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65 days to Christmas, and Rustan’s is all red–and blue

Generations of Tantocos hold annual gathering to open Christmas Shop–and to show that the Filipino Yuletide celebration is all about family
/ 05:52 AM October 22, 2017

Rustan’s means Christmas, and Christmas means family: Michael T. Huang, Paolo Tantoco, Nena V. Tantoco, Donnie Tantoco and Zenaida Tantoco –thelma san juan

When Rustan’s hosts its annual thanksgiving get-together with media, the Tantoco family and the Rustan’s team try to replicate what it’s like when the guests are in their own homes on Christmas Eve, surrounded by loved ones.

The space is beautifully decorated in traditional Christmas trimmings. There’s a table replete with holiday fare. Christmas carols fill the air. The overall mood is “intimate, joyful and relaxed,” as it is when one’s with family and friends, said Donnie Tantoco, president of Rustan’s.


This year’s gathering, held Thursday at Rustan’s Makati, was no different. Three generations of Tantocos, including great-grandchildren, welcomed an intimate group of media friends in the official unveiling of the Rustan’s Christmas Shop on the fifth floor of the Makati store.

Filled with Christmas trees, trimmings in the brightest red, vibrant blue and shimmering metallics, Rustan’s has become a happy place.

The day began the store’s holiday countdown of 65 days before Christmas—Rustan’s is marking its 65th Christmas this year. The Christmas Shop is awash in shades of blue to celebrate the Sapphire anniversary.

Santa’s little helpers being silly with Santa: Alana Tantoco, Nicola Lopez, Zachary Tantoco, Bella Tantoco, Mio Lopez and Taty Lopez —Cheche Moral

“As a member of the third generation, I feel pride for what the Rustan’s team has done, under the leadership of [CEO] Nedy and [VP for home merchandising] Marilen Tantoco, to make Christmas at Rustan’s even more inspiring, more beautiful and more special than last year,” Donnie Tantoco said in his welcome remarks.

His mother Nena, brother Paolo, sister-in-law Dina, and cousin Michael T. Huang were also present.

While the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir sang traditional carols, guests feasted on roast turkey, baked Chilean sea bass, assorted pastas, as well as bibingka and hot chocolate.

“I take pride in what my lolo, Bienvenido Tantoco, Sr., and my lola, Gliceria Rustica Tantoco, my elders and several generations of Rustan’s employees for the last 65 years, for making the Rustan’s name so strongly connected with the spirit, emotion, beauty, and most cherished moments of Christmas for Filipino families,” Tantoco added.

A festive little setup for that perfect Christmas photo —Thelma San Juan

Until Dec. 24, the luxury department store is holding electronic raffles for its loyal customers, with top prizes that include P65,000 shopping sprees at Rustan’s (five winners) and a P65,000 to be credit to one winner’s HSBC credit card, and a round-trip business-class tickets for two to London via Philippine Airlines. It has also opened its Christmas Registry for the gifting season. (Check out or follow @rustansph on Instagram, Rustans PH on Facebook for details.)

“I believe this mental and emotional connection between Rustan’s and Christmas is so vibrant because, for my elders and the Rustan’s team, it’s a source of passion. I think they’ve made it their mission and responsibility to do our best and make Christmas very, very special for Filipino families. My predecessors have been doing that for 65 years.”


Rustan’s, he added, is a name associated with Christmas. “It also stands for wonderful virtues, like trust, quality, personalized care and service, beauty and taste, style sophistication, global and also Filipino excellence.”

Three generations of Tantocos at the opening of the Christmas Shop in Rustan’s Makati—photo courtesy of yvette Fernandez

Like every Filipino family, Christmas is a sacred holiday for the Tantocos. Christmas Eve is spent by the whole clan at the home of the former diplomat patriarch, Benny, 96—a tradition that hasn’t been broken even after his wife and Rustan’s cofounder Glecy passed 23 years ago.

To cap the gathering, Santa came bearing personalized gift sacks and Christmas stockings with five little helpers, all great-grandchildren of the store’s founders.

Little elves at the Christmas Shop —THELMA SAN JUAN

Thanksgiving feast of baked Chilean sea bass and roast turkey with all the trimmings —Cheche Moral

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TAGS: Christmas Shop, Filipino Yuletide, Lifestyle, Rustan's
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