Holiday spirit in the plaza

Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao

AS many of our cities get “concretized” with all the developments added into them, the value for “breathing spaces” becomes even more relevant. Public open spaces like plazas, for instance, are integral parts of old cities and town planning, which can (thankfully) still be experienced by their residents. These urban spots are often considered as a refreshing respite especially after being confined within the four walls of classrooms and work spaces.

While the Christmas season is evident in malls and commercial establishments, it usually makes its outdoors-y presence in public spaces like streets, parks and plazas. In Mandaue City, Cebu the Yuletide vibes came earlier as the plaza fronting the city hall displayed its holiday glow at the start of the Christmas month.

Being a favorite hangout for students after school and for some residents coming from their work places nearby, the Mandaue plaza bustles even more with the yearly “Pasko sa Mandaue” showcase of lights, which kicked off last Dec. 4. Among the highlights this year is the giant Christmas tree and the belen (Nativity scene) just beside the Mandaue Presidencia.

The plaza becomes a more interesting place to hang out at as a humongous Christmas ball and gift await visitors for their much-sought-after selfies or groufies. The favorite spot for those Instagrammable snaps seem to be the canopy of lights over the walkway between the parking building and the plaza and “Santa Claus’ House” at the Rizal-Bonifacio stage. It looks like everything “Christmas-y” in the plaza is in their large versions, as if to match the huge relevance of the season. The lights also create a festive backdrop as people troop to the nearby National Shrine of St. Joseph for the Misa De Gallo as well as the Christmas and New Year’s Eve Masses.

To further drum up the coming of Christmas, the city government of Mandaue, through its Tourism Office, lined up a myriad of activities to liven up the plaza. There is the Foodpark, which is open until Dec. 22, offering a variety of delectable food and a places to dine at. Entertaining activities such as a percussion band competition, artistic dance showdown, inter-barangay daygon (caroling) contest and concert will surely draw more people to the plaza. One of the most anticipated activities for the past years but not held this year is the inter-school Christmas Tableau contest. A brainchild of Mandaue City First Lady Sarah Cortes, it is a live re-enactment of the first Christmas by students from various schools in Mandaue. “It will definitely be back next year and much better,” Cortes revealed.

Since Filipinos are known to have the “longest Christmas season,” expect the Christmas sights in the plaza to make it through the early part of January after New Year’s Day. This means more opportunities to drop by and experience the local holiday glow.