Berna Romulo Puyat’s Christmas: Family time, Kris Kringle secrets

BERNA ROMULO PUYAT. Lauded by many for her honesty, integrity, grace, and heart, her dedication to improve our country as the Tourism Secretary of the Philippines inspires.

Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat is a busy lady, pressed for time in between packed schedules, flights, meetings, visits, social gatherings, and family time. What more during the crazy rush that is the holiday season in the Philippines?

Since being appointed Secretary of the Department of Tourism in May 2017, Berna has proven to take her new position in the Philippine government very seriously. But this isn't the only job she pours all her hard work, sincerity, passion, and love into — she also excels as a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and apparently, as a dedicated gift-giver during the holiday season.

A family-oriented woman caring for two children from her late husband Dave Puyat, Berna always ensures that the family traditions and festive spirit of the holiday season continue to live on, no matter what life throws at her. 

Berna set aside a little time of for us in between her busy schedule, offering us a candid sneak peek on her personal life during the holidays, plus her all-time favorite Christmas food, her love for gift-giving, and her plans for this Christmas:

HANDS-ON MOTHER. Berna happily poses with daughter, Maia, and son, Vito, during his graduation at Newcastle University in England.

Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat

Christmas traditions with the family

Berna: There was only one Christmas where we went abroad and that was before my husband passed away. It was strange because we always spend Christmas in Manila. That was the one year when he said he wanted to have a white Christmas.

But usually, our family tradition on Christmas Eve is we normally go to mass with my parents on the 24th. Mass is at 9 pm. We have dinner after, where we have turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and lechon! After dinner with my parents, we rush to my in-laws place for Christmas eve. 

It will be a sad Christmas this year with my in-laws because my mother-in law and 31-year-old brother in law passed away this year. However, we will continue the tradition of spending Christmas eve with the Puyats.

 DAUGHTER AND BROTHER. Behind the busy life of a Tourism Secretary, Berna makes sure that family time always remains a priority. Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat


Christmas traditions with friends

Berna: Yes, I have different small groups of friends! I always make it a point to have Christmas dinners with each group every December. 

View this post on Instagram Missed these girls ♥️ This is exactly what i need after a stressful work month Never a dull moment with my bffs! (As in!)We are @happyongpauco_tiu ’s taste testers for her upcoming project in Rockwell specializing in Lechon Porchetta, Gourmet Lechon Manok and Lechon Angus belly--- with added @entingspecial  with @happyongpauco_tiu @tarasantos @art19b A post shared by Berna Romulo Puyat (@bernsrp) on Jun 22, 2018 at 6:15am PDT

How her job in the government affects her holiday traditions this year

Berna: There have been a few times in the past where the kids and I would go abroad from December 26 to 30. But now, I think I'd prefer to just spend it in Manila and have a staycation with my kids.

I just want to spend time with my daughter and son and sleep!

HARD AT WORK. Tourism Secretary Berna Puyat advocates for transparent bidding, sustainable agri-tourism, responsible tourism, and environmental awareness.

Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MOTHER AND SON. Berna goofs around with her son Vito in front of the Alnwick Castle during a family trip to England.

Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat

View this post on Instagram Missing the three of us A post shared by Berna Romulo Puyat (@bernsrp) on Jul 16, 2018 at 3:06am PDT


Gift-giving practices and what she loves (and doesn’t love) about the holiday season

Berna: I have a very long Christmas list and I make sure I personally choose the gift for each person on my list. I love Christmas, mostly because it makes me happy when the person likes the gift I give.

But my closest friends know that I always freak out when the -ber months start because it means I have to start buying gifts. As I said, I really personally choose the gifts I give every year. But that means Christmas traffic!

GENEROUS AND HAPPY. Berna doesn't hold back when it comes to gift-giving, making the effort every year to get her loved ones what they want.

Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat

Best and most memorable gifts ever received

Berna: When I was still single, our house got robbed. One of the things that were taken was the watch given to me by my boyfriend then (who eventually became my husband). That Christmas, he gave me the same watch with a note saying, “Everything is irreplaceable but you." 

But the best gifts I received? I actually like every gift I receive, knowing that the person thought of you for Christmas.

Best gifts ever given

Berna: We have Kris Kringle in the office, where each of us writes down 3 items they want for Christmas in their wishlist. You can choose to give one out of the 3, but me? I always give the 3. It makes me happy that the person I picked was able to receive the 3 things he/she liked.

 Favorite Christmas memory

Berna: Every Christmas spent with my kids is always a favorite, especially now since I rarely get to see them.

View this post on Instagram Went home for a day just so I could go to @marompu_’s event at The Alley at Karrivin! #proudmom A post shared by Berna Romulo Puyat (@bernsrp) on Sep 22, 2018 at 12:50am PDT


Favorite Christmas food

Berna: Turkey with baked kamote! (sweet potato)

What's on her Christmas wishlist this year

Berna: Very specific —an Otterbox phone case, a cord for the phone, and a battery charger. But what I really need is a new phone because my current phones are so beat up but I really am too kuripot to buy a new one. 

A Christmas gift she wishes she could give the Filipino people

Berna: Tourist destinations in the country where everyone follows the law!

ON-SITE. One of Berna's biggest sustainable tourism projects for 2018 was the 6-month closure and rehabilitation of Boracay Island.

Photo courtesy of Berna Romulo Puyat


View this post on Instagram A post shared by Berna Romulo Puyat (@bernsrp) on Apr 4, 2018 at 9:02pm PDT


Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.