Getting into the holiday spirit | Inquirer Business
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Getting into the holiday spirit

/ 12:20 AM December 06, 2015

Can you believe it’s the first Sunday of December already?! It’s that time of year when the Scrooge in you must be suppressed and the spirit of Santa released!

I know how overwhelming it can be, especially for the busy executive, to search for and put gifts together. So here is a little gift guide (part 1) to help you stay sane in this season of shopping and gift giving!


Ju.D Lao’s Fruitcakes

The Eraserheads were right in saying that “there’s a fruitcake for everybody.” My personal favorite among commercial ones is this one by Ju.D Lao. The grand old dame of fruitcakes has been making these fruitcakes since 1975! Some of you might remember her “Chewy Chewkies” from the 1980s.


At the time, the two-pound loaf was only P50. (Can you believe it? That’s not even a cup of good coffee with today’s inflation.)

It is heartwarming to know that her recipe, which took a good six months to develop, inspired by a trip to Switzerland where she tasted for the first time a fruitcake that she enjoyed, is still around today. This fruitcake is beautifully ornamented, does not scrimp on ingredients, and beautifully packaged.

They have cookie versions as well.  Call 6331188 or 6330260 for orders.

Personalized Cupcakes and Christmas Crates by OC’s Kitchen

I was first introduced to OC’s Kitchen a few years ago by foodie friends Cyrene dela Rosa and Aleth Ocampo. Aleth is the sister of Anna Ocampo Sarmiento, the pastry artist and chef behind the OC’s Kitchen label. (Anna and Aleth are sisters of historian and Inquirer columnist Ambeth Ocampo.) Anna creates the most beautiful personalized cupcakes. For instance, if your beneficiary is a golf addict, she can design it with a golf club design. How’s that for a personal touch? But if you don’t have time, she also has Christmas crates available containing a mini Santa Claus stuffed toy, crispy ukoy, ube crisps and oatmeal crisps. These crisps, by the way, are so addictive, I have them all year round. Find OC’s Kitchen on Facebook or call 0917-8126833, 0917-8126844 or  3987679 for orders.


Chit Juan, an advocate of the Slow Food Movement, recommends going local in gift-giving. She suggests gifting friends with sustainably grown rice and single estate coffees.


The concept of growing sustainable rice is part of a program co-convened by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRR) to promote resource efficiency and sustainable trade flows, production and consumption operations, as well as supply chains in the global rice sector.

Echostore has partnered with farmers in Nueva Ecija, in particular, in this advocacy, becoming the distributor for farmers who are planting not only for themselves but also for the next generation. This rice is available in Echostores nationwide.

Visit or call 8691516 (Echostore Salcedo) or 5763703 (Echostore Serendra) for inquiries.

Manille Liqueur and Imeldifique Cooking Wine

Last year, I suggested the Manille Calamansi Liqueur as a unique and proudly Filipino gift. Destileria Limtuaco has since added the dalandan flavor, in the same sleek packaging as the calamansi. Aside from that, just this past week the company also launched the Imeldifique Cooking Wine (Madame Imelda Marcos did once mention at a dinner with the late great Teyet Pascual and Dr. Marti Magasanoc that she won over former President Ferdinand Marcos not only with her Imeldifique legs but also with her Imeldifique cooking of classic Waray recipes.)

The Imeldifique Cooking Wine was produced in collaboration with the provincial government of Ilocos Norte. Gov. Imee Marcos approached Limtuaco’s Olivia Limpe-Aw during the International Food Exhibition (Ifex) 2015 after spotting the company’s Vigan Basi, and asked if Olivia could also come up with a product for Ilocos Norte.

Olivia then formulated a cooking wine idea using sorghum spirit as a base. Sorghum is endemic to Ilocos Norte and is also distilled into what is known in China as Baijiu (Kaoliang Jiu in Taiwan). She then infused the spirit with native Ilocano garlic, onions and salt to get the Philippine ginisa or sauté flavor that we love. Imeldifique is the first cooking wine from the north incorporating distinct Ilocano flavors.

Manille is available in major grocery stores including Rustans, Shopwise, Cash & Carry, Metro Gaisano and Landmark.

New offerings like the Imeldifique Cooking Wine are available online at and they accept credit card payments.

Nana Meng Tsokolate

This brand started with my dream of having every family enjoy a cup of Nana Meng Tsokolate on their Noche Buena table come Christmas eve. (Nana Meng or Carmen Reyes Perez is my maternal great grandaunt.) Nana Meng carries three kinds of tsokolate, all inspired by what was served at our Sta. Maria, Bulacan ancestral home: a classic mix with peanut butter, a special one with cashew nuts and the pure tsokolate balls (100 percent pure cacao).

My biased opinion is that this is Filipino tsokolate at its best. This is available at Salcedo Market at the Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., or call 0917-7962731 for orders and Christmas packages.


Today, Sunday, is the birthday of Santa Claus and also my birthday.

I have been blessed with many things this year but what I am grateful for the most is another year with my family complete—with both parents as loud and delightfully annoying as ever.

We were challenged with health issues this year but by the grace of our Lord, cancer has only strengthened our sense of family and faith.

We have been graced with the wisdom to see the blessings and not the burdens in what is ordinarily a painful journey.

Shout out to my dad’s doctors Dr. Eduardo Jamora, Dr. Rosalio Torres, Dr. Claver Ramos, Dr. Popeye Abad Santos, Dr. Anthony King, Dr. Von Gonda, Dr. Jimmy Aragon, Dr. Henry Lu, Dr. Andy de los Reyes and Dr. Jackson Dy of Makati Medical Center and Dr. Julette Feliciano Batara, Dr. Marti Magsanoc and Dr. Miriam Joy Calaguas of St. Luke’s, and all their super residents and fellows, who have been God’s miracle workers.

And an ever louder thank you for allowing their patient to continue to indulge in wine while undergoing chemotherapy. Even if I end up drinking the rest of the bottle!

In this season of eating, remember: Don’t count your calories, count your blessings!

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TAGS: chocolate, christmas, cocoa, cupcakes, Echostore, Fruitcakes, Heirloom rice, holiday, Imeldifique Cooking Wine, Ju.D Lao, Manille Liqueur, Nana Meng Tsokolate, OC’s kitchen
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