Ayala Festival of Lights

posted by 04/12/2015 0 comments

For about six years now, Ayala Land has brought the city of Makati the Festival of Lights. Centered in the hub of Manila’s business and cultural center, this annual event is long awaited for. It is talked about across circles; it is one of the highlights of the ‘ber’ months.

Last year when we came for our scoping trip, I met a local in the playroom of our hotel. He was waiting for his wife to finish working, playing with his little daughter. I was hanging with the kids to pass time, and as our children threw balls at each other we were chatting about things to do here. He told me about these lights. I mentioned it to SB who told me someone at his work had also mentioned it. So one night, in ignorant bliss about how to navigate life here, we jumped in a taxi during peak hour, during a supposed typhoon (there had been a little bit of rain), to venture out for this exciting sounding affair. It took over an hour and a half in the traffic, and the kids were hungry and sleepy. Then we arrived and of course, at the risk of a typhoon the whole city goes into crisis mode so the light show was cancelled that night.

To say I was pissed off would be the most massive understatement. We did find a delicious meal in one of the restaurants on the strip there, but we have spent the past year feeling totally ripped off. This whole year we have spoken of these lights and the fact we will make it this year, no matter what.

Saturday just gone was the day. I had planned an afternoon venture into Makati to first check out a bazaar and then we would hang out in this lovely park waiting for the lights. The show starts at 6pm and is repeated every

Ayala Triangle Park

half an hour. We would get pizza from Amici and sit on the grass enjoying the vibe. That is exactly what we did.

Ayala Triangle is a triangular shaped park in the middle of Makati. It is a lush green space filled with interest with its circular raised walls and garden beds. Secrets lay hidden around corners, couples snuggled on bench seats, theatrical folk rehearsed programs and children ran around and rode on scooters. The air was filled with beautiful noise and the restaurant strip I remembered so well from last year, was gearing up for the evenings with a number of marquis set up so people could sit out, enjoy their meal and watch the light show from afar.
The weather was warm and balmy with a soft cool breeze. The kind of temperature that calms you, seeps into your muscles and eases the aches. I could hear birds in the trees which always makes me smile.
Just before six SB went off hunter gathering and brought our pizza. While we waited, the children played in the trees, excited to be around trees they could climb, and as we checked out where the lights would be displayed the organizers were testing the smoke machines. I loved watching children run from far and wide, standing, waiting in anticipation for a machine to spew out its smoke. When it did the air was filled with squeals of delight and children jumped around, knocking each other over and waving their arms about to get covered in it. Then the lights on a few trees started to flicker and there were sounds of excitement now filling the air. Christmas carols played and I found myself singing along to old favourites. The atmosphere was delightful. It was happy.

Six o’clock came and the show started. We stood in the square surrounded by the trees that were the stage for this magic. It was magic. I have never been ‘in’ a light show like this before. The music boomed and the lights flashed in a multitude of colour in beat with the sound. The smoke machines puffed and the audience ‘wowed’ and sighed and cheered. I turned around in a circle taking it in, trying to take every bit of it in. We were surrounded by hundreds of lights. BB was tired and the noise of the music became too much for his sensitive ears. We had tears for a while until we found a smoke machine away from the main speakers. A place he could find balance with his surrounds and enjoy the smoke. I felt like I was in a magical land for those few minutes of the show. I felt like a child again and tears welled because I am a sooky-lala when I feel emotional. It was just so beautiful. Soon the show was over and we stayed so we could see it again. I held FB in my arms and we danced to the music under the lights. Spinning her around, her little head thrown back, a giant smile across her face and the reflection of colourful lights in her eyes and soft giggles filling my space. When the show ended again, we slowly walked back through the park as John Lennon’s ‘So this is Christmas’ played. The whole evening was enchanting.

Ayala Festival of Lights 2015

Since it was still relatively early, peak hour was in full swing and we had no chance of getting a taxi back to our place. After grumblings of sending our driver home early, we sat in one of the marquis and had a beer while the children ran around on the grass in the dark, faces lit up by the distant light show.
Finally we were heading home, the children totally hyperactive from being overtired and over stimulated. They love Christmas lights and they found more joy looking out of the taxi windows at buildings decorated with flashing colourful lights for the whole ride home.
I have said it in the past. Manila is a city of contradictions. One thing for sure though, is that this city knows how to do Christmas. This city comes even more alive and the streets are literally lined with lights. It is just beautiful and my goodness it makes me smile.

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