Iloilo hosts variety of Christmas attractions

By Perla Lena

December 20, 2019, 3:49 pm

<p><strong>CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD.</strong> Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the attractions in Passi City this Christmas. The local government of Passi City chose the theme “Christmas Around the World” for its festival of lights that runs from Dec. 14, 2019 to Jan. 6, 2020. <em>(PNA photo by Passi City Information Office)</em></p>

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD. Hong Kong Disneyland is one of the attractions in Passi City this Christmas. The local government of Passi City chose the theme “Christmas Around the World” for its festival of lights that runs from Dec. 14, 2019 to Jan. 6, 2020. (PNA photo by Passi City Information Office)

ILOILO CITY -- Celebrating Christmas in Iloilo is more than just the food, the lights, and the decorations that adorn houses, plazas, and other public places.

Christmas celebration in the heart of the Philippines also means traveling to must-see places without breaking the bank, being able to bring back the tradition of “daigon” (caroling), and keeping families together.

In Passi City, a component city of Iloilo province located some 46.49 km. away from Iloilo City, Christmas is a "worldwide" celebration.

Mayor Stephen Palmares said they just thought of a concept that best represents Christmas and will surely bring enjoyment to every family, especially the children.

“I was thinking of a theme and we saw that we can replicate landmarks that we see in various parts of the world,” Palmares said.

He said their “Christmas Around the World” presentation would allow people to experience Christmas in other countries and feel the excitement of being there.

At no cost to the local government, eight most-visited places were mounted in the more or less 3,000-square-meter area of the plaza with the help of the business and private sectors.

“In my governance, I always make sure the private sector is in partnership with the government and of course with the people of Passi City,” Palmares said.

These places included the Taj Mahal of India by the South Balibago Resources, Inc.; Twin Towers of Malaysia, Passi City LGU and department heads; Hong Kong Disneyland by the Passi City Government Employees Association; London Bridge in the United Kingdom by the City Mall; Pyramid of Egypt by the Central Azucarera de San Antonio; Sydney Opera House in Australia by the Department of Education Division in Passi City; Eiffel Tower of Paris by the Passi City College; and the London Eye by the Gaisano Capital.

He added that other people were not fortunate to visit these places.

The attractions officially opened to the public on December 14 and will be there until Jan. 6, 2020.

Lights are on before nighttime until up to 1 a.m. the next morning. The city government has assigned personnel to keep watch of the plaza.

The attractions are open to everyone. The mayor is also extending his invitations to neighboring towns and the nearby province of Capiz to visit their city and experience "Christmas around the world".

“I am inviting everyone to visit Passi City and try what we have to offer,” he added.

A nightly acoustic band also plays in the background as visitors partake of local delicacies made available by more or less 50 kiosks joining the city’s food festival.

In highly urbanized Iloilo City, apart from embellishing all national and city streets and plazas with colorful “parol”, the local government has also embarked on reviving the traditional “daigon” with a twist.

On the evening of December 12, the best chorales in Iloilo City serenaded the people for free in what is dubbed "Daigon sa Plaza" instead of the usual house-to-house caroling.

A musical medley by the Iloilo City National High School Himig Kwerdas and Sinag Awit singers; St. Therese MTC Colleges Handuraw Choir; John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU) - Molo Kinaadman Chorale; and JBLMU-Arevalo Coro Handumanan entertained guests and visitors at the Molo Mansion ground, situated just across the district plaza.

In Jaro plaza, the choir of the Iloilo Baptist Church, Jaro Evangelical Church, and JBLMFU will sing expected hundreds of visitors on the night of December 20.

Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said the free concerts served as a prelude to the plan of the local government to beautify all the plazas. “We create awareness that plazas should be protected. We showcase Ilonggo abilities,” Treñas said.

He said the city government is mulling to have the event institutionalized. “After this year, we will start having performances in other plazas because since then, people always gather in plazas,” he said.

Benito Jimena, city government executive assistant for strategic planning, said the first attempt of reviving the practice of "daigon" was a success. He also underscored the significance of bringing back the tradition.

“Daigon is a traditional way of making people enjoy Christmas. By way of singing, we could see how Ilonggos unite together. Singing is a form of communication; once there is no harmony, then the result is not good,” he said.

He expressed hope that the public would appreciate "daigon" as a “traditional way of greeting people and making people happy.”

On the other hand, first cousins Carl Lawrence Aguirre and Renz Prio, both 11 years old, of Barangay Ungka in Jaro district, started caroling as early as November 16.

After classes at the Sambag Elementary School, the two boys, both in Grade 5, proceeded to the nearby Iloilo Terminal Group Services, Inc. Armed with songs – Namamasko Po and Umagang May Dala, among others – they sing for passengers waiting for their ride home.

For two hours starting at 5 p.m., they earn about PHP200, which they divide equally.

For their tender age, they claim that Christmas means caroling and gifts. (PNA)