Today is September 1, the start of the -ber months. Obviously.
A Pinoy pride, we start celebrating (or prepping for) Christmastime once we flip our calendars to September. Hence, the Philippines is dubbed as the country with the longest holiday season, from September 1 to January 6 (Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day).
In time for this, I list down certain places in Antipolo you can visit to get you into the Christmas spirit.
Christmas attractions in Antipolo
1) Sumulong Park
The plaza, formerly known as ‘Gitna’ (middle) since it strategically located at the center of this bustling city, is a favorite gathering place of Antipoleños. Every year, the local government sets up a giant Christmas tree made from recycled materials right in the middle of Sumulong Park, the plaza’s new name.
For this year, the tree lighting ceremony may fall on November 17. The trees around the area (and actually along the major roads in Antipolo) are all dressed up with LED lights too.
The plaza is on the right side if you are facing the cathedral. It’s really easy to find.
2) Casa Santa
Inside Jardin de Miramar is Casa Santa where you will see thousands of relics of St. Nicholas, about 3,700 of them. The Casa is a great place to educate your kids about Christmas traditions around the world. A real Santa Claus graces the museum on select dates.
There’s a souvenir shop where guests can buy huggable Santa rag dolls, t-shirts, keychains and other holiday-related mementos.
Lucky for us because we can go there whenever we want as it’s just a two-minute of walk away from my mother’s house. An entrance fee of Php180 per person is required, though. Steep, but definitely worth it.
3) FilInvest East
FilInvest East is Antipolo’s answer to Mandaluyong’s Policarpio Street. The Christmas Village features a Santa village, Belen (Nativity) and houses covered with Christmas lights.
The best thing about this is it’s free although you need to line up from the gate. The management implements a no ID, no entrance policy.
I read from a blog that a prior reservation is now required due to the influx of guests inside the subdivision to the annoyance of other residents.
4) Ynares Center
Another local hangout come Christmas season is Ynares Center. I guess it’s safe to say that the opening day is one of the most awaited events by the Antipoleños.
Long before there were malls in the city, there’s Ynares tiangge. Kid-friendly rides are also available, and they are really cheap (between Php5 to Php20). Among the attractions are the Belen and the giant Christmas tree.
Ynares Center usually opens from the first week of September and runs through the first week of January.
5) Robinsons Mall
Robinsons Place Antipolo has its own 30-foot Christmas tree lighting event happening on the second Saturday of November.
Last year, the event also included wonderful tales and entertaining shows for kids. In 2015, there are animated displays while in 2016, Yes Belen entries, a local competition, was on display on the facade of the mall.
From November to December, there are also musicals, mini concerts and chorale performances. So let’s hope there will be the same this year.
Christmas is also written as Xmas.
Unlike popular belief that it’s a way of the seculars to celebrate the holiday minus ‘Christ,’ X is actually derived from the word Χριστός which literally means Christ in English. And -mas is an old Latin word for mass.
No matter how you look at it the fact remains—Christmas is and will always be a religious tradition. Period.
Enjoy the season!