The holiday season is officially upon us as The Manila Hotel formally lights up its Christmas Tree on Friday, November 5, 2021 at 3pm. This much-anticipated Christmas tree lighting tradition marks the start of the holidays for the iconic hotel.
Decorating our Christmas tree as a family is one of our favorite holiday traditions. There’s something magical about gathering loved ones and watching the tree light up for the first time each year. This ceremony, which has been scaled down for the second year in a row, is a milestone moment that comes at a time when the hotel has also reopened its doors to staycation guests.
Joining The Manila Hotel president Atty Joey D. Lina in lighting up the tree as guests of honor are Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Woodrow Maquiling, Jr.; and Mutya Pilipinas 2021 Miss Tourism International Keinth Jensen Petrasanta, and Mutya Pilipinas 2019/2020 Miss Tourism International Cyrille Payumo.
The Manila Hotel supports the efforts of the Department of Tourism in reviving the industry and the push for economic recovery. Both are set to revitalize the tourism sector and are determined to work towards this goal. Still, the hotel follows strict health protocols and observes the guidelines issued by the DOT and the IATF, and deploys fully vaccinated personnel to attend to guests.
A yearly tradition
For a place many guests consider their second home, the holiday décor carefully curated by Creative Designer Rachy Cuna every year reflects the rich Filipino culture and tradition. The décor is always an homage to the artistry of our people from various regions of the country, something the hotel has always championed as the True Heart of the Philippines.
With this year’s theme, “Ginintuang Paraiso,” a stunning golden centerpiece sits in between the hotel’s iconic Doric columns, a sight that welcomes the guests as they walk in. Adding to that, a recurring element within the lobby is the golden woven birds that adorn the Christmas trees, as well as the Capiz shells that hang from the giant chandeliers that The Manila Hotel’s Grand Lobby is known for.
“Heart of Gold”
But the tree lighting ceremony is also a backdrop to The Manila Hotel Christmas campaign launched on the same day. The “Heart of Gold” holiday fundraiser, following the golden theme at the lobby, aims to raise funds for the House of Refuge, a DSWD-recognized level 3-accredited organization providing residence, programs, and services for abandoned, neglected, and orphaned children. From November 5 to December 30, 2021, for every purchase of The Manila Hotel’s Willy the Bear stuffed toy, the hotel will donate proceeds to the House of Refuge Foundation.
The Manila Hotel hopes the funds raised would provide for the children’s needs throughout the next year and bring them joy despite the pandemic. The “Heart of Gold” holiday fundraiser is the hotel’s appeal to its valued guests to open their hearts as well to these children. Despite the challenges, most people will likely buy gifts for their kids or loved ones, and this campaign encourages them to consider the Willy the Bear stuffed toy as a gift to spread the love around to more people.
Available at The Manila Hotel’s M Gift Shop (11am to 7pm), via the operator at 8527-0011, and soon over the hotel’s website www.manila-hotel.com.ph, Willy the Bear comes in three versions: Willy the Bear Bellman (white outfit), Willy the Bear Santa (red outfit), and the Limited Edition Willy the Bear in Barong.
The story of Willy the Bear
World War II left Manila in ruins including The Manila Hotel. The bombing destroyed the main building and the city seemed beyond repair. But miraculously, a child’s toy collection survived the assaults and became a spark of hope. The old luggage had a chess set, color marbles, sipa and a variety of balls, and other ceramic animal toys; among the precious loot was a teddy bear named “Willy” that showed no damage at all.
Willy became the symbol of hope in a time of desolation when it seemed to have abandoned us all. Willy the Bear now serves as a symbol of strength amid the pandemic that changed the way we live and move in the world. Willy the Bear is more than a gift to a child or loved one; he is the light inside us all.
Willy the Bear is Manila Hotel’s official mascot whose story is forever intertwined with ours.