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A new old Christmas tale |

Sunday Lifestyle

A new old Christmas tale

Micah Levin Isla - The Philippine Star
A new old Christmas tale

Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala’s vibrant masterpiece breathes new life into the Greenbelt 3 tunnel.

Ayala Malls welcomes the season in a new yet familiar way

MANILA, Philippines - If I were to give 2016 a single-word slogan, it would have to be “change.” This year, the inevitable change arrived in big waves that ushered us into a new era of awakening. And though the surges of the unfamiliar may have given rise to polarizing discourse, our nation still embraced the new and began dancing to a different tune. After all, the only constant thing in life is change.

 In the midst of it all, Ayala Malls had its own change of heart — quite literally so. As the cooler breeze began to waft through the now-decked and well-lit streets of the metro, the heart installations at Marquee Mall, TriNoma, Alabang Town Center, Greenbelt, Glorietta, and Solenad have started to don a more festive look. The most wonderful time of the year is here again, and the country’s beloved brand of shopping destinations is on a mission to make our hearts go aflutter.

 The Ayala Malls Hearts, brought to life by brilliant artists, has become a must-see, Instagram-worthy attraction for mall-goers since its inception early this year. More than just a visual treat and a tangible expression of Ayala Malls’ ongoing “Love Em” campaign, these “art hearts” are also working to remind us of something we might forget while trying to cope with the deluge of changes: “Everything must be rooted in love.” That when things do not seem to make sense and uncertainties strike, we must go back to our core and let love guide the way.

 This Christmas ­— when love is at an all-time high — Ayala Malls commissioned the same artists to give the hearts a more celebratory vibe. Marquee’s heart was transformed into a picture of a loving family, a change that is meant to reinforce the significance of unity and togetherness in a time when certain forces are out to divide. Artist Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco, with the help of her children Tasha and Bella, gave little kids at Alabang Town Center the power to change the mall’s heart showpiece into a holiday eye candy. Talented painters Alessandra Lanot and Mercedes Olondriz gave Glorietta’s art hearts a holiday makeover by adding poinsettia accents and a host of other Christmas florals. The TriNoma illustrators went all out by giving its hearts the 3D treatment, making a snowman and a Santa Claus out of the existing masterpieces. The familiar hearts may have taken a new form, reimagined in many ways; but at the very core, they are the same hearts. What matters most is the basic thing it stands for: unconditional love.

Another remarkable transformation at the Ayala Malls is the artwork inside the tunnel by the Ralph Lauren store that leads to Greenbelt 3. Every year, artist-photographer Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala surprises passersby with his vibrant imagery that graces the famous passageway, and this year, his colorful vision delivers a significant message: “When you treasure relationships, true happiness will come.” Families, couples, friends, and colleagues who pass the tunnel, whether on foot or on wheels, see an image that provokes a thought: always remember that the people we go through the tunnel of life with is what truly counts. Hand in hand or side by side, in the end, Christmas or any other day, we must cherish the ones we walk with in this lifetime.

In collaboration with Steps Dance Project, Ayala Malls is also playing a new tune by bringing together local and foreign acts to create a musical extravaganza like no other. A new breed of entertainment presented itself in the form of I Got Stung, an eargasmic celebration of the timeless hits of multi-awarded icon Sting. This stunning production, choreographed by James Laforteza and helmed by musical director Mon Faustino, gathered some of today’s sought-after performers Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, Xian Lim, and Daryl Ong to give Sting’s chart-topping classics a modern charm, while the dancers of Steps provided the moves that heightened the experience. To add more glitter to the already sparkling spectacle, Ayala Malls invited two former Alvin Ailey dancers Aubree Brown and Jamal White from New York, and guest choreographer Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, the only Filipina principal dancer of the renowned American dance company.

Aside from being a shopping haven, Ayala Malls has also cultivated itself as a community that embraces change with the hope of a brighter future — and a perfect testament to this is the ongoing series of shows by the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra. The prestigious Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO), which was founded in 1962 and is currently under the wing of Ayala Malls, is passing on the proverbial musical torch to the next generation. How lovely it is to hear those signature MSO harmonies that made the world listen and to see that kind of prestige and discipline carried out by the younger set?
What’s even more wonderful is the fact that these shows are a fundraising effort to build their own symphony hall at Circuit Lane. So, instead of braving the holiday traffic head on, why not stay for an extra hour or two at an Ayala Mall and delight in a filament of exquisite melodies? Catch the remaining shows of the MSO Junior Orchestra under the baton of Jeffrey Solares tonight at Ayala Malls Southpark, Solenad (Dec. 16), UP Town Center (Dec. 17), Alabang Town Center (Dec. 18), and a special quartet performance at Glorietta (Dec. 17).  And speaking of the unforgiving gridlock that comes with the holidays — not to mention the hassle of finding a parking space — Ayala Malls is offering the P2P buses as an alternative to driving (which we all know, especially these days, is way more stressful than last-minute gift shopping). To ensure a worry-free trip to the malls, take note that the RRCG P2P buses from Alabang Town Center (ATC) to Greenbelt 1 — which are currently operating regularly but will have a 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. schedule on December 24 and 30 — are going to pause for a holiday break on December 25 and 31. Meanwhile, the Greenbelt 1 to ATC route, which has the same holiday breaks, will have a 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. run on December 24 and 30.

Much has been said about change over the course of the past few months, and most of it seemed frightening and totally unfamiliar, but one look at the well-lit avenues of December — alive with running lights and yuletide ornaments — and you will sense something familiar, something reminiscent of home. And just like the hearts at Ayala Malls, the outside may take on a new guise, but if the core remains the same — as long as love sits in the middle — every change you welcome can only be for the better.



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