Electrifying Sights in Makati’s Central Business District

Ang Pasko ay sumaaapiiiit!

Do you guys also already hear it in your heads? I don’t know about your experiences, but that’s always been the official closing song of all the Christmas Eve masses I’ve attended for as long as I can remember. That’s right; almost all 12 months of 2015 have rolled by and the holidays have begun to take over our hearts, minds and tummies (but mostly tummies, I bet) once again.

Garterized pants, stay away. Snaps to whoever can keep them at the backs of their closets (not your own personal closets, but the open-for-all tambakan closet in your homes) for as long as possible.

Garterized pants or otherwise, celebrating Christmastime in the metro has finally been made official. This November, Ayala Land electrified us – literally –  with the reveal of this year’s Central Business District’s main attractions: the lighting of ten very impressive, true to life, historical church replicas lined up along Ayala Avenue, Makati Avenue, and Paseo de Roxas and the Ayala Triangle Gardens’ annual Festival of Lights.

Little to no reindeers, Santas or snowmen are to be found along Makati city’s main thoroughfares this year. 2015’s theme weans us off Western influences in our Christmas decor and brings us closer to home. The featured churches were all uniquely constructed, their makers ensuring that each church’s recognizable features were included. The best part, in my opinion, was how they weren’t just flat outlines. There was real effort made to recreate a three-dimensional structure so being able to see through the lines and lights from all angles was a real treat!

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The featured churches are all at least three hundred years old. Some of the oldest are the 414-year old Nuestra Senora de Guia in Guadalupe, Makati, the 443-year old Taal Basilica Church in Batangas, and the 437-year old Quipayo Church in Camarines Sur. They are reminders of the origins of our faith, prompting us to recall the true meaning of this season. This “true meaning” may be defined differently from person to person, that’s true, but you don’t even need to be an avid church-goer to know that this time of the year is all about doing good, being good, meaning it, and keeping it all up for good.

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The mounted parols and strings of capiz adorning the otherwise camouflaged palm trees perfectly compliment the church replicas. All these elements are classic symbols of the Filipino Christmas.

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Ayala Land gets it right by opting for decor that is simple and relatable, familiar and comforting. After making it through another set of devastating storms and the growingly tense elections looming, it’ll be good for Filipinos to see this display, whether in photos or in person, and let their guard down even for just a moment. A Filipino standing next to a fellow Filipino while they both admire what lies before them should think just that – that they’re both Filipinos united by one heritage embodied by these lights and the “true meaning” of this season, regardless of faith, convictions, or whichever way they choose to wear their pants, whether infinitely stretchy or traditionally buttoned and zippered. They’re no different from one another at the end of the day when all they want to do is come home to their loved ones and share the positivity that comes in abundance this time of the year.

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For the forever young at heart (which, really, is all of us, right?), the Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle was Christmas trippiness at its finest. In a world like ours and at times like these, it’s difficult to wow adults that have seen and experienced deeply troubling things. But the lights that evening were real showstoppers and shone right through the otherwise still and dim evening.

The show was composed of three five minute segments, each of which had a different style. One was reminiscent of your quintessential Christmas. Easily recognizable Christmas singles (to be heard in KTV bars across the nation very soon, I anticipate) led the lights’ rhythm. The second segment, my personal favorite, showed me what a club might look like if elves were at the DJ pit. Strobe lights cutting through gaps in the crowd, smoke machines, and multi-colored stars forming in midair to the beat of unconventional arrangements to Christmas melodies was a very fresh approach to this presentation . The last segment, oh my! It could’ve been the soundtrack to New Year’s Eve with escalating beats and whistles to boot. The whole thing should’ve just ended with a fireworks display to complete the evening; that’s how much fun the festival’s style is this year.

So don’t just read about it here, go look (and listen) for yourselves! The lights display plays every 30 minutes from 6pm to 10pm and will run up to the 4th of January. (Hope to get lucky cause you can never tell which segment you’ll catch!)

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Like a reflex, I felt a little pride puff up in my chest when I spotted little groups of tourists here and there having their photos taken or selfie-ing away with all that as a background. To myself, I thought, yup. That’s right, this is what we’re like as Filipinos. I’m sure Christmas is fun too in the parts of the world you come from, but Filipino Christmases are something else. That glow? It isn’t synthetic, that’s not just from the decor. We’re really just extra awesome that way this time of the year.

My Christmas wish is that Filipinos, with the many factions and differing opinions on everything from financial policy to EDSA barricade colors, feel what I felt in that moment. There are bigger things to bicker about. It is a waste of good times and good vibes to even bicker in the first place. Maybe there wouldn’t be much to bicker about if more of us came to that realization.

Anyone second this?

Thought so. (:

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Take a good, long look at that photo you guys.

That right there is pretty legit.

Christmas is a a season, sure, and seasons come and go. Doesn’t mean the Christmas glow and warmth have to go too when we put our trees and stockings away.

What are your Christmas wishes to help send out good into the world?

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Sara de los Reyes and Yuki Tansengco

xxx days before Christmas. Are you up to the challenge of being good, doing good and keeping it up for good?

I am if you are.

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(Written by Sara de los Reyes)

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