By Blessie Adlaon
Wherever he is in the world, the Filipino will always carry a little of the Philippines in his heart. Even if he has already assimilated his adopted country’s ways, developed a taste for its food or learned to speak like its locals, some fragment of his soul will remain rooted in his homeland.
That fragment will always call him back and compel him to turn his eyes homeward—and often, that yearning grows strongest during the weeks and days approaching Christmas time.
THE LONGEST CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION
We Filipinos proudly say that our celebration is the longest and merriest in the world. As early as September, some stores and households start playing Christmas songs and dusting off and hanging Christmas deco- rations. And this goes on until the first week of January, on the Feast of the Three Kings.
While the modern Pinoy has happily adopted snow- men, Santa Claus, reindeer, tinsel, poinsettias, wreaths, colored balls, and Christmas trees to com- plete his picture of the holiday, two traditional adornments remain and stand out as truly Filipino: the belen (nativity scene) and the parol (Christmas lantern), said to symbolize the star of Bethlehem, which guided the three wise men to the baby Jesus’ manger.
In the olden days, the parol was fashioned out of bamboo sticks, cellophane and papel de Hapon and lit with a candle or kalburo lamp.
Modern innovation has turned this simple lantern into a kaleidoscopic spectacle of dancing electric lights, glass, capiz shells, fiber glass, or plastic, with designs no longer being limited to the five-pointed star. And to celebrate the parol, the city of San Fernando in Pampanga holds every December the Ligligan Parul—the colorful Giant Lantern Festival, with gigantic parols lighting up the cold night sky with their brilliant dancing lights!
SEASON OF SONG AND MUSIC
Christmas in the Philippines is not just full of lights; it is full of song as well. We all remember going caroling in our childhood, singing the same Christmas songs again and again from one house to another, hoping for a peso from the owner of the house.
Whom of us does not fondly recall childhood memories of fashioning musical instruments out of empty cans, tansan, wire, and plastic containers? We made the rounds of the neighborhood, and roused Aling Ising, Mang Kanor, and their nasty dogs with off-key renditions of Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (and that other reindeer, Olop: “Olop, the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names . . .”)
If Aling Ising came bearing coins, candy, and other small tokens, one belted out “Tenkyu, tenkyu, ang babait ninyo, tenkyu!” But Aling Ising had better be fast and come out before the singers get tired of singing, or she’d be mocked instead with an ironic “Tenkyu, tenkyu, ang babarat ninyo! Tenkyu!”
Civic and religious organizations, some decked out in costumes and armed with dance numbers they had been rehearsing for the past two weeks, also use caroling as an opportunity to raise funds.
OH, HOLY NIGHT
Of course, the most well-known and well-loved Pinoy Christmas tradition is the Simbang Gabi.
It is believed that this practice of celebrating Mass at dawn was begun for the benefit of the farmers, who needed to be at the fields at dawn during harvest time.
The Simbang Gabi is a series of dawn masses that begin on December 16 and culminate on Christmas Eve. Popular lore says that if one completes the nine days of masses, one’s wish will be granted.
As tradition dictates, church bells start ringing at three in the morning to summon the faithful. In some places, bands are even hired to play a medley of Christmas tunes to rouse the town.
After the service, the worshippers stop by stalls near the church to refresh themselves with various Filipino delicacies: piping hot, violet-tinted puto bumbong spread with butter and sprinkled with grated coconut and brown sugar; sugary bibingka crowned with slices of salted egg and dripping butter; spicy salabat and steaming thick tsokolate.
After the mass, it is time to say hello to friends and neighbors who are also at the stalls, buying these delicious food to bring home to sleepyhead housemates, for nine days of festive breakfast!
And on the ninth day of this novena mass, on Christmas Eve, panunuluyan is observed to commemorate Mary and Joseph’s search for lodgings.
Statues of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are brought out of the church accompanied by two singers. The procession stops at three or four homes, and the singers vocalize requests to be allowed to stay the night. Choir members act as the innkeepers who had turned away the couple.
Eventually, the pair is returned to the church for the Nativity.
At the end of nine nights of caroling and early mornings of mass and prayer comes the climax of the Christmas celebration: the post-mass celebration of Christmas eve and the traditional Noche Buena.
On this most festive of nights, the whole family gathers around the dinner table laden with sumptuous food such as lechon, pancit, spaghetti, adobo, embutido, relleno, fried chicken, inihaw na isda, kare-kare, barbecue, arroz valenciana, macaroni salad, fruit salad, puto, bibingka, leche flan, softdrinks, beer, and wine.
For this special night, even married children gather at their parents’ home, meeting brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grand- children, in a night full of laughter, affection, and food!
During Noche Buena, we have the exchanging of gifts, lighting of fireworks, parlor games, singing and dancing.
The next day, the family attends Christmas mass. Then the children pay a visit to their godparents, grandparents, and elderly relatives. After greeting their elders most respectfully through pagmamano, they receive their aguinaldo. It’s also common nowadays for children to knock on neighbors’ doors and ask for pamasko.
Some families cap the day with further partying; others go to the mall for dinner and a movie.
Christmas season in the Philippines officially ends on the Feast of the Three Kings which falls on January 6.
For the Filipino away from the Philippines, these Christmas traditions may continue to beckon the faraway sons and daughters to revisit the land and share in its unique form of celebration.
Some who cannot return for one reason or another may still keep the traditions alive, using the Filipino ingenuity and adaptability that we take so much pride in.
He goes to Christmas mass even if he can barely move because of the six layers of clothing he had to put on to keep warm.
He might make a snow angel and recall the time his best friend Bhogs punched him on the chin when they were kids after he pinched P10 off the collection can from their caroling because—well, he thought he had the best voice in the group.
The scent of pine trees might remind him of how putting up and decorating the Christmas tree was a cherished family tradition.
She might cobble together a Noche Buena with substitute ingredients: the lechon could be replaced by Weiner schnitzel or chicken tandoori. Friends can gather together and still sing Christmas carols. “Pasko nanaman, o kay tulin ng araw!” And wherever the Filipino is, he or she can always craft and hang a parol.
Of course, the best version of a Pinoy Christmas is the one celebrated in one’s own country, but if that can’t be, the Filipino will still find ways to celebrate it with the music and color and laughter innate in the Filipino soul.
Nestled right at the gateway of Manila is a bright welcome greeting to balikbayans and tourists – the Philippines’ ultimate entertainment complex. Resorts World Manila (RWM) boasts the finest escape that one can get from the city – without giving up the glitz of a cosmopolitan life. Think Vegas. Think Macau. But this time, add on the world renowned Filipino talent and service as the major ingredient. Truly – this is the best that one can get in Manila; and the best place to enjoy the Holidays! Read on to find out why .
Just a couple of weeks ago, RWM officially opened its doors to VIPs, tourists and the Filipino public with GRAND FIESTA MANILA 2010 – an awe-inspiring 4-day festival! Its Christmas lights were unveiled around the grounds, where a giant concert stage was set up to house 3 successive concert nights – the best Pinoy rock bands (UrbanDub, Pedicab, Sandwich and Franco), the international Pinoy icon and Journey lead vocalist Arnel Pineda with his original band Ammo, and the timeless Earth, Wind and Fire Experience with the Al Mackay All-Stars. Just a few steps away from the concert grounds is an intimate park where passers-by were treated to on-the-spot performances from the U.P. Street Dance Club, the world-class singers, dancers and acrobats of RWM and the heartpounding percussions of Buganda together with the Higantes. All this culminated in a 500-person Grand Parade that included the Kalilayan Folkloric Group’s exquisite dances from festivals all over the country.
Resorts World Manila is home to 3 hotels, namely the 342-room Marriott Hotel Manila, Maxim’s – the first all-suite 6-star hotel in the country, and Remington Hotel – a budget airport hotel currently under construction.
During the festival, the Marriott Hotel hosted a gala dinner with none other than Lea Salonga accompanied by Gerard Salonga and the Filharmonika orchestra as entertainment. Maxims welcomed its guests via an Art Festival that featured top Filipino artists in an exhibit and a collaborative mural painting activity. VIPs were likewise treated to dinner exclusively prepared by celebrity chef Jackie Yu in its now much-sought after Chinese restaurant, Passion.
THE PLACE TO PLAY
Resorts World Manila also features the Philippines’ largest casino to date, where one can win luxury cars just through its slot machines, eat sumptuous P88 meals, unwind with free all-night, international entertainment at Bar 360 in the heart of the expansive gaming floor or, for the serious player – venture up to its multi-level offerings including the very exclusive Genting Club – a sports bar with a full ballroom dancing floor and ultra-private gaming rooms.
As part of the Grand Fiesta, RWM’s VIP guests were treated to exclusive entertainment at the Genting Club by Earth, Wind and Fire and the Al Mackay All-stars; and Pintadas – a very intimate body paint fashion show by the country’s top fashion designers –Rajo Laurel, Rhett Eala, Randy Ortiz and Tweety de Leon, directed by Philippine fashion icon, Jackie Aquino.
Of course, no world-class tourist desti- nation would be complete without a high-end shopping mall that features the world’s top brands. Stroll down the posh hallways of Newport Mall and you will find Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Salvatorre Ferra- gamo, DKNY and Kate Spade, among others. Get your Christmas shopping done while enjoying RWM’s exciting features!
Great dining opportunities are also available to provide a gastronomic treat to Pinoys and tourists. Passion in Maxim’s is almost always full and requires reservations days, if not weeks in advance (for weekend diners). Those who want to try out other cuisines in Maxim’s can relish exquisite Japanese-Korean dishes from Ginzadon, or enjoy yummy treats in the heart of gaming at Mercado for Filipino food and Noodleworks for casual Asian dining.
Marriott Hotel Manila also offers a sumptuous buffet spread in its coffee shop; and melt-in-your-mouth steaks in its posh outlet – Cru.
Newport Mall houses some of the country’s finest restaurants including Red Crab, New Orleans, Mr. Kurosawa, UCC Café, Johnny Chow and the newly opened Opus by famed Chef Carlo Miguel. All these are located around the awesome Newport Plaza with edge to edge skylight roofing dotted with mesmerizing color-changing lights as you look out to the evening stars. For the Christmas season, love this Plaza’s giant white Christmas tree that simply glitters!
Craving for some night owl action? Saunter into Republiq – a 10,000 square foot club that is the newest place to be seen in for the country’s trendiest set!
There’s something in RWM for all your Christmas company this season – bring your family, colleagues, friends and more!
And one of the most amazing features of Resorts World Manila to date is a world-class Vegas-style theatre called the Newport Performing Arts Theater. Equipped with the latest in audio-video technology, this 1500-seat entertainment haven is the first in the Philippines.
Today, the grandeur of this theatre is best experienced through the original RWM production KAOS – with spectacles never before seen in the Philippines. International talent is mixed with raw and harnessed Filipino brilliance and white lions and tigers plus an incredible Dome of Death act in a 90-minute Vegas – Broadway show. You’ve got to see it to believe it!
What’s more difficult to believe is that all this is just the beginning of Resorts World’s offerings in the Philippines. The country will have to brace itself for the new things to come from this amazing entertainment brand.
Resorts World Manila is owned and operated by Travellers International – a company formed by the world’s top gaming magnate, Genting (Hong Kong) and the country’s premier real estate company, Megaworld.
You know it’s Christmas season here in the country once the malls start playing nostalgic Christmas carols that bring you back to your childhood days. The other thing I look forward to that remind me of the warm feelings of Christmas is when vendors start selling bright, colorful parols near our house. In contrast to the west’s Christmas tree, which is just actually a tree that you still have to decorate, the parol is a symbol in itself, and its meaning is not lost despite its simplicity. And unlike the Christmas tree, which begs the question of what its connection to Christmas, every Christian and Filipino knows the significance of the star that guided the Three Wise Men towards the manger where Christ was born.
The Filipino parol comes from the Spanish word parol which means lantern or lamp. Many historians believe that those who built the piñata, the Italians, gave the Spaniards the inspiration and the craft of making the parol, and this was passed on to Mexico and eventually to us.
Back in the day, the parol was not used as a Christmas decoration. The parol’s original purpose was to light the way for mass goers waking up in the wee hours of the morning to attend the dawn mass called Missa de Aguinaldo which starts December 16. The traditional parol is based on the 5-pointed star lantern that is made with bamboo sticks and colored rice paper, more commonly called papel de Japon (or more popularly called Japanese paper). The sizes of the earliest parols during the Spanish times were no more than two feet in diameter, and for a good reason: big parols would have been too cumbersome for those walking on the dark streets to attend simbang gabi. In the middle of the parol, there would be a platform where one could place a candle or two, and at least two sides were left open for lighting or replacing the candle or coconut-oil lamp that illuminates the parol.
Today, the parol can be anywhere between very simple to very colorful and bright. There are different kinds of parols, and different shapes too – some of them veering away from the traditional star-shaped design. For parol fanatics among you, head to San Fernando, Pampanga, on the Saturday before Christmas Eve and catch the Giant Lantern Festival held every year.
Every Filipino family should be given the chance to make their own parols. It would be a nice bonding activity for the whole family, not to mention that the materials can be very cheap – there are even people who make parols using recycled materials!
Here’s a step by step process of making your own parol:
1. Be ready with your materials. You will need:
- 10 18-inch pieces of bamboo sticks
- 5 4-inch pieces of bamboo pegs
- 5 rubber bands
- 10 twist ties
- Glue gun with glue sticks
- A pair of scissors
- 22 8-by-8 square pieces of colored cellophane or papel de japón (tissue paper)
- Cut-out paper tassels and tinsel garland
- Cut-out doilies and frills and extra papel de japón for the optional ornaments — tails, frills and hoop.
2. Making the frame
Make four “V” shapes by taking two 18” bamboo sticks and connecting two ends with a rubber band, making sure that the smooth side of the bamboo is facing out. Make two flat stars and make the two Vs and “weave” them together. Each bamboo stick should alternate crossing over or under another. Take the individual bamboo stick and weave through the top, alternating under and over. Repeat for second star frame. Make two stars into one, making sure to adjust the pieces in order to have an even-shaped star. An optional step is to tie the five inside corners of each star with twist ties. Face the two stars together, smooth side facing out, and connect each point of the star with a rubber band. Insert a 4” peg at each of the inside points of the star, continue to insert all five pegs, apply hot glue to secure, place a handle, using a fishing rod or string, on the topmost point of the parol.
3. Dressing the Parol Frame
Paste the paper (use cellophane and/or papel de japón on 22 panes of the frame). Put paste to the bamboo (tip: start on the sides, then back and front. Make the front center piece the last.)
4. Ornamenting the parol
You can decorate your parol with lovely ornaments such as patterns, doilies, garlands or paper cut-outs. Frills and tassels are elements of traditional five-point-star parols. Others put tinsel on the five-point corners of the parol instead of frills on the hoop around the star and tassels. This is the fun part of making the parol because it entails more of your creativity now.
5. Making the Tails
Take two square sheet of papel de japón. Fold into a triangle, then twice more to make a smaller triangle. Take the top point of the triangle with the fold on right side; fold over to the base of the triangle. Start cutting the edges of the folded triangle, starting one inch from the tip of the point of the triangle; cut from one side towards the other side; be sure to leave a space of about a half centimeter to the other edge. Turn over the triangle and continue cutting the edges in an alternate manner until you reach the lower part of the triangle, leaving an inch to the wide end of the triangle. Unfold and separate the tails, and insert a wire in the middle of the round cardboard to tie it to two corners of the finished parol.
Asia’s songbird Regine Velasquez bids a tear-filled but hopeful goodbye to her show Sunday noontime show Party Pilipinas and other showbiz projects, but only for the time being as she prepares for her wedding with co-host and long-time showbiz colleague Ogie Alcasid, which will take place on December 22.
On her last day at the said noontime show on December 12, co-hosts and other GMA stars gave Regine a tribute during the show that made the singer-actress very emotional. But as she stepped up onstage to receive her tribute, she made initially moment lighter with a humorous remark: “Hindi ako magpapaalam, mag-aasawa lang ako!”
During the tribute segment of the show, Regine sang one of her songs in her new album Fantasy under Universal Records, entitled “Ok Lang Ako.” Right after the song number, the singer was conferred the Gold Record Award onstage. In less than a month’s time after the album was released, sales in all stores surged to high numbers, according to Universal Records head Kathleen Dy, which merited Regine her Gold award.
In her thank-you speech, Regine said she realized that Fantasy is her last album as “Regine Velasquez,” for next year she will officially become “Mrs. Ogie Alcasid.”
By Chino Jose
Have we Filipinos truly lost the true spirit of Christmas? Let Fr. James B. Reuter refresh your perspective with his wisdom & spirituality just in time for the holidays.
In the early ‘90s when I was a kid, I remember those times I changed channels and stumbled upon Family Rosary Crusade on Channel 2. On the tube was an aged American priest garbed in white, sharing the words of the gospel and imparting the importance of praying the Holy Rosary. His presence was remarkable; with a charisma that transcends the boundaries of television, a mesmerizing voice emanating from the speakers that act as a vessel of the Lord’s words. You can’t help but tune in and listen to what this man was preaching.
And this man is none other than Reverend Father James B. Reuter, academician, theater writer, director, producer and honorary Filipino citizen in the Philippines whose ministry work spans all media: theater, radio, print and film. He has received a lot of awards and recognition for his promotion of the Catholic Church in mass media, including an award personally given to him by Pope John Paul II. He has accomplished a lot in his time here, a life filled with colorful tales and a vocation that has left an indelible imprint on the many lives he has touched. And at the ripe age of 94, he continues his good work in the country he has lived in for more than half of his life.
This Christmas season, he reminds us of its true essence in this one-on-one conversation on his most beloved celebration.
T3: We know that at 94 years of age, you have spent majority of your years – or more than half of your life – here in the Philippines. Please tell us, how has it been like living in the Philippines? Like, how different were the earlier years compared to today?
FR: There’s no difference. The people are exactly the same. They haven’t changed. The only difference is that there’s a bit of a sweeping attack on the values of the East by the West. Filipinos now are subjected to TV, the radio, the screen. And I think all of them are dumb because they think the things that will only sell are sex and violence. So what they do is feed them with sex and violence and they get away with it.
The sex and violence comes from the West. Sex was always sacred in the East, and violence was never part of the Eastern way of living. It was always gentleness, it was always “love thy neighbor.” The Filipinos were closer to God naturally than the West. The West was already overwhelmed by the violence and the sex that was popular.
T3: What do you think are key characteristic traits of the Pinoy culture in general?
FR: “Love thy neighbor.” It’s from the gospel. The Filipinos are prone to reach out to each other and share with each other. Not only to share the food, which they will always do. You can’t go past any meal, even the poor people, without them saying: “Shall we eat?” and then sharing whatever they have. The Filipinos are a friendly and giving nation; a nation that reaches out to people — what they give is their own heart and their own soul. That’s why everybody is amazed by the smile of the Filipino because it is a portrait of the heart. When they smile, they’re giving themselves.
I’ll share a story with you that proves my point. Many years ago, my blood sister and I were going under the bridge that I was showing her. She was scared to death because there was no light, no air and it was all mucky. Then we got to this little shack that was about two meters long and a meter and a half wide. At the door of it was a little boy, about five years old, sitting down — the poor little kid. And as she went by he looked up at her with a smile, took her hand and pressed it against his forehead. She cried the next few hours because to her it was such a beautiful thing. And that’s the way the Filipino is.
The Filipino also has the grace of being close to the Virgin Mary. They’re the only nation that calls her Mama Mary. If you love anybody, you love your mother and if you’re mother loves anybody, she loves you. It’s that sense of love between the Filipino and the Virgin Mary and therefore, between the Filipino and Christ our Lord.
T3: What can you say about the Christmas traditions here in the Philippines, then and now? Please point out some of those that stand out.
FR: The biggest one that stands out that has not changed — it’s the star. In the Philippines you have the star in every town and in every home. And the star is the symbol of the birth of Christ, the star over the little town of Bethlehem, the star over the stable where our Lord was born.
T3: Please tell us about your most memorable Christmas spent here in the Philippines. What was it like? What made it most endearing?
FR: The most memorable Christmas I had was in the prison camp under the Japanese at Christmas time. I was coming down the road in a central street in Los Baños, A little girl came and passed by me and she had a string tied to a paper basket with a baby doll in it. And she was playing with the doll in the paper basket. And it all happened inside a prison camp. I felt that was the spirit of Christmas and it’s the one Christmas that I’ll never forget.
T3: Do you think Filipinos in general celebrate Christmas with the right perspective – focusing on the true meaning and essence of Christmas that is Christ-centered? Why or why not?
FR: I think they do in general. The ones that don’t are the ones captured by the earthly values of the West that have drifted away from the true spirit of Christmas in the Philippines.
T3: How do you think has Philippine media affected people’s views about Christmas today? Do you think it still plays a crucial role in shaping the practices of Pinoys come Christmas time? Why or why not?
FR: The Philippine media is closer to God than the West in many ways. But they are captured by the Western attack. What the West believes is that the only news is bad news. The only news is murder, thefts, corruption, etc. The Philippines has kind of accepted the Western idea that it has to be something sensational and bad to make the headlines. They don’t want the headlines to be about anything good. You can have nine hundred and ninety nine husbands who are faithful to their wives then get one husband who kills his wife with an ax and it will get the headlines for sure. They’re going to skip the other nine hundred and ninety nine and pick that one man who murdered his wife. Because it’s sensational, that’s all. They’ve taken that crazy idea from the West that it has to be bad news to make the headlines which isn’t true. You should be able to make the headlines with good news.
T3: What is your message to Filipinos in the country and those abroad this Christmas?
FR: My Christmas message to everyone comes from a beautiful poem written by the greatest writer the Philippines has ever seen, Horacio V. Dela Costa. He was a brilliant man and his genius was that he could express the heart of the people in the simplest language that everyone can understand. He understood the heart of the Filipino. And here is that lovely poem that will touch your heart:
Juan dela Cruz Hangs Up A Paper Star
by Horacio Dela Costa
I do not think the Three Wise Men
were Persian Kings at all.
I think it’s much more likely they set sail
from out Manila Bay in answer to the call.
And though the great historians
may stare at me and frown,
I still maintain the Three Wise Men
were kings of my hometown.
And if you ask why I affirm
that Melchor was King of Tondo
when Gaspar ruled Sampaloc
and Baltazar, Binondo.
We will not argue
We will walk the streets on Christmas eve
and I will show you the poor man’s rafter
where hangs the star the Kings sought after.
High above Christian prayer and laughter
you will see it and believe.
For when they crossed the sea again from Bethlehem afar,
they lost their camels in the sea
and they forgot the Christmas tree.
But they brought back to you and me
the secret of the star.
Oh, we have lost the sign of the Kings
to whom Christmas is merely a feast.
And only a time to dance and dine
with Western music and Western wine
because a gigantic neon sign
has blotted the star in the East.
And that says it all, encapsulating everything Fr. Reuter has talked about. Meeting Fr. Reuter has got me mesmerized all over again. Decades removed from stumbling onto Family Rosary Crusade and he still draws me in. He speaks truth and I believe him. The influence of the West on our culture has been large and there’s no denying its effect even during Christmas. Most only see it as a feast, only a celebration of the material things in this world. We often overlook its true meaning: it’s a celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. There’s no wrong in having fun in during the Holidays, let’s just not forget the real reason why we celebrate Christmas.
If you ever forget, there’s always a parol to remind yourself that hope always shines bright for us. Even in trying times, Pinoys always find a way to laugh and be merry. Just like Fr. James B. Reuter’s hope & love for the Filipino people. Even after all these years, it has never faded even one bit. He believes in us both as a people and as a nation just like the Three Wise Men that chased that star — a shining star flickering in the heavens that symbolizes hope for all as it signaled the birth of our Savior.
We wanted to make our own list, really, but felt that local showbiz mag YES! really captures it all, so we’re bringing it to you right here with our own views to boot:
• The Fall and Rise of Willie Revillame – what can we say? We’ve had the guy on Chikarambola feature at least twice this year, and he’s the household name you’d either love or love to forget. Good call!
• Jinkee Knocks Out Krista, Wins Back The Pambansang Kamao – is it just me or does this get the top 2 slot only because of Manny’s world boxing glory? Not really a top story for us, but good enough to make it to this list.
• Kris & James Call It Quits – the pambansang papansin as most any Pinoy would call her has surely made sure 2010 is her year, in sickness and in health, ‘til her marriage falls apart.
• Claudine, Angelica, Gretchen: Sex, Lies & Sisterhood – Gretchen got tired picking on sister Caludine and turned to Angelica Panganiban for an added “bratinella” factor – this couldn’t be why she calls 2010 her “best year ever,” now could it?
• Kim & Gerald: The Breakdown Of A Love Team – the story that made fans raging mad and hurling death threats a-la Hollywood stalker movie. I’d say this should’ve taken the top 4 slot!
• Robin & Mariel Got Married…Or Did They? – we refuse to add star value to this pathetic multiple-wedding scene stealer of a story.
• Marian & Bela Go To The Bathroom – this is obviously 1) more a low-light than a highlight, and 2) desperate.
• PNoy & Shalani Break Up – Clearly a big one, though we have to say, something that shouldn’t really be a country’s focus on the President of the republic.
• Charice Lands ‘Glee,’ Gets Botoxed – come on, a Pinay made it to a Hollywood series (and gets botoxed while at it) – definitely deserves a bigger story than Marian Rivera’s bathroom brouhaha!
It’s not only the holiday season for the showbiz world as we all know, but also Manila Film Festival season (see related story on page 11)! And this time around, Philippine film viewers better brace themselves for a one-of-a-kind treat with Ambient Media and Star Cinema’s RPG Metanoia – the first-ever full-length 3D animation film that is 100% Pinoy-made.
On its cinema premiere on December 12, big-name stars and showbiz executives flocked Cinema 3 at SM Megamall to show support for the breakthrough film that was five years in the making. Lea Salonga, not part of the film project but was there mainly to support her husband Robert Chien (one of the film’s executive producers), was seen cheerily joining photo opps with other celebrities. ABS-CBN Chairman and CEO Eugenio Gabby Lopez, ABS-CBN President Charo Santos-Concio and Star Cinema head Malou Santos, also took the time to watch the film that Sunday afternoon – film screening was scheduled at 3pm to make the rated GP, Cinema Evaluation Board graded A feature even more kid-friendly.
Also present were some of the stars that voiced RPG Metanoia’s main characters who were seen dressed up like their characters in the movie: Zaijian Jaranilla carried around a yoyo just like Nico, the lead character of RPG that he voiced over. Eugene Domingo, who voiced the mother of Zaijian’s character was also there with the other cast members Aaron Junatas, Basty Alcances, Jairus Aquino, Mika dela Cruz, Ketchup Eusebio and Igiboy Flores.
It was too bad that Aga Muhlach, also one of the film’s main voices, and Vhong Navarro, could not make it to the event. But viewers of the premiere were unanimously convinced that finally, here was a Pinoy movie that could be on a par with foreign animated films. Lea Salonga commented, “I was completely absorbed into the story and the film… It can definitely compete outside of this country and I’m hoping that audiences outside the Philippines will get to see RPG.”
Banchetto literally means “a feast” in Italian and it is just what this weekly event offers. It was launched in 2007 to serve a wide growing clientele of call center agents and BPO employees in the Ortigas area. This genius concept continued until this day and it has expanded its market from the segment of “nocturnal” workers to the general group of foodies.
And this holiday season, the need to feast gets even more prevalent. It becomes essential to get together with friends, officemates, and loved ones and just bask in amazing conversations. And in enjoying good food, who needs chairs and tables when you can just sit on the sidewalk or nearby stairways? You can even take out the food to the comforts of the office pantry or your own dining room.
The mass of people invading Banchetto adds to the excitement of the experience. One look at the huge crowd immediately proves the viability of the business opportunity and the expansion of this venture also proves that there is indeed a growing market. From its original location in Emerald Avenue, it has developed two more sites in Robinson’s Forum and Shopwise Parking Area in Libis.
Be different and delicious
One of the reasons why people continue to flock Banchetto is that the food is completely awesome. There seems to be an unspoken rule in its vendors that the product they would sell must not be just good, but great.
So in considering something to sell in this tough competing market, it is best to think of something different to offer.
The moment I stepped into the Banchetto area, the first thing I heard was “Nakita mo yung malaking burger?” And once I saw that stall located right at the entrance, I would like to reply, “Human eyes are not capable to overlook those burgers.” The one-pound burger patties were so hard to miss especially with its inviting aroma that’s coming right out of the grill. And believe it or not, those monstrous burgers have been selling like pancakes since 2007.
But more than the appetizing shock factor, it is the mouthwatering goodness of these tasty treats that keeps people from going back to the stalls. A good friend of mine, when asked about Banchetto replied: “I just go there for the Takoyaki.” And seemingly, the stall selling these Japanese balls have been making good money in Banchetto for years.
Almost anything you fancy can be found in Banchetto—even Vigan longanissa on sticks. From Italian pasta, to turo-turo style food cooked right in from of you, isaw, barbeque, German sausages and those affordable delectable desserts are available on the walk-through menu.
And since it’s the holidays, the good ol’ Filipino favorites bibingka and puto bumbong are two of the big stars in Banchetto. Though these are being offered all-year long to bring the Christmas spirit to one’s taste buds any month of the year, bringing one home as pasalubong is perfect during this season.
Even if you have poured all your love and cooking prowess in your products, remember also to sell it at an affordable price. One hundred pesos can really make a customer feel happy and satisfied. Bibingka is worth P60 each and a wide assortment of ready-to-go desserts (which include chocolate cakes and cheesecakes) are sold 3 for P100.
Even mainstream players have entered the street fiesta scene such as Sbarro and Dulcinea. And with the small capital that you need to risk in this very stable market, there is indeed a big opportunity that cannot be missed.
How to join the Banchetto bandwagon
Small-scale entrepreneurs definitely have a place in this weekly food fiesta. Here’s a quick look of the things to be paid.
There are three options for food stalls—Prime, Super Prime, and Premium. The words used in describing the stalls exude a win-win situation already. Prime (P1,450/stall/day) refers to those which have one-side opening, Super Prime (P1,550/stall/day) refers to two-sides opening, the other one facing the sidewalk, and Premium (P1,950/stall/day) refers to the ones easiest to see—from Yellow Cab to Ortigas Center Post Office.
A joining fee which covers you for eight Saturdays is needed and are priced according to the type of stall chosen: Prime (P2,500/stall), Super Prime (P3,000/stall), and Premium (P4,000.00/stall). And of course, the government needs its share of the fees so a very minimal amount of P50.00/stall is charged for the Barangay Permit. It is also required to pay a one day deposit and one-day advanced; so to sum up the needed capital for a spot in Banchetto, the following fees apply:
Prime – P1,450 + P1,450 + P50 + P2,500 = P5,450/stall
Super Prime – P1,550 + P1,550 + P50 + P3,000 = P6,150/stall
Premium – P1,950 + P1,950 + P50 + P4,000 = P7,950/stall
The Banchetto craze has also invaded the Robinson’s Forum but it only has one type of stall and the initial cash outlay is as follows:
P1,250 + 1,250 + P3,000 (joining fee for 4 weeks) = P5,500.00/stall
And for its newest site addition located at the Shopwise Libis open parking area, where many nearby buildings are filled with “nocturnal” employees, the prices are as follows.
Prime (one-side open) – P1,150 + P1,150 + P2,000 (joining fee for 8 Saturdays) = P4,300/stall
Super Prime (two-sides open) – P1,350 + P1,350 + P2,500 (joining fee for 8 Saturdays) = P5,200/stall
Premium (Fronting E.Rodriguez Ave.) – P1,550 + P1,550 + P3,500 (joining fee for 8 Saturdays) = P6,600/stall
The food items to be sold are upon the approval of its management and to ensure the safety of the products, proper sanitation is required. Terms and Conditions and application forms are available onsite and online. Simply visit banchetto.multiply.com.
The popularity of food items is easily spread among the dynamic young market of Banchetto, and with the small location capital required, this may be a good start for a food business that has been running through your mind. All you need to do is to solidify the product, concept, and decorate your booth for total presentation. You may be on your way into making a small-scale business into something big.
Many of us have gotten into the habit of going to the movies on Christmas day, thanks to the yearly Metro Manila Film Festival. Every year Filipino movie-goers and avid fans flock movie houses, theaters, and cinemas to watch a movie, something I myself have done several times the past few years. The queue and the wait is long, the theater is packed, but that won’t stop Filipinos from watching the movie they want!
The MMFF kicks off every Christmas day on December 25 with the parade of floats. Each movie has their own float and traverses Roxas Boulevard. Fans wait for hours for a chance to see and perhaps shake hands with their favorite stars. Each movie entry for the MMFF has a float and the actors ride the float of their respective movies.
One thing very positive about the MMFF is that no foreign movies are shown during the festival, which runs starting December 25 and ends on the first week of January. This means that the movies made by our talented filmmakers’ will not compete against big-budget Hollywood films. Of course these filmmakers and producers still have to compete amongst themselves, but it is not uncommon for people to watch several films during the festival. Read more
Story by Joan Lopez-Flores
Jon and I stood there locked in an embrace for we didn’t know how long, right before the Manhattan Public High School in New York, where I worked. For the first time in my life, I didn’t care what people thought or said. Kahit na nakita kong nasa likod ko lang ang mga estudyante ko, giggling and probably saying things about me as they looked, wala akong pakialam.
Maybe it was the chilly December breeze that wanted me to stay warm and safe in Jon’s arms and never let go, or maybe it was the plain yearning for so long to be held and loved. We never said anything but somehow we knew, it was alright. Read more