“I'll order a dozen pink roses,” Chris Concepcion says after taking a look at the assorted flowers inside Blossoms Floral's refrigerator.
Beth Egipto, a staffer at the floral shop, smiles as she takes a pen and paper. “Would you like to add balloons or chocolates with that?”
Concepcion ponders the question for a couple of minutes and looks around the shop, checking out its collection of Valentine items.
“I'd like to add white balloons and chocolates and please have them delivered to my wife's office on Valentine's Day,” he finally replies.
Concepcion, who has been married to his wife Natsu for almost three years now, plans to make the celebration extra special by bringing her to a fancy local restaurant for dinner.
Times may be tough in the CNMI but rising gas prices and an ongoing impeachment proceeding seem to take a back seat in the last few days leading to Valentine's Day.
Concepcion said it doesn't matter what the economic condition is as Valentine's Day is only celebrated once a year. “You have to spend a little something to make your loved one [feel] special.”
Ed Baluyan, who works at J's Restaurant, agrees.
“Doing something special for your loved one helps keep the romance alive even after many years. It helps make your relationship grow stronger,” he told Saipan Tribune.
Baluyan said he had to save little by little so he could afford a floral arrangement for his special someone.
“I chose this particular gift because it lasts longer,” he said, pointing to a prepared artificial flower arrangement. “At least, she can still use it to decorate the house even after Valentine's Day.”
Besides flowers and boxes of chocolates, another item that's a huge hit during Hearts Day is stuffed toys.
A Kagman resident, who declined to be identified, said he chose a cute white teddy bear for his wife of five years.
“I wanted to give her a stuffed toy because she can see it every day and it will remind her of me,” he said.
Every year, he said, he gets his wife a gift for Valentine's Day. “I'll give this gift to her personally,” he added.
According to Blossom Floral's Egipto, love is certainly in the air every February.
“Guys are still sweet,” she said. “Even though the floral arrangements they order are not as grand as in the past when the island economy was still at its peak, they still give out Valentine gifts that they can afford-especially flowers.”
While most of their patrons are males, Egipto disclosed that they also get the occasional female customers who like to make the men in their lives extra special on Valentine's Day.
“What I've noticed is that we even get customers who are only teens. I think they really save up to make a good impression on girls they're trying to woo,” she added.
It's not just the floral shops that are seeing a spike in business. Restaurants and hotels are also tied down with Valentine-related promotions and events.
Das Krishnan, food and beverage manager at Fiesta Resort & Spa, said the romantic holiday spawns special offerings that allow couples to celebrate.
For this year, Krishnan said they've come up with a sit-down dinner for $100 per couple at Fiesta Resort & Spa's The Claret, which is inclusive of a choice of any bottle of red or white wine or champagne plus a box of chocolates.
He revealed that several reservations have been made already for tonight's dinner. With the island's “last-minute culture,” Krishnan said they expect to receive additional reservations within the day. Walk-in couples are also expected, he added.
“Economy is definitely not a factor. Whatever state we're in, people still like to go out and spend some precious time during Valentine and other special occasions,” said Krishnan.
He noted that there have been phone calls inquiring if couples can bring their children with them to the dinner, and Krishnan said they had to decline those requests.
“We want to give a nice ambiance for couples, so we don't allow kids in the function. With kids around, couples yearning for their personal time won't enjoy their moment,” he explained.