Maligayang Pasko! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Feliz Navidad!
For as long as we waited and prepared for it, for the length of time that we anticipated it, almost holding our breath, so did Christmas come, and go, so soon and so suddenly, gone in a flash... And then there's all the waiting to be done again for the next Christmas.
My favorite Christmas character this year is a philanthropist whose original incarnation was as an expert in the beauty business. Having multiplied his fortune many times over, he built a house that his friends called a palace, and set it in the middle of a garden amid fountains, pools and ponds. He fitted the palace with magnificent chandeliers, and under their diamond-like illumination, held his twice-a-year parties to celebrate life with the best of them.
At their last Christmas dinner, he confirmed that he would be leaving his home in a few weeks, having sold the house to a lady who fell in love with it the first time she viewed it with a feng shui man from Hong Kong. He declared, ''At this stage of my life, all I want is to simplify my life.''
He's moving into a smaller space - up on the 30th floor - and leaving everything in the palace, lock, stock and barrel, let his partner figure out the logistics of parking so many wide-bodied SUVs in the basement of the condo.
Where is all this uncharacteristic simplifying coming from? The way his friends see it, his heart is full. Hans Sy has just turned over a big building to his pet project, Child Haus, to provide aid and comfort to sick children. After the holidays, he will review his plans to start a retirement village for can-afford elders, and he will continue to convince the vain and the beautiful why stem cell therapy works, if only ''because its effects look good on me!'' Oh, yes, any chance he gets, he will wear his emeralds and diamonds, ''to stop those rumormongers from saying that I'm now a poor man!''