WE have varying interpretations of what the “best gift” to ever land on our hands is. It could be as grand as a weeklong overseas trip or as simple as a smile on the face of someone we desire in secret.

This Yuletide – a season of giving – we asked several Iloilo residents what for them is the best present they have received or could ever receive. Straight from those with varying ways of living, we learn that this could be as modest as a T-shirt from a daughter or a toy giraffe, or as singular as life itself.

Ezzy John Peler, 21

Barangay Balibagan Oeste, Santa Barbara, Iloilo

Philippine Air Force

The best Christmas gift for me is being able to come home and celebrate Christmas with my family. Based in Cebu as a Philippine Air Force officer, I am away from family most of the time and could come home only every three months. I already experienced Christmas away from family and it was not as happy as Christmases should be. This year will be different.

Whenever I am home on Christmas, we would celebrate with relatives, cook a lot of food and share them – like in every Christmas party. This Christmas, I wish for my family to be always healthy.

Peter Morris, 66

Phase M, Block 2, Parc Regency Residences

Retired marine biologist

When I was a child the best gift Christmas gift I received was a large toy giraffe made of rubber. I really wanted it. It was my favorite.

Growing up, I spent Christmas with my family in Birmingham. When I was already working, I moved to central London, and there I spent Christmases at the Aquarium.

A typical Christmas for me at the time was cooking food for 20 coworkers – roast turkey, pudding, shepherd’s pie, among others. In England, we would celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 25th, not on Christmas Eve, the 24th.

At the time being able to come home to Birmingham was a huge privilege. If I got a day off, I would travel by train for three hours to see my parents and siblings. I would stay for a couple days before heading back to central London.

Mary Jean Lucero, 20

Barangay Poblacion Ilaya, Lambunao, Iloilo

Customer service representative, Startek Iloilo

The best gift I ever received? Life itself. Life gave me a lot of blessings and gifts I never asked. It filled my emptiness. It fed my soul with so much hunger for love and care. I cannot do the things I want to do if I am unable and lifeless.

But I also believe there is something in store for me – and God is making it. Sometimes some gifts come to us unexpected and they make us think about what good we have done to deserve them – and how lucky we are.

Trust God. He’s busy plotting your future. Fail once, succeed endlessly. Some roads may be rough but the Lord’s plan for you isn’t.

Cleoford Lopez Arguilles, 22

Barangay Sablogon, Passi City

Transcom Call Center

Until now I still have not yet received any gift I can consider the best.

While I have received material things and my loved ones are present every Christmas, I have not yet had anything I could consider the best.

But this year I wish to receive that kind of gift – the most precious and valuable I would ever have so far. The best is yet to come and will sure find its way into my path.

Best things come to those who wait.

This year I am spending Christmas with family in Cebu City.

Eduardo Gepana, 55

Villa, Arevalo, Iloilo City

Basketball referee

The best gift I ever received so far was a shirt given by my daughter. It has become my favorite ever since.

We do not celebrate Christmas anywhere else aside from our house.

It has become a tradition to have a family reunion, with relatives getting together for a day of fun, at home every Christmas.

But we were able to celebrate the holiday in Guimaras 10 years ago. That happened just once.

Liza Jane Pineda, 23

Passi City

English teacher

A dress given by my mother is the best gift I have ever received so far. It was unexpected – and it was expensive!

I always celebrate Christmas at home with the whole family. It is very simple but priceless. We would cook food and share them with neighbors.

I teach in Manila, and I would always find a way to celebrate the holidays with my loved ones. Being able to come home is such a huge blessing for me.

Ashley Benedicto, 24

Barangay Divinagracia, La Paz, Iloilo City

Cardiopulmonary technologist

Being able to travel is the best gift I have had. When I travel I can unwind and it relieves me of stress caused by daily problems and the hectic routines in the city. It makes me understand myself better.

A typical Christmas for us is gathering at home. Most of the time, however, we are incomplete. Conflicting schedules, work, the fact that some in the family work abroad, all these get in the way. But we would always find means to communicate. Communication is key.

At home is where I spent my childhood so it is the best place to spend Christmas. My family believes it is the safest place to have Christmas dinners. This has become a tradition.

After spending time with family I would go with my childhood friends, have a few drinks and share some laughs all throughout the night.

Alfonso Jandonero Jr., 22

Barangay Divinagracia, La Paz, Iloilo City

Sangguniang Kabataan kagawad

I do not really ask for anything material or extravagant.

The best gift I have received so far is the fact that my family is complete and that we love each other.

This Christmas I wish everyone in the family would be healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally – in the years to come.

Asking for material things during Christmas is too common. They give temporary happiness. For me what would give lasting happiness is having my family around.

We celebrate Christmas at home, where everyone is comfortable, at ease. We share interesting stories, dance around. A simple celebration is enough.

Our Christmas Eve dinner is simple, too. My siblings and I would assist our parents in setting the table. After dinner we would gather in the living room and chat. We are pretty much content with this as long as everyone is around./PN


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