Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Department of Tourism Toasts to Philippine's Longest Christmas

Quezon's Niyogyugan Festival.

Filipinos take pride in having the world’s longest, fun-filled and most colorful observance of the Christmas season, which is said to commence with the "ber" months and peaks during the Simbang Gabi. 

This claim to fame comes to life as the Department of Tourism (DOT) lead the first-ever Christmas by Manila Bay on Dec. 15-17 which will put to the fore Filipinos’ warm celebration of the birth of the Christ Child.

A project with the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) and the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST), the festivity is inspired by the famed Tournament of Roses of Pasadena, California which draws thousands of visitors.

The three-day event opens on 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.

According to 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 said 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.

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, and other 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.

Kontra Gapi.

 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.

Vintage cars parade.

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. 

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.

Higantes of Angono, Rizal.

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 the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

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Press Release and Photos contributed by Bernard L. Supetran