So today is Valentine's Day.
In the Philippines, it's a very big day, but not in any other place I've lived in.
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CHOCOLATES FOR THE GUYS IN JAPAN
In fact, in Tokyo, where I lived for a long time, it's a most nondescript day characterized by women going around giving chocolates to all the men they know.
We call it "giri choco," which basically means it's courtesy chocolates -- the girls give all the men they know, whether they like them or not.
THE CHOCOLATE HIERARCHY
Of course, everyone sort of understands the hierarchy of "giri choco."
There's the standard box of chocolate for the boss, which costs between US$5 to $20; and the standard chocolate box for co-workers, which usually costs between US$5 and US$12.
People need to think in terms of economies of scale here, when giving giri choco, as there are so many co-workers to give "giri choco" too.
THE ART OF SUBTLE HINTING
Some girls will also give a box of giri choco to a co-worker they secretly like, or to someone they wish will like them back.
Guys in this category will usually get a more expensive or elaborate box of chocolates as a subtle hint of feelings.
It's then up to the guy to do something about it. Or not.
HOME COOKING FOR THE BOYFRIEND
Then there's the boyfriend.
As long as they're not yet walking down the aisle, the girls will usually pull out all the Valentine stops for the boyfriends.
Of course, expensive chocolates are the norm here, and they usually don't look like traditional chocolates at all. You'll have them in the shape of liqueur or race cars -- something definitely masculine.
PROOF OF LOVE
The ultimate declaration of love is to give handmade chocolates that you've prepared from scratch yourself. This usually involves going to a crafts store like Tokyu Hands and buying all the ingredients and materials needed to make the chocolate and package it properly.
Personally, I think this is a rather far-out effort, especially as so few men really like chocolates, and so few women can really make good chocolate unless they've done a course as a patissier somewhere.
Just think about it. The girls are forced to make chocolates to show their love, and the boys are forced to pretend that they're loving the chocolates.
So the efforts are a mismatch on both sides. IMHO, the couple should just have a good time at a restaurant instead.
I'm all for efforts that actually go appreciated, rather than for people trying so hard for nothing.
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HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS TO THE HUSBANDS
As for the husbands, the wives usually don't give them giri choco anymore.
Why is that? You might be wondering.
The husbands come home on Valentine's Day with about 20 or 30 boxes of chocolates from the women at the office, and they usually don't even eat or open a box. It's all the same to the men, usually, whether they get another box of chocolates.
It's the wives and the children who are pretty happy to have a mountain of chocolates at home, enough to last them till the cherry blossoms appear.
PEARLS OVER CHOCOLATES.
So, love and chocolates are pretty much the norm in some places.
As for me, in Manila living a never-endingly eventful Travelife, I'm pretty happy with a perfectly matched necklace of large golden pearls today...
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