Manila Hotel lights up Christmas Tree, launches fund drive for orphans

Published November 6, 2021

by Robert Requintina

Christmas at The Manila Hotel

The Manila Hotel ushered in the holidays with its Christmas Tree Lighting on Friday, Nov. 5, as the government lauded the role of the premiere Philippine hotel at the height of the pandemic.

Lots of oohs and aahs were heard as the small crowd watched the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree in the hotel lobby.

“Christmas in the Philippines is like no other in the world. It is one of the longest and most festive. We have gathered once more to celebrate one of the most cherished traditions to welcome the beginning of a long and hopefully the more meaningful Christmas yet in one of the most trusted hotel brands in the country and the oldest at that -109 – the Manila Hotel,” said Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Woodrow Maquiling Jr., in his short speech before the holiday tree was lighted. “The lighting of the Christmas Tree is a perfect way to usher in the most beloved and revered holiday in the Philippines, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Maquiling cited the hard work of the staff of the Manila Hotel, who worked day and night to put up the Christmas Tree.

This afternoon’s ceremony was also made possible by the hard work of the many talented individuals of the Manila Hotel who worked day and night to bring us this beacon of light as we look forward to a season of joy with family and friends. Sila lang talaga ang gumawa nito, all the staff of the Manila Hotel,” the tourism official said.

Maquiling lauded the efforts of the Manila Hotel, which opened its doors for returning overseas Filipino workers during the pandemic.

And I would like to mention when the pandemic hit the Philippines, Manila Hotel was the first to act fast in the COVID-19 response when they opened the doors of the Manila Hotel for the returning overseas Filipino workers for their quarantine and made them sure they are safe. So thank you so much, Manila Hotel,” he said.

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 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), and deploys fully vaccinated personnel to attend to guests.

Also joining The Manila Hotel president Atty Joey D. Lina in lighting up the tree as guests of honor were Mutya Pilipinas 2021 Miss Tourism International Keinth Jensen Petrasanta, and Mutya Pilipinas 2019/2020 Miss Tourism International Cyrille Payumo.

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.

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.

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 Nov. 5 to Dec. 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.

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.

Available at The Manila Hotel’s M Gift Shop (11 am to 7 pm), via the operator at 8527-0011, and soon over the hotel’s website, 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.