Speed shopping has become my expertise. I have mastered the ability to scope out a shopping labyrinth, zeroing in on key items to buy and completing the purchase in record time. Unfortunately, I always hoard and overspend but that’s another story.

This Christmas, I decided to concentrate on gifts that give back to the community or products that support local artisans. I found a lot of thoughtfully selected gift items at Presente, a pop-up event by ArteFino at Rockwell. Co-presented by Power Plant Mall, the shopping bazaar invites everyone to make the holidays meaningful through gift giving that supports and promotes Filipino craftsmanship. “Presente: A Holiday Pop-up” by ArteFino is now open through the entire month of December at the R2 level of Power Plant Mall.

Next to the pop-up at the mall is National Book Store, where I found seven limited edition collections that include stationery, office, travel and gift items. These are perfect gifts for anyone who loves paper products.

National Book Store recently launched Inspire with Passion, a collaboration with seven design influencers including Amina Aranaz Alunan, Cat Arambulo Antonio, Cecile van Straten, Daphne Oseña Paez, Patty Eustaquio, Rajo Laurel and Rissa Mananquil Trillo as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. NBS managing director Xandra Ramos-Padilla shared her passion for locally designed creations, so she selected these top design influencers, tapping into their creativity and personal style to create distinctive and exquisite items.

The successful launch at their flagship branch in Glorietta was graced by the seven design collaborators, and their friends and wellwishers. Amina Aranaz, designer of handcrafted bags, ARANÁZ made her line inspired by nature. Lifestyle writer, and certified fashionista Cat Arambulo – Antonio created a line in a distinctive black-and-white color scheme. Cecile Van Straten, creator of the popular blog chuvaness.com, designed three money-related items. TV host and personality Daphne Oseña – Paez’s line is a bright and colorful pattern inspired by her tropical life. Artist Patty Eustaquio started the design for her items with illustrations of the gumamela flower. Acclaimed fashion designer Rajo Laurel expertly crafted a distinct pattern for his line. Finally, beauty columnist, model, and entrepreneur Rissa Mananquil Trillo took inspiration from her love for Japan and origami.

For me, cookbooks are perfect gifts for young couples that enjoy cooking at home with friends. Available at National Bookstore and Powerbooks, “Feast With Me,” the first book of Stephanie Zubiri Crespi is an idle gift because aside from all the wonderful recipes, the book has travel photos taken by the author during her trips. You can reach Stephanie and more of her recipes and wine pairings through her IG @stephaniezubiri and her website www.stephaniezubiri.com

The official launch was at the Conservatory of the Peninsula Manila. The cookbook, published by Anvil Publishing and Philippine Star, was made possible with the support of Bertazzoni-La Germania, as Stephanie is now their new brand ambassador and Stephanie’s longtime partners, McCormick Philippines.

Guests were surprised to find the venue, done up with the help of Boqueria Lifestyle Market in cooperation with the team of The Peninsula Manila, like a rustic, country village plaza, lush with large plants and soft twinkling lights. Guests lounged and nibbled on recipes cooked straight from the book prepared by the talented chefs of The Peninsula.

The book was designed and worked on closely by the author with award winning book designer Ige Ramos while the body text was edited by Therese Jamora Garceau and the recipes by Dolly Dy-Zulueta. Magic Liwanag took the stunning food and table photography.

Special hardbound editions were sold that evening in support of MovEd (Molding Optimism and Values through Education) nutrition program. Stephanie donated all her royalties from the hardbound edition to be able to fund nutritious meals for the pre-school children in the MovEd program.

MovEd Foundation also certainly teamed up with well-known, globally recognized and multi-awarded furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue. Inspired by the Filipino fishing boat, Banca is a serving plate that comes in different sizes. These specially designed serving plates and home décor are available for sale at Kenneth Cobonpue Showroom at The Residences at Greenbelt (email them at roselen@kennethcobonpue.com
, www.kennethcobonpue.com)

Alexandra Madrigal Eduque, Chair & Founder of Move.Org Foundation Inc. is grateful to Kenneth for his generosity and continued support in their cause. At the recent launch, she shared Early Childhood Education is the key to succeeding in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in the Philippines. More than 60% of children do not have access to early childhood education and MovEd is one of the few that have chosen to focus on this.

My final shopping spot was at the grand launch of Aigle Philippines held at Uptown Mall, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The lovely Mari Jasmine, who wore a Gore-Tex trenchcoat and a pair of handmade in France rubber boots from Aigle, hosted the VIP-filled event.

Representatives from Aigle Asia flew in to celebrate the opening of its first ever store in Southeast Asia. This event is not only huge for the French outdoor lifestyle brand, but also for Noble House Distribution Enterprise—Aigle’s official distributor in the country.

The six lucky winners of the Aigle PH Outdoor Adventure online photography contest were also welcomed on stage to accept their prizes from Aigle. They all won a P30,000 Aigle shopping spree and an all-expense paid Aigle PH Outdoor Adventure at Aquascape Lake Caliraya.

The event ended with representatives from Noble House, Megaworld Corporation, and Aigle Asia engaging in a special ribbon cutting ceremony. Aigle’s flagship store in the Philippines and the first-ever store in Southeast Asia is located at G/F Uptown Mall, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Follow Aigle on social media: @AiglePH on Instagram and Aigle Philippines on Facebook.

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