With Lanterns and Lights Glittering, It’s Christmas time in the Philippines

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By CLAIRE RIVERA MORALES TRUE
Managing Editor
Special to Philippines Today
QUEZON CITY (PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA) – After the nation marked a somber All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Filipinos are now in festive mood as Christmas celebration in the Philippines, the longest in the world, virtually started.
This as the management of the Araneta Commercial Center in Cubao, Quezon City lit up its giant Christmas tree besides the Araneta Coliseum and its Christmas decor all over the center.
The center also opened its Christmas bazaar where one can buy Christmas toys, lanterns and decors.
With the giant lantern and Christmas bazaar are food stalls featuring the famous “bibingka” and “puto bumbong” and other native viands.
For many years, the Manila COD Department Store at the Araneta center was a big attraction during the Christmas season with its colorful display of the nativity and Christmas.
In San Fernando City, Pampanga, considered the country’s lantern capital, lanterns are lighted in the evening along the Gapan-Olongapo Road (officially known now as the Jose Abad Santos Avenue) and main thoroughfares as lantern stores spruce up the highway with their displays of lanterns and decors of various colors and shapes.
There’s one sad note, however, in San Fernando – it’s once famous attraction – the Paskuhan Village – has closed and there seems to be no hope yet for its reopening.
The closure of the only center known for its Christmas name in the country came after it was reportedly bought by the SM Group of Companies.
The big Paskuhan Village was already set for redevelopment, but many residents of Pampanga and Central Luzon reportedly opposed the sale.
No official decision has been made public on whether or not the sale of the Paskuhan Village will push through, keeping the sentiments for its re-opening aflame.
In Las Pinas City, the lantern capital of Metro Manila and Rizal province when it used to be part of the province, Sen. Cynthia  Villar has supported residents in their “parol” making trade, many of whom still do the traditional bamboo and paper “parol” or lantern.
In Mandaluyong City, a big house lighted with thousands of Christmas lights and embellished with Christmas decors is ready for the Christmas season.
Aside from the Araneta Center, many other shopping centers like those of SM of the Sy family, the Ayala Centers of the Zobels and Ayalas, Robinsons of Gokongweis and the Star Mall of the family of former Senate President Manny Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar are all set up for the “happiest season.”
Lately, Makati City s claimed the title as the Christmas capital of Metro Manila with millions of lights decorating its main avenues and its business centers.
On Nov. 3, the city of Makati held its ceremonial street lighting of Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas at the Tower & Exchange Plaza fountain area, Ayala Triangle, according to an Inquirer report.
While last year Ayala Avenue was festooned with the silhouettes in light of the country’s historic churches, this year the decor down Ayala Avenue will be colorful stained glass.
The lighting kicks off the Ayala Land Christmas Splendor.
According to a report, highlights of the Christmas celebration in Makati are staycation offerings at Fairmont, Raffles and Holiday Inn; an amazing Festival of Lights; the tallest Christmas tree to be lit at Circuit, and the ultimate shopping experience.
MasterCard offers amazing deals in the city’s finest hotels. A stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites Makati entitles one to complimentary stay in a chosen Holiday Inn partner hotel abroad. For every night stay on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday on Best Available Rate, an equal one complimentary night will be provided at either Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit 22 or Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong. Holiday Inn has 2+1 offer of buffet lunch or dinner at Flavors Restaurant.
Fairmont Hotel offers 50-percent off on a Best Available Rates package on weekends, which includes a daily breakfast buffet for two and a 1+1 lunch buffet at Spectrum, one night prepaid, nonrefundable deposit, plus 50-percent off regular spa treatments.
Raffles Makati offers 30-percent off on Best Available Rates package on weekends which includes a daily breakfast buffet for two at Spectrum, suite accommodation for two, classic afternoon tea and evening cocktails for two priority waitlist for upgrade, a one-night prepaid, nonrefundable deposit plus 50-percent off on regular spa treatments.
There are also exciting food and spa offers. Long Bar gives one complimentary choice of tapas for Happy Hour, while Spectrum has a 3+1 offer on its delightful buffet. The Willow Stream Spa offers 30-percent off on regular spa treatments.
At the Ayala Triangle Gardens, the Festival of Lights transforms the city into a magical spectacle. Already a Christmas tradition, this lights-and-sounds show has been named among Conde Nast Traveller’s Seven Most Spectacular Lights Shows in the World.
Away from the business district is another destination— Circuit Makati’s biggest outdoor Christmas tree, an immersive Christmas tree installation to entertain guests. The 56-ft-high outdoor Christmas tree will have gifts and surprises to kick off your holiday shopping.
For serious holiday shopping, there’s the Circuit Makati Bazaar, featuring over 500 outlets for great holiday finds, plus celebrity booths, musical performances and outdoor games. (Claire M. True/PhilAmPress/cmtpr1962@yahoo.com.ph)070616 page 01-15 part 1 natl.indd

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