“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”—the first line of a song we all hear on the radio these days, and one that captures how the season is beginning to unfold in the city.
Quite unique perhaps to the Filipino culture is our love and ardor for the Christmas season. Maybe such excitement for Christmas is brought about by the presence of a largely Christian populace in the country.
Also, the season also shows how the metropolis can look like a resplendent city bathed in the spectacular colors and light shows at least for some time.
A few weeks back, my family and I were enthralled at the eye-catching Christmas decorations in Powerplant Rockwell mall. With garlands wrapped around large columns, painted in a copper-orange hue, and highlighted by orange mini-lights, the entire corridor resembled a well-lit street in autumn. The ornate details were marvelously done from the lanterns hanging from the mall’s ceilings to the plant boxes along the mall’s walkways.
Not to be outdone however, of course are Ayala Triangle’s Christmas light show and Greenhills Shopping Center’s moving display.
On the drive home in Makati every evening, I’m often surprised at how many runners fill Ayala’s green space. I’m quite sure that the Christmas light display makes their evening run more delightful these days, though the space a bit crowded as families converge towards the Ayala Triangle as well.
In Greenhills, on the other hand, the Nativity scene is re-enacted by moving life-size figures you can see even a kilometer away. One will be amazed at how real the scenes seem from the Magi dressed in opulent robes while mounted on camels, shepherds in white splendor, and Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus inside a rustic stable. Decades ago, this Christmas show was part of the annual attraction that drew crowds to the old COD (Christmas on display) department store in Cubao. Fortunately, the attraction was restored in Greenhills and still thrills the old and young alike every evening. Sans the fireworks, the Nativity scene is one attraction worth seeing this season.
As homes prepare for the Yuletide, we all begin to see the Filipino Christmas parol (star-shaped lantern) as the focal point in many homes. These lanterns made in cottage industries in Pampanga and Las Pinas have won acclaim both here and abroad. My friend Vicki, who now resides in New Zealand, even hand-carried the parol on her flight back to NZ two years ago.
But should you be on the lookout for some well-made local Christmas ornaments, Tiendesitas and the Greenhills tiangge (the equivalent of a flea market) will not disappoint. I also wish that more local bazaars would come up to show how stunning some of our local craft products are. Luckily, we have the tiangge and Tiendesitas to run to. From colored fiberglass lanterns to star-shaped capiz garlands, these ornaments showcase the artistry only our local craftsmen do best. You will also see contemporary renditions of the traditional candle lamps rendered in multi-colored glass. They would be perfect as banquet table centerpieces and decors for outdoor garden parties.
I suppose it’s fortunate that we have kept our local Yuletide traditions year after year. As the brilliant colored lights and lanterns glow in the evenings, they remind us of how unique Christmas is celebrated in this country. And if only for a brief time every year, a city bathed in Christmas lights is one we can all look forward to for many decades to come.