about – items to shop for and messages to reply to – we can consider the power of one’s physical presence as the best form of a present. When it seems difficult to decide on what to buy for our loved ones, perhaps it is because what we want to give them is not something that can be bought from a store to begin with. A smile, a hug, a shared laughter and memories co-created in a face-to-face moment together can be potent enough to make the Yuletide season, indeed, a cheerful one.

For me and for thousands of our overseas Filipino workers and international students who are unable to come home this season, our nights will be spent in different parts of the world missing our families and friends back home. We may be miles away, but we will find creative and heartfelt ways to make our presence felt in our homeland. To my parents, Junn and Lulu, sister Ivy and dear friends, I am offering this piece to all of you. I deeply miss my country and the fun-loving people that make it worth coming back to. At this time of the year, being away makes me appreciate the heart of a Filipino. Happy holidays, Philippines! Maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat!


Ireene Leoncio is an aspiring global citizen who was born and raised in Manila. She is on a study leave as a faculty member of the Marketing and Advertising Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. Leoncio is currently a PhD Marketing research student in the United Kingdom and in-training to be a yoga teacher. She earned her master’s degree in Washington D.C. She worked for multinational companies managing global brands in Manila, New York City and the San Francisco Bay area. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.

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