AAP, DOT to Open Christmas by Manila Bay Festivities Today

The Philippines takes pride in having the world’s longest, fun-filled and colorful observance of the Christmas season. This claim to fame comes to life once more as the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) lead the first-ever Christmas by Manila Bay on Dec. 15-17 which will showcase the Filipinos’ warm celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

According to AAP president Augusto Lagman, the festival will put to the fore the Filipino’s trademark resiliency and indomitable spirit despite the adversities they face daily.

“There’s nothing like the Yuletide season to showcase this abundance of natural riches and share our renowned Filipino values of heartfelt hospitality, genuine friendliness and extraordinary generosity,” he said.

“As the National Auto Club, not only do we champion the interest of the motoring public and advocate for road safety but we also promote the diverse culture and rich beauty of our country through the numerous caravan tours we’ve organized yearly,” he added.

A joint undertaking with the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) headed by AAP director and former tourism secretary Mina Gabor, the festivity is inspired by the famed Tournament of Roses of Pasadena, California which draws thousands of visitors.

The three-day event opens this Dec. 15 with the Christmas Market by the Fort in Fort Santiago, Intramuros which will showcase the refurbished historical shrine.

The Market is a bazaar showcasing native Pinoy delicacies, novelty items and crafts, useful daily items and Christmas goodies where visitors can buy to be part in the grand drive to raise 60,000 gifts.

Tourism Secretary Corazon Wanda Teo said the festival will put to the fore the Filipino’s trademark resiliency and indomitable spirit despite the adversities they face.

She added that the event will show to the world that it is still more fun to visit the Philippines, despite the negative perceptions it has been receiving in recent months.

Banda Kawayan Pilipinas, the country’s top bamboo orchestra based at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, will serenade the crowd with well-loved Filipino carols.

Other opening day activities include by celebrity performances, revival of indigenous games through the Palarong Pinoy spearheaded by the Province of Quezon, and acoustic night featuring Peter and Vangie up-and-coming musical talents.

The award-winning Kontemporaryong Gamelang Pilipino (Kontra Gapi), directed by Edru Abraham, will liven up the afternoons with their upbeat ethnic-themed music which enjoins audience participation.

On Dec. 16, there will be the Pagkaing Pasko Cooking Exhibition which will showcase the culinary heritage of the Province of Quezon, the Hermana Mayor of the Christmas by Manila Bay, and an evening mass at the Manila Cathedral Basilica to kick-off the traditional nine-day Simbang Gabi.

Highlighting the festival on Dec. 17 is the turnover of the 60,000 gifts by Sec. Wanda Teo to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the children of Marawi City, Yolanda victims, Hospicio de San Jose, and children of soldiers who died in Marawi.

This will be followed by the grand Christmas Parade by the Bay at 5 p.m. from the CCP Complex to the Quirino Grandstand at the Rizal Park. With the kaleidoscopic Manila Bay sunset in the background, the parade will feature vintage and classic cars from Vintage Cars Philippines, and corporate and government-sponsored floats depicting the Pinoy’s Yuletide spirit.

Leading the contingents is the Province of Quezon, the event’s Hermana Mayor which will showcase its rich culture and popular festivals such as the Pahiyas ang Niyogyugan. The province has been one of the venues of the caravans organized by the AAP because of its good road networks and scenic countryside.

Other participants are the Municipality of Angono, Rizal with their famed “Higantes” giant papier maches, the Municipality of Pulilan, Bulacan which is noted for their kneeling carabaos, and the Province of Negros Occidental which will bring their Masskara Festival dancers.

The event draws to a close with a musical concert featuring artists from MCA Universal and a spectacular fireworks display at Fort Santiago.

Christmas by Manila Bay is supported by Petron, Philippine Airlines, Philippine Exporters Confederation, North Luzon Expressway, Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway, MCA Universal, and Allele White, with media partners Business Mirror and Manila Bulletin.

Cooperating agencies are the National Parks Development Committee, Nayong Pilipino Foundation, Intramuros Administration, and theMetropolitan Manila Development Authority.

For details, log on to http://www.christmasbymanilabay.com.ph or follow Christmas by Manila Bay on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Christmas by Manila Bay

(L-R) In photo are former Pinoy Big Brother housemate Dionne Monsanto, Automobile Association Philippines president Gus Lagman, International School of Sustainable Tourism president Mina Gabor, actress Tart Carlos and Christmas by Manila Bay Business Development Director Dodj Mallari.