During the mad rush toward the holidays (or in my case, trying to stave it off, not unlike the Grinch), I start longing for the days when life was simpler and I could enjoy Christmas for what it truly means.
There was a time when Christmas was not about cramming as much work as you could into the workdays leading up to the holidays, or adjusting deadlines to accommodate the half-dead (as far as getting any real work done) month of December.
It was not about shopping either, or sitting in traffic even during supposedly off- peak hours, or about fighting the temptation to max out your newest credit card by buying things online. (Did you notice how banks throw pre-approved credit cards at you during the ‘-ber’ months?)
It is also difficult to get into the Christmas spirit when you cannot seem to tear your eyes away from the news only to see the Western world, as you have known it in the last two decades, falling down around your ears. Difficult but not impossible.
This is the season we commemorate the birth of the Savior. And amid all the noise, what was true over 2,000 years ago is still very real today. As the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10, NASB).
I cannot imagine a world where that kind of “good news of great joy” did not exist. Or, at least, I cannot imagine living in it without getting a heart attack from all the stress and bad news.
This is still a business magazine so I have to remark on the good news local retailers are enjoying. The malls are packed and, gauging by the mall-bound procession of cars clogging Manila’s major arteries, sale or no, it does not look like it is going to ease up anytime soon.
I had coffee recently with Carlos Cabochan, president of the Philippine Association of Supermarkets, and he pointed out how the line between retail and wholesale was fast disappearing. This is true not only in the Philippines but in China as well.
In the Philippines, you have discount giants led by SM Supermarket and huge price clubs like Puregold that have closed the gap between wholesale and retail. And you no longer have to overload your baggage to hoard your favorite goods from overseas with mammoth S&R stores all over the city. But what will happen to the small independents?
China’s small independents are still doing well. But the prospect of giant Walmarts and Carrefours is unsettling small players. So why is the mood still optimistic? That is what our cover story tackles. And it is not just plain old Asian optimism at work.
We also have a story on the church architecture of Harbin in Northeast China. During the recent Ad Congress in Camarines Sur, I had the opportunity to photograph four beautiful churches (which we will feature in a future issue). While the Harbin churches are now mere museums, the CamSur churches are still used for worship.
The Chinese construction is undoubtedly superior, especially in terms of faithfulness to the era. But no one can deny that it is the interior architecture of Philippine churches that makes the spirit soar.
May your spirit soar above the bedlam—this Christmas and in the coming year.
Print ed: 12/11 - 01/12