AS the Christmas spirit fills the December air, different places in the metro have been setting up holiday spreads to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
As magnificently elaborate most of these décors are, along with the endless string of parties, holiday sales and specials, it is good to know that many establishments have ushered in the season showing love and compassion to those in need.
These past two weeks, The Sunday Times Magazine has gone all over town to see how Christmas is being celebrated in the metro with good cheer and a generous heart.
Beautiful Christmas smiles
ADDING on to the wonderful celebration this season, Dusit Thani Manila gathered the most beautiful ladies to celebrate the annual Christmas tree lighting tradition, spearheaded by the hotel’s general manager Alex Willats, together with vice chairman and president of Philippine Hotelier’s Inc., Evelyn Singson.
The star-studded event was hosted by Issa Litton, with melodies provided by acclaimed singer-song writer Jose Mari Chan, who serenaded guests, including reigning beauty queens Miss Universe Philippines 2014 Mary Jean Lastimosa, Binibining Pilipinas International 2014 Mary Anne Bianca Guidotti, Binibining Pilipinas Supranational 2014 Yvethe Marie Santiago, Binibining Pilipinas Intercontinental 2014 Kris Tiffany Janson, Binibining Pilipinas Tourism 2014 Parul Shah, Binibining Pilipinas1st runner-up 2014 Laura Lehman and Binibining Pilipinas 2nd runner-up Hannah Ruth Sison.
Giving the gift of beauty to others, Willats presented the “Gift of Smile” check to Operation Smile, an organization that provides free reconstructive facial surgeries to children.
The hotel recently organized the “Gary V. Smiles for You” charity concert for the benefit of the foundation, which had the entire Valenciano family performance.
For inquiries, call 238 8888 or visit www.dusit.com
Dine for Down
EXCEPTIONALLY talented children from the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. (DSAPI) surprised guests of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Casino in Manila, as they served and entertained at a dinner-for-a-cause following the hotel’s the annual Christmas tree lighting activity.
The children trained with the Hyatt Regency staff to develop their communication and hospitality skills in time for the dinner buffet on November 26 at the Market Café. Guests were treated to a selection of holiday dishes, while children from DSAPI went from table to table to serve and interact with a host of different people.
“We decided to partner with DSAPI to make this year’s Christmas tree-lighting activity a more memorable one. Different from our usual tree lighting event, we invited the children from DSAPI to personally interact with guests, benefitting both the association and people who would like to extend their generosity to these talented children,” marketing communications manager Pia De Villa told The Sunday Times Magazine.
A portion of the activity’s proceeds benefitted the Learning and Development programs of DSAPI, making the Christmas event a truly memorable evening.
For inquiries, call 2632245 1234 ext. 7291.
Manila Mayor at the Grand Dame
Christmas kicked off at The Manila Hotel when Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada led the lighting ceremonies of two spectacular 22-feet Christmas trees at the grand lobby of the hotel.
As an iconic landmark in the heart of Manila, Estrada was at the forefront of the 102-year-old hotel’s tree lighting activity, which showed the Filipino’s enthusiasm in welcoming the Christmas season. The trees are decked with candy cane, white and red Christmas balls, snowflakes, and candies, both glowing with red, white, gold and green lights.
“This season, the magic of the holidays comes to life as the hotel takes inspiration from FAO Schwarz, a magical emporium featuring extraordinary, one-of-a-kind toys and candies from all over the world,” said Nian Liwanag-Rigor, assistant vice president for PR and corporate communications of The Manila Hotel.
Keeping the tradition for decades, the hotel is also celebrating Simbang Gabi at the Roma Salon from December 15 to 23 at 6 p.m.
For inquiries call 527 0011.
FOOD is always at the center of Christmas celebrations. For some, this may mean having to risk certain health conditions or diets if they give in and indulge. At the Marriot Hotel Manila though, they have kept in mind the more health conscious set in their yuletide campaign by offering their “One Hour Drive” Zumba activity under the “Spirit to Serve” campaign.
The program was launched at the hotel’s tree-lighting event, which had young and fit celebrity parents Richard Guiterrez and Sarah Lahbati and their adorable Baby Zion as special guests.
For more information, call 988-9999.
The gift of convenience
Diamond Hotel Philippines is coming to the rescue of moms this year with the launch of its Christmas party platters, featuring holiday staples like Lechon de Leche, Virginia Christmas Ham, and the festive Roasted Turkey.
The convenient Noche Buena feast is made more special by delivery services for a minimum required purchase. Full catering services and services of the chef can also be commissioned for Christmas parties and events.
For inquiries, call 528-3000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hymns and hope
THE two-month long festive season at The Peninsula Manila began with the eventful Christmas tree lighting ceremony, gives couples, families, children, grandparents and friends an opportunity to enjoy the lights, the festive displays, and the grand feast that the hotel has to offer.
For 38 years, the hotel has been celebrating Christmas with different events. And in keeping with its commitment to giving back, it will be the hotel’s second year to participate in The Peninsula Hotels’ worldwide charity program, “Trees of Hope.”
On November 14. the children of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Philippines headed the lighting of the majestic Christmas tree accompanied by the melodious yuletide carols. Guests are encouraged to avail “Trees of Hope” ornaments and Snow Page.
The annual holiday musical line-up, “Celebrations: 31 Years of The Christmas Concert” at The Pen will have Lani Misalucha, Philippine Madrigal Singers, UST Singers and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor Maestro Ruggero Barbieri. A part of the proceeds for this event will benefit the Hope for the Philippines charity fund for families affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
For inquiries call 8872888.
Grand holiday fiesta
Now on its fifth year, the Grand Fiesta 2014 hosted by Resorts World Manila adopts the Festival of Stars theme, with one of the biggest indoor parols as a symbol of light and hope for Filipinos during the Christmas season.
Festivities kicked off with a Christmas tree and giant lantern-lighting ceremony complete with chorale performances at The Plaza in Newport Mall on November 14.
The festivities carry on throughout the month of December with the advance screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on December 10; Hi-5 House Hits at the Newport Performing Arts Theater from December 19 to 22; and an ice sculpting musical show on December 6, among many others.
As in previous years, Grand Fiesta 2014 will culminate with a rocking, free of charge, star-studded New Year’s Eve countdown party featuring Yeng Constantino, Ely Buendia, and The Dawn.
For inquiries, visit rwmanila.com
Into the village
Crimson Hotel Filinvest City Manila took the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony one step further this year by lighting up an entire Christmas Village to signify that the spirit of the season should be shared by all.
As part of the hotel’s commitment to the community, they have chosen the Starlight Training School for the Special Youth as its beneficiary for the holiday season. The school caters to young individuals with special needs and provides livelihood skills training suited to their abilities. Funds will be raised by availing of deluxe room packages or making the hotel’s Café Eight your dinning destination this season.
For inquiries call 863-2222 or email email@example.com.
Songs from the heart
Christmas Solstice is an evening of timeless Christmas carols to benefit children with cancer, held on December 7, 7:30 p.m. at the Ayala Museum in Makati City.
Three of the country’s most sought after young singers today serenade audiences with some of the most beautiful traditional Christmas Carols from the early 17th century until the present.
Heading this concert is soprano Myramae Meneses who received raves for her performance as Maria Clara in de Leon’s opera Noli Me Tangere at RWM. Tenor Ivan Nery, whose role as Crisostomo Ibarra ignited the fire of nationalism among the Filipino audience. Soprano Stephanie Aguilar, a Jovita Fuentes Competition prizewinner, performs with pianist Greg Zuniega.
Among the songs included in the program are de Leon’s “Pasko na, Sinta Ko” and “Payapang Daigdig,” the exquisite Cantique de Noel, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece “Pie Jesu,” Cesar Franck’s nostalgic “Panis Angelicus,” and Handel’s “Lets the Bright Seraphim.”
Proceeds from “Christmas Solstice” will enable families with children who have cancer to get the medical treatment they need.
For tickets, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or the Cultural Arts Events Organizer (CAEO) 782-7164.
Glittery Christmas hampers
Executive pastry Chef Romain Renard prepares an array of treats that include Christmas cookies and chocolates, festive flavored tea, Christmas pudding, English fruitcake, and more, which is packaged among six holiday hampers in leather cases with hand-stitched trim, brass handles and silk lining and opt to customize their hampers to suit any gift preference. The handcrafted Christmas hampers by Makati Shangri-La, Manila will be available and ready for pick-up starting December 1.
For information, call 814 2580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doing good in style
Limited edition red and white striped socks in select McDonalds restaurants in Manila will have stylish Filipinos in a festive mood while they #ShowYourStripes and at the same time, be able to help build the next Ronald McDonald Bahay Bulilit in the country. The campaign is in celebration of the 40th global anniversary of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Ronald McDonald Bahay Bulilit.
It is also in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and with the local government as it aims to build daycare centers in communities in need.
With 25 Ronald McDonald Bahay Bulilit daycare centers to date, the latest Bahay Bulilit was recently opened in Tacloban, Leyte to reinforce its commitment to help the community of Tacloban a year after Typhoon Yolanda.
Use the hastag, #ShowYourStripes and tag @McDo_PH on Twitter and Instagram. Visit mcdonalds.com.ph/content/page/charity for the list of participating stores.