Christine Bersola and Mommy Ching on to their annual bazaar

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MOM’S advice: Smile to customers even if they don’t buy anything.

MANILA, Philippines—It is one unique mother-daughter bonding tradition that trumpets a noble cause.

For Christine Bersola-Babao and her Mommy Ching, the Grand International Importers and Exporters Christmas Bazaar was an avenue not only for the mother-daughter tandem to continue their “passion” for bazaars, but to also make a difference in the lives of many “entrePinoys” as well as underprivileged Filipinos.

Babao explains that her Mommy Ching was one of the first so-called biyahera or bazaarista of her time and so organizing this celebrity and charity bazaar—which started today (November 9) and will run until Sunday (November 11) at the World Trade Center—came naturally for her.

“Unknown to many, my mom has been a mompreneur—a bazaarista since I was in high school. She was a biyahera, traveling to Hong Kong and Bangkok to import clothes, shoes and accessories. We sold them in our boutiques in Virra Mall and Shoppesville Greenhills,” Babao recalls.

“It was my mom who taught me my entrepreneurial and life’s survival skills. For instance, how to deal with clients, how to ‘salestalk’ customers and how to be patient with all kinds of shoppers. I remember having customers who would ask me to bring down all the clothes from the display window, fit them all but end up not buying anything. Still, I smiled and I kept my cool. My mom reminded me: ‘Smile to your customers all the time,’” she further explains.

Today, Babao proudly shares that she is helping make her Mommy Ching’s senior years “fruitful, productive and unpredictable” by helping her organize bazaars. The mother-daughter tandem would often participate as bazaar merchants in the past, but over the recent years, they have started to become the organizers.

Babao admits that organizing bazaars is tough, stressful and challenging. However, the Grand International Importers and Exporters Christmas Bazaar, now in its sixth year, is a different story altogether as it is driven toward helping Filipinos.

“It feels good when you are on a mission. We are the ultimate mother and daughter tandem,” she says.

According to Babao, the entire proceeds from the celebrity and charity bazaar will be donated either to the charity of choice of the celebrities who donated the items for sale at the bazaar, or to the organizer’s pool of funds, which shall be donated to the Shepherd of the Hills Orphanage, and a sick child from Gawad Kalinga Amparo Novaliches named Judymae.

“TV 5’s Good Morning Club will have a booth, which will sell clothes, shoes by Paolo Bediones, Edu Manzano, Cheryl Cosim, Amy Perez, Chiqui Roa Puno, Shalala, Lucky Mercado, April Baby ‘Congrats,’ Grace Lee, and yours truly and other stars from the Kapatid Network like Dolly Ann Carvajal, Derek Ramsey, Bing Loyzaga, Tessa Prieto and Shalani Soledad Romulo,” Babao shares.

Other celebrities who donated pre-loved items are Sharon Cuneta, Boy Abunda, Dawn Zulueta, Pokwang, Jericho Rosales, Angeline Quinto, Xyriel Manabat’s, Ryan and JudyAnn Agoncillo’s, Julius Babao, Iza Calzado, Bea Alonzo, Toni Gonzaga, Erich Gonzales, Aga and Charlene Muhlach.

Apart from the celeb booths the bazaar will also showcase unique gift items and serve as hosts to merchants—from the single moms, young students, newly grads to returning OFWs—who all wish to become entrepreneurs.

“Let us all encourage them and make them succeed as entrePinoys. When you shop in my bazaar, you are going to help the many merchants—the Shepherd of the Hills Orphanage when you buy the cookies and paintings made by the orphans; Caritas Manila will sell handmade crafts made by cooperatives; Women’s Correctional will sell magazine racks, placemats and coaster, Christmas trinkets, beaded bags, knitwear—all made by the women of the Correctional in Mandaluyong whom I personally met when I visited them [recently],” Babao narrates.

Also joining the bazaar are The Kababaihan ng Gawad Kalinga Art 2 Heart Village, The Angono Cooperative and World Vision.

“I gave the booths to these charitable institutions gratis et amore so that they can raise funds without the rental costs. This yearly bazaar is my way of helping all these entrePinoys with individual human interest stories to share,” Babao concludes.

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