Rejoice, it's almost Christmas!

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez -

It isn’t Christmas till the Ayala Malls say so, declares Ayala Malls group VP/COO Rowena Tomeldan, echoing publicist Ginggay Joven’s observation.

I kind of agree, because Ayala Malls are usually in the heart of a city’s commercial district, and the minute they put up their tree(s), it’s as if you have just set up your own tree in your living room. Just like your living room, an Ayala Mall is the focal point of a community, especially a business district. So when the Ayala Malls turn on their lights, the whole district is aglow — literally and figuratively.

In my mother’s house, the Christmas Season officially begins on Nov. 2. The solemnity of All Saints’ Day (we don’t really celebrate Halloween) is replaced by the expectations the holiday season brings. We take the Christmas décor out of storage, and with it, all the cheer we associate with the Yuletide Season.

Adding to the glow of Christmas 2010 is that retailers in the malls are feeling upbeat because of the new hope and the promise of change felt on the streets, says Tomeldan. Maybe the Christmas season is still part of the honeymoon period accorded any new administration, and people are still in the mood to give their new leaders a vote of confidence that the new year will be better under their helm.

And with Piolo Pascual serenading you with your favorite carols — hmmm, you can feel the Christmas spirit becoming contagious. This Christmas celebration will be launched in all Ayala Malls with special performances and activities. A Christmas Concert and Charity Auction featuring Piolo launches Greenbelt. Already known for his generous heart and charity work, the award-winning actor and accomplished recording artist (and conscientious taxpayer) has graciously lent his talents and will perform new and inspired renditions of well-loved Filipino Christmas songs on Nov.13 at the Greenbelt 5 Fashion Walk.

Coinciding with the concert is a Charity Auction for the benefit of the Habitat for Humanity Relocation Project in Calauan, Laguna. Proceeds from the Auction will go to communities around the Pasig River that are relocated to a permanent and more sustainable living space in Calauan, Laguna. Significant items, services and experiences from Ayala Malls Merchants will be auctioned off during the cocktail and concert event on Nov. 13 at the Gallery of Greenbelt 5.

Launching Christmas in the different Ayala Malls are also renowned local talents like Billy Crawford who will be performing on Nov. 12 for Glorietta, Martin Nievera for TriNoma on Nov. 21, Regine Velasquez for Alabang Town Center on Nov. 20 and Jay-R on Nov. 13 for MarQuee.

One of the highlights of the “Imagine” campaign is a first of its kind presentation of a Christmas Ballet Concert featuring “A Pinoy Christmas” and excerpts of “The Nutcracker Act 2”, “The Land of Sweets” featuring Clara, “The Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of Sweets” with the Steps Dance Project, spearheaded by their director and founder Sofia Zobel Elizalde. The Christmas Ballet Concert will be staged at various Ayala Malls including Market!Market! on Nov. 6 and 7, Glorietta on Nov. 20 and 21, Alabang Town Center on Dec. 4 and 5, TriNoma on Dec. 11 and 12, and MarQuee on Dec. 18 and 19.

Other events to celebrate the spirit of the Holiday season are activities for kids and families to enjoy. Christmas Stations in the different Ayala Malls will have a Nutcracker Photo Station, Book Fair and Toy Fair this Yuletide Season. Santa Claus will also visit the different Ayala Malls to be able to hear their Christmas wishes. Christmas fireworks during weekends will also be held for families to enjoy. To further celebrate the gift of giving are Nutcracker premium items and shopping bags to be sold for the benefit of Habitat for Humanity, Centex, and Children’s Hour.

Sigma Delta honors women achievers

The Sigma Delta Phi Alumnae Association and Sigma Delta Phi sorority of the University of the Philippines, considered the oldest sorority in the university, will be honoring the achievers among its members on Nov. 7 at the Crowne Plaza.

The sorority, which stands for Society of Dramatics and Fine Arts and which was founded in 1933, is celebrating its 77th anniversary this year. Among the activities slated in the evening affair will be a tribute to its sole living founder, Gloria Lucero-Monzon, who will be turning 100 years old on Nov. 7. Members of batch 1950, led by incumbent Alumnae Association president Ligaya Lualhati Tankeh, will be honored also as Diamond jubilarians.

Another main highlight of the event will be the presentation of the second Betty Go-Belmonte Awards to the following: prominent lawyer and incumbent trustee of the UP Women’s Study Center Foundation, Maria Araceli Herrera Reyes ‘47, for Women Empowerment; eminent lawyer and longest serving treasurer of Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Ester Sison-Cruz ’49, for Outstanding Service to the Sorority; prominent socio-civic leader in Mindanao, Patria Garcia Montemayor ‘49, for Community Empowerment; and social research specialist and incumbent deputy director and vice-president of Social Weather Station (SWS) Linda Luz Bacungan-Guerrero ’73, for Peace and Social Cohesion. YWCA will be the NGO awardee for Socio-civic and Humanitarian Services.

Betty Go-Belmonte, who was the founding chairman of The Philippine Star, was known for her pursuit of integrity and excellence, not only in journalism, but also in all aspects of everyday life. She was the first president of the Sigma Delta Phi Alumnae Association (SDPAA), and was also responsible for its incorporation and the institutionalization of its outreach and socio-civic programs.

The Philippine Star and the SDPAA will also honor one deserving UP student coed, majoring in Journalism, who has shown excellence not only in academics but has been active in extra-curricular activities and community work. Ongoing search is being undertaken with the assistance of University System vice-president for Public Affairs, Prof. Isabelita Reyes and UP College of Mass Communication Dean Roland Tolentino.

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(You may e-mail me at [email protected])

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