Christmas in the City 2015: The Lighted Displays Along Ayala Avenue

Christmas is in the air once again, and the metropolis is all aglow with sparkling lights, dazzling decorations and captivating spectacles that capture the senses. Not to mention the horrible traffic, but that’s another topic altogether.

As such, many of the streets these days are lighted with lanterns and colorful lights in Yuletide designs and colors. The main thoroughfare of the Makati Central Business District is one of those brightly lighted streets this season. However, the Makati CBD is doing things a bit differently this Christmas as motorists and commuters are treated to a different street light spectacle, showcasing the heritage and the (Catholic) faith of the country.

a lighted display representing Bohol’s Baclayon Church, (La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Church) originally completed in 1727 though it sustained major damage during the 2013 earthquake that hit Bohol

representation of the historic Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, where the historic Malolos Congress was held in 1898; the church was completed in 1885

The whole stretch of Ayala Avenue from EDSA to Dela Costa Street is illuminated with light installations which represent some of the country’s historic and culturally significant Catholic churches, namely: the Nuestra Senora de Guia in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati; Minor Basilica of St. Martin de Tours in Taal, Batangas; San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte; Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila; San Luis Obispo Church in Lucban, Quezon; Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan; St. James the Greater Parish in Dapitan City; Quipayo Church in Calabanga, Camarines Sur; St. James the Apostle Church in Paete, Laguna; and La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Church in Baclayon, Bohol.

representation of the Taal Basilica, (Minor Basilica of St. Martin de Tours) considered to be the largest church in the Philippines  and in Asia; completed in 1878
representation of the Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, also known as Binondo Church, originally completed in 1596
representation of Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church located in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati, completed in 1630

Some may feel awkward about having Catholic churches as a choice for Christmas installations, but it just goes to show that, whether we like it or not, the Catholic faith is deeply ingrained as part of the greater scale of Philippine society and how this faith has been a great influence behind a number of Christmas traditions being practiced that is not usual, if not non-existent, in other parts of the world especially those celebrating Christmas as well. The traditions of simbang gabi, the belen, the parol, the ninongs and ninangs, these Filipino Christmas traditions could not have come about without the influence of Catholicism in the country.

representation of San Agustin Church of Paoay, Ilocos Norte – not as old and renowned as Manila’s San Agustin Church but historically and culturally significant in its own right; completed in 1710, the church is a primary example of a unique architectural style called earthquake Baroque architecture
representation of San Luis Obispo (St. Louis the Bishop) Church in Lucban, Quezon, completed in 1738

And even if you are not a Catholic, seeing these lighted displays should make one feel appreciative of the rich cultural heritage our country has to offer. They may not be as indigenous as what other countries have to offer as far architectural heritage, but the elements that helped build these structures are as Filipino as they can be and it reflected the artistry and ingenuity of our forebears in giving these structures a unique identity that is proudly our own.

representation of Quipayo Church in Calabanga, Camarines Sur, completed in 1578 and is one of the oldest churches in Bicol
representation of Paete Church (St. James the Apostle Church) in Laguna, completed in 1884

Come to think of it, it is best to appreciate these structures in person to better understand what I’m talking about. At the very least try to check out the churches at Guadalupe Viejo and Binondo one of these days. (The church in Binondo unfortunately looks “tacky” at this time of writing, but still worth checking out)


If you’re wondering, unfortunately I’ve missed taking a snapshot of the representation of the Dapitan church as I couldn’t seem to find it. Sorry about that.

Acknowledgements as well to Ayalaland

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