MANILA, Philippines - Ten days from now, people are going to celebrate what is considered the sweetest time of the year -- Valentine's Day.
Traditionally, lovers express affection toward each other by giving flowers, confectionery and greeting cards on February 14, causing the prices of these products to soar through the roof.
For those who are already tired of giving the ubiquitous roses and chocolates, there are plenty of alternative gifts available in the market today if you know where to look.
You can even create your own Valentine's Day present -- it's all about resourcefulness and creativity.
Here are some ideas that may help you get started:
Adding your personal touch to a gift will make the recipient feel more special.
It could be as simple as a hand-written note to something over-the-top, such as your partner's face drawn on a cake.
Personalization isn't limited to food, pens and jewelry, however. Apple, for one, is providing free laser-engraving on its iPods and iPads upon purchase of these gadgets.
It could be your partner's name or any personal message, from "I love you" to "Always and Forever."
Most of the time, love is best expressed through a song.
If you can't write a song to save your life, you can choose from a variety of romantic melodies for your significant other.
You can perform these songs for him or her, place them in a CD or have other people sing for you.
A good choice is the Philippine Madrigal Singers, who are set to perform new arrangements of timeless love songs from around the world in a concert titled All for Love, to be held on February 12 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater in Pasay City.
ABS-CBN's Star Records, meanwhile, is offering Valentine CD cards, which contain music from local artists such as Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera and Aiza Seguerra, among others. Each CD card is priced at P170.
Puppies make great companions and can give you and your partner a crash course in parenting.
Each puppy has its own set of traits. But for those who have no experience in handling pets, shih tzus are ideal as they are sweet and friendly to anyone.
These little bundles of joy can serve as your "first baby," teaching you and your loved one how to be more caring and responsible.
Knowing your partner's needs is also an expression of love.
Practical gifts such as kitchen utensils and office supplies can be romantic too, if given a unique twist.
Coffee addicts, for instance, will surely enjoy a color-changing "magic mug" that can make their drinking experience more interesting.
For big-budget gift-givers, jewelry is one of the best ways to make a person feel extra special.
It could be anything from a set of pearls to gold necklaces and silver bracelets, depending on your significant other's taste.
One of the newest jewelers in town is Pandora, a Danish brand that specializes in customizable charm bracelets.
For Valentine's Day, Pandora is offering 3 bracelets in plain silver, 14-karat gold and 2-tone with charms that "epitomize everything romantic."Also available are little heart pendants in silver and 14-karat gold adorned with pink zirconias and white diamonds, respectively.