CHRITSTMAS? Yup, as soon as the first note of the Yuletide carols played on the airwaves as the clock struck the first second of the ‘ber’ months, the atmosphere seemed to have been painted with reds and greens, mistletoes and, not to forget, the fruit cakes, there is one for everybody.

Maybe the fruitcakes will come in December but the other blessings came early (well, it’s yearlong if you count them all) for me. We have, indeed, the longest Christmas in the planet. I like.

First, I traveled the Philippines from Tawi-Tawi to Batanes in one go—at the Philippine Travel Mart in SMX MOA. It was a wake up call to start moving about the archipelago more. There’s a lot I haven’t seen and I’ve been missing out on the fun in the Philippines, most especially in Mindanao.

I was able to meet and chat with the DOT regional directors of Mindanao who gave a colorful and exciting picture of what’s happening in their areas. The travel bug is biting again. Did I forget to mention I had a selfie with Madame Imelda Marcos? I just had to.

If I need to pack my bags soon, I will have to throw in a reliable travel companion—a Havaianas pair. I got a new one, thanks to MARTISH and MargaNograles for inviting me to this years MYOH (Make your own Havaianas), which was made more exciting with local artist MackyPamintuan’s limited edition Davao pin, featuring the iconic Philippine Eagle, making a debut in the market. Lucky are those who scored a pin and proudly say “I’m wearing a MackyPamintuan…. and my Havaianas” like they’re strutting down a red carpet. Congratulations to Martish and the artist on this impressive collaboration.

Of course, nothing beats the blessing of food, family and fun rolled into one. I had two of these recently, and boy was it fun feasting over great food and giggling like kids while playing games with my peers.

One was in Park Inn Hotel over the launch of RBG’s Supersize Meals promo. The table for twelve was filled with family sized servings of great food, and to put a little thrill on the noontime gathering, the buffet surface was turned into a gaming table. Game of choice—Uno Stacko! A couple others are available like the sungka and Snakes and Ladders.

The next gaming event was over SBTC appreciation dinner, an event the bank hosts for the media yearly. It was another Mid-Autumn Festival themed party, and the Dice Game was in order. With no less than the SBTC bigwigs (and that included the bank president himself) taking the roles of game masters, they made sure everyone’s loot bag was filled with goodies. For the few luckier ones, they got to take home the bigger prizes like an Apple IPad Mini (lucky RA Colina!) for one.

The gift of art is something anyone can cherish, even if you just lay eyes on it. The trip to National Museum was another highlight of the month for me. I finally got to see the Spoliarium, Juan Luna’s magnificent masterpiece, and dwarfed by its grandeur, I got the goose bumps.

I was at lost of words as I ventured into the museum’s inner salas and got presented with another Juan Luna opus, the Parisian Life, Fernando Amorsolo’s amazing collection, the impressive murals of Botong Francisco and Manansala, unique and uncharacteristic works of Cabrera, Kiukok, Sanso and many more artists whose works I admire. I have to thank DOT-XI’s Art Boncato and Eden David for making this happen.

There are three more “ber” months in this year’s calendar and I know there will be more blessings coming my way. I’m like a child giddy with excitement. For all these, I am grateful.

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