Sunday, September 18, 2011


"Hello Tita Heart, Good Evening po." I was already near the exit of the department store when I saw the girls' dresses on display. Above the rack was a cardboard that says 20% discount.  

"Nasa sale po kasi ako. Naisip kong bilhan na ng pamasko sina Vito at Crissa." Tita Heart chuckled. After all, her grandchildren are my niece and nephew. My call must have been unexpected since I dialed her number just to ask what the kids would like to receive as Christmas gifts and it's just September.

"Sandali teka ha..." I heard my aunt calling her daughter-in-law. She was not around.

"Ikaw na ang bahala. Alam ko namang magaling ka diyan eh."

"Sigurado kayo, wala kayong ipapabili sa akin para sa kanila?" I picked up a spaghetti strap top with Dora the Explorer print. It comes with an orange leggings. The price is 320 pesos. 

Not bad for a pair. I would have bought the dress if they have a smaller size.

"Ilang taon na nga po ulit si Crissa?"

"2 years old pero mataba." Tita Heart paused for a bit. I knew she was smiling. "Malaki ang puwet."

"Ok po," I grinned while trying to picture my niece. It's been almost a year since I last saw her. "Si Vito po?" 

"Mag wa-one year old ngayong November." 

Yes, I remember. My cousin's boy was born a week after Baby Lenin.

"Sige po Tita Heart, yun lang. Usap na lang ulit tayo kapag naligaw ako diyan." I immediately dropped the call. Certain that I won't be allowed to take a leave on All Saints Day to visit my dad, the next time I would see my aunt is probably on December.

So I returned to the Manila Book Fair to check the books I was planning to buy last Wednesday. But unlike most people who go there to acquire tomes for their personal indulgence, mine were already earmarked for loved ones.

The money I had set aside for splurging was well spent. I bought a bunch of inspirational books from OMF Literature, which at that time was having a Worship service while people flock their exhibit. I was also able to speak to some Buddhist volunteers who promised to keep in touch in case I decide to join their meditation classes.

At Anvil, Ambeth Ocampo signed a book I was planning to give to my cousin. Meanwhile I found the perfect young adult novel for my goddaughter. (who I have not spoken for ages, and whose ties that bind us together are the yearly tribute of books I give during the holidays)

The loot I was able to bring home was only a fraction of what appears on my Christmas list this year. And for all it's worth, I was completely satisfied with the booty. However, I also learned that the mall across the convention center was having a sale. Some items were on 50% discount and the drop in prices was enough to weaken my resolve to avoid the mall at all cost.

My plan was to buy three pairs of socks and then leave the department store as fast as I could.

But when I spotted a Bossini shirt at half its original price. My eyes suddenly gleamed. At the same time, I remembered the unused credit card still snugged in my wallet. 

You know, in case of emergencies.  

The story ends with me spending the next hour and a half holding back the temptation to grab everything at whim.  

I went home with another loot bag, this time, owing the bank a couple of grands and a realization that the book convention was just a front. It was the last quarter sale that swept me off my feet.