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.
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.
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.
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.
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