The business of love

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TODAY is the peak of the high season for restaurants, florists, cineplexes, taxicabs, jewelry stores, concert promoters, and the entire hospitality industry – especially hotels, resorts, and motels.

Valentine’s Day in the Philippines is celebrated with much hype, aping Western countries where it originated as a day to honor the Roman goddess of love, Juno, and later as a tribute to Saint Valentine, a martyred Italian bishop.

Based on the annual Mastercard Love Index released by the global payments technology firm, the “sentimental spending” of Filipino consumers during Valentine season rose 22% from 2015 to 2017. Over the same period, e-commerce or online shopping grew by 20% and the overall number of transactions jumped 36%.

This year, the day of hearts falls on Ash Wednesday. Our predominantly Catholic nation marks the start of the Lenten season by fasting, abstinence from meat, and having their foreheads smeared with ashes. Other Christian denominations around the world likewise observe such rituals and practices of sacrifice.

But it’s also the first time in 73 years that the solemn religious “holy day” and the unofficial secular “holiday” are on the same date. Last time it happened was in 1945, right after the catastrophic Liberation of Manila toward the end of World War Two.

How would Filipinos reconcile these two extremes of feasting and fasting? And will the so-called love businesses’ profits get affected this year? Abangan!

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