Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo of AC+632 and Firma show you how to do the holidays in style

The bon vivants of AC+632 and Firma let us in on their secrets.
IMAGE Edric Chen

Still stumped about what to get that one person who seems to have it all? Drop by AC+632 and Firma, the city’s favorite sources for one-of-a-kind objects. Masters of the good life Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo stock their shops with hard-to-find pieces, from bowler hats to flower lapel pins, from a Victorian silver coffee set to a Jean Paul Gaultier umbrella (that we hope is still there). Any of these magical things will please even the Scroogiest fella like your grandfather. Here, the bon vivants let us in on their secrets to the most stylish holidays.

What would you recommend to give from your stores?

Chito: An antique Chinese lacquer jewel box in bamboo (from Firma), which you can fill up with chrysanthemum tea buds or delicacies like champoy, butong pakwan, or whatever the recipient loves to indulge in.

Ricky: A Victorian silver paté knife with hand-carved mother of pearl handle (from AC+632) plus your homemade paté, or an antique silver bread fork with ivory handle plus a specially ordered loaf of bread meditated upon by serene souls at Brahma Kumaris. Or a retro Ridley’s Games Room set like chess and checkers or “Who Am I?” (from Firma).


Chinese lacquer jewel box

How about a gift that is beautiful but inexpensive?

Chito: A plant lovingly grafted from our ancient balete tree in the garden and sent with all the good wishes for the season.

Ricky: A day spent at the National Museum with nieces and nephews. I’ll be their personal guide.

Your secret source for gifts?

Chito: Luz Ocampo in Malolos, Bulacan for the most heavenly pastillas de leche wrapped in papel de hapon with delicate, lace-like tails painstakingly cut by hand

Ricky: A workshop in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur where they make exquisite bobbin lace cocktail napkins.

How do you wrap these things?

Chito: I use wallpaper with interesting patterns or opulent fabrics like brocade and passementerie for a bow.

Ricky: I make it personal by using textured or printed papers and fabrics, which fit the personality of the recipient or that recall a memory we have together. A jeweled brooch or pin to keep the ribbon together can be added to make it look more precious.

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Silver paté knife with hand-carved mother of pearl handle and antique silver bread fork with ivory handle

How are you going to decorate your home?

Chito: With garlands of cypress adorned with fruits and flowers placed on mirror frames and chandeliers.

Ricky: A fresh tree is always nice. If we have time, we assemble a tree made from our collection of antique crystal hangings. A cornucopia of fruits and nuts on the dining table and poinsettia flowers around the house also make it festive.

What do you look forward to eating on the holidays?  

Chito: Lots of high cholesterol food like foie gras and lechon.

Ricky: Delicacies from friends’ personal kitchens that they make only once a year.

Any destinations you’d like to recommend for the season?

Chito: Berlin. There’s an entire island with the most fabulous museums and a bustling art and design community.

Ricky: Venice is always magical.


Ridley’s Games Room set

How do you spend Christmas day?

Ricky: Before our family celebration, it has been a tradition to turn the car into Santa’s sleigh and drive around the city to distribute packages of holiday cheer to street children and their families.

Your most memorable Christmas? 

Chito: A few years ago, we spent one Christmas night aboard a plane for the first time in our lives. It was a bit awkward celebrating with strangers, but when the champagne bottle popped and the beluga tin was opened, all walls came down and it turned out to be a rowdy Merry Christmas up in the air.

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Clifford Olanday
Editor in Chief, Esquire Philippines
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