Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Lights Up Cubao

When we were kids, my family made a yearly Christmas season tradition of going to Cubao to see the lights and the annual COD Christmas show.

We'd have an early dinner, bundle up in christmas themed sweaters and pick up cousins, aunts and uncles in the family jeep. We'd join the crowd milling in front of the Araneta mall, looking for a good place to park, where our view sitting on the roof of the jeep would be unhindered by anybody and anything. We'd be munching on chips and sipping cold Coke in plastic bags, trying not to gobble everything up before the show even started. Below us, a sea of people expectantly watch for signs that the show was about to start, as vendors with balloons and cotton candy weave through the crowd. Other enterprising souls set up shop in the fringes of the crowd selling popcorn, hot street food and cold drinks. Sometimes though, we'd be out of luck and the jeep would have to be parked out of the line of sight, us kids would take turns getting shoulder rides from our fathers and uncles when the mechanical wonder show began.

When the lights come on and the music starts, there would be a babble of excited voices, young and old alike, yelling, "Ayan na! It's starting!". And all eyes would turn to the tableux way above our heads, mouths agape in wonder. There would be angels, kings, giant toys, clowns and flying animals in bright lights, music and an amazing background with snow, candy canes and gift boxes.

I could only gaze in wonder at the magical scene before me and long after the show was over and we'd be in bed, we'd still be talking about it in the dark. For us, the COD Christmas show was the great sign that the Christmas season had truly begun. From there, we could properly do the countdown til Christmas day arrived with its presents, parties, family gatherings, food and various Christmas family traditions.

I'm sure many of my generation can remember those days and can empathize with how I felt when COD closed down. Of course, now that I'm older, I know that nothing lasts forever. I still couldn't help but feel so sad that a childhood symbol of my Christmas would be nothing more than a fond memory to share with my kids.

At least the Christmas lights and displays of the Araneta Center still continue according to tradition these days. Now that Cubao is being spruced up and energized by new developments and malls, it's heartening to see that the Cubao of my childhood is not going to be lost to grime and neglect. (I was so happy that the Giant Christmas Tree tradition was still on!) My rediscovery of Cubao and the many Christmas memories I can share with my kids coincides with Coke's newest slogan of shaking up and waking up happiness. The COD Christmas show may be gone, but there are still other Christmas traditions still alive to enjoy and new ones to make with this generation.

I find it comforting, as if recovering a part of my lost childhood, that Coca-Cola's Christmas Caravan kicked off with the annual Araneta Center Giant Tree Lighting last November 12, 2010 at the Araneta Coliseum parking lot with "Shake up the happiness. Wake it up, wake up the happiness. It’s Christmas time!". 

From our friends at Coke :)

Kicking off the day’s funfair was a grand parade led by a convoy of Coca-Cola Christmas trucks carrying Coca-Cola ambassadors Kim Chiu and Enchong Dee with teen celebrities Empress Schuck, Joseph Marco, Matt Evans and the Pinoy Big Brother Teen Clash of 2010 housemates Ivan Dorschner, James Reid, Ryan Bang, Bret Jackson, Tricia Santos, Jenny Sol, Devon Seron and Fretzie Bercede, Starstruck idols Kris Bernal, Steven Silva, Rocco Nacino Enzo Pineda and Diva Montelaba along with the Philippine Navy Band which marched along and rocked out the Araneta Center with lively renditions of popular Christmas jingles.

Right after the caravan spread cheers across the upbeat hub, more and more surprises were opened up as the energetic duo of Nicole Hyala and Chris Tsuper welcomed guests to the various game, activity and photo booths lined up by Coca-Cola just before the official tree lighting ceremony started. The renowned Love Radio tandem DJ’s bonded and shared an early Noche Buena feast with the celebrity guests, granted some of the guests’ heartfelt wishes and gave away raffle prizes to lucky folks all through out the afternoon.

In no time, all the rush and thrill finally led to the much-awaited lighting of the Giant Christmas Tree situated at the heart of Araneta Center, a celebrated custom since 1981. The exciting countdown to the “it-moment” was joined in by officials from the local government, Araneta Center and The Coca-Cola Company along with Kim Chiu and Enchong Dee along with other personalities and celebrity guests. Standing at almost 100ft. this year’s tree is bedecked with more than 10, 000 lights and hundreds of stars and Coca-Cola Christmas balls, with huge ribbons and colorful gift boxes as accents. Through the years, it has been a beacon of hope among the Filipinos; a most cherished icon that signals the beginning of the holiday season and reminds us to always believe in the magic and happiness it brings, the same way Coca-Cola inspires.

Unlike in the previous years, Coca-Cola gave the amazed partakers more reasons to light up happiness among themselves and others around them as it held the first-ever simulated lights and sounds show. The magical harmony of lively Christmas anthems and dazzling beams that sparkled among the Coca-Cola caravan up to the giant tree culminated to a fireworks display, which left guests in high spirits.

Indeed it was a day of wonderful surprises, moreover when Coca-Cola also launched the Coca-Cola Contour Glass promo. “The Coca-Cola contour glass is one of this season’s fun, ultimate merry must-haves that will surely complete our Noche Buena bonding and allow us to keep refreshing ourselves with the deliciously fizzy cola drink we all love. It’s available in five perky colors such as red, yellow, violet and green and the latest addition to the bunch, the aquamarine contour glass. Let’s make moments count this Christmas by sharing them together. Let’s make it more colorful with an ice-cold Coke and these cool contours,” says Coca-Cola ambassador Kim Chiu.

It’s so easy to take home all five Coca-Cola Christmas Contour Glasses: Buy Coca-Cola, Coke Light, Coke Zero, Sprite or Royal Tru Orange in any of the 500ml, 750ml, 1L, 1.5L and 2L packs. Look under the Santa cap for the “Coke Glass” text and collect 2 more regular Coca-Cola Santa caps and exchange these caps for one Coca-Cola Christmas Contour Glass from any 7 Eleven store, selected sari-sari stores or public markets and Coca-Cola Sales offices nationwide. You may redeem from November 15 to December 31, 2010 only.

This Christmas, let us all open and celebrate magical moments together shared with nothing less than the irreplaceable sparkle that uniquely refreshes and makes us happy- Coca-Cola. Energizing Christmas Spirit.

Open Coca-Cola, Open Happiness.

*Greenhills has a Christmas On Display show every night.
*Ayala Triangle has a light and sound show too!

Make your own Christmas traditions :) Watch the shows with friends and family, share the special moments and keep the Christmas spirit alive!