Friday, December 23, 2005

Plazas all over the country turned into Christmas wonderlands

AMIDST political scandals, bird flu scares, natural calamities, and even a widespread economic crunch, town plazas and municipal halls from as far as Mahatao, Batanes in the north down to Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur in the south have been transformed into merry wonderland of lights and Christmas scenes. With brightly colored parols, belens and Christmas trees peppering the once bare facades, one will really say: “It’s Christmas!”

Since October, local government leaders and town and citifolk have been pooling their strength, resources, ideas and creative juices together to come up with the best Christmastown creation to compete in Lady’s Choice’s first-ever nationwide Christmas landmark-making contest.

Dubbed “Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005,” the competition’s objective was to encourage ingenuity and creativity among the participants, and more importantly, tap into the bayanihan spirit inherent among Filipinos.

This year’s winner, the "Arch of Friendship" from Naawan, Misamis Oriental, is a testament to this uniquely Pinoy quality. Naawan may be a fifth-class municipality, but it triumphed over more than a hundred other richer and bigger cities and bested even Christmas “tourist spots.”

The breathtaking structure was made of bamboo and coconut lumber and stretches across a national highway, symbolizing “connectivity” -- the local government's desire to bridge distance and foster good relationships among the town's 10 barangays.

Naawan Mayor Dennis Roa proudly said the Arch of Friendship is a result of sheer hardwork and the bayanihan spirit of townsfolk who voluntarily donated cash or materials and spent sleepless nights laboring over their entry.

He said while it was difficult to to gather materials to suit the requirements and execute the design which needed highly-skilled craftsmen to execute, in the end, unity among the townsfolk prevailed.

The Arch has five main features -- the Belfry, the Bridge, the Lamps, Kabisig (Human Replica) and the Balcony. The Belfry or the bell tower, a Hispanic structural influence, symbolizes Christianity brought by the Spaniards. It is a timely reminder of the Christ’s presence as The Way, The Truth and the Life.

“We wanted to remind all people who pass through the arch that to follow Him, we must climb the ladder and follow His path---a life of service to humanity and love without measure,” said Mayor Roa.

Naawan was awarded a P1-million endowment fund for a "Lady’s Choice Creativity Center," and an additional P200,000 in cash prizes.

The 11 runners-up likewise creatively exhibited the spirit of bayanihan through their uniquely crafted entries. Angono, Rizal’s “Higantes sa Pagkakaisa,” a nativity scene conceptualized by no less than the town’s reputed artists, has different renditions of the Lady’s Choice egg-shaped jars which beautifully adorned the whole landmark.

The municipality of Baa-o, Camarines Sur, meanwhile, built a giant egg-turned-nativity scene with other colorfully created renditions of other Christmas symbols like a giant Christmas tree and Santa Claus all revolving around eggs, the town’s main product.

Bangued, Abra’s entry, a bamboo Christmas tree and a larger-than-life 3D figure of the town’s Governor Valera riding a horse carrying a wagon of a giant Lady’s Choice bottle, is truly a sight to behold that once again gives pride to the people of Abra.

Lagonoy, Camarines Sur’s entry, on the other hand, is a classic display of the bayanihan spirit with a spectacle of all the Christmas symbols such as a giant parol, a marble-made belen, all a giant Christmas tree, and a bevy of glittering Christmas lights that invite a truly joyous Holiday season.

Other inspiring Christmas landmarks from the runners-up are Leganes, Iloilo’s bahay kubo-inspired belen called the “Payagpag sang Paghiliusa” (the hut of unity); Lemery, Batangas’ nativity scene with giant bottle as manger; and Luna, Apayao’s three-deck Christmas tree made of anahaw leaves, bamboo, rattan, twigs and wild vines. Completing the lineup of equally talented runners-up are Laoag City, Ilocos Norte; Tagum City, Davao del Norte; Tangub, Misamis Occidental and Tubungan, Iloilo.

The board of judges was composed of National Artist for Literature Alejandro Roces; renowned glass sculptor Ramon Orlina; Ma. Cristina Toralba, an urban and regional planner and expert in heritage architecture, and Alex Dan Tacderas, a marketing executive of Unilever.

“Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005” is supported by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Girls Scouts of the Philippines, Soroptimist International and Quota International.

To view photos and read more about this year’s entries, you can visit and

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Christmasterpiece Winners

GOLD AWARDEE (Grand Prize Winner)



  1. Angono, Rizal

  2. Baao, Camarines Sur

  3. Bagued, Abra

  4. Lagonoy, Camarines Sur

  5. Laoag City, Ilocos Sur

  6. Leganes, Iloilo

  7. Lemery, Batangas

  8. Luna, Apayao

  9. Tagum City, Davao del Norte

  10. Tangub, Misamis Occidental (Entry No. 2)

  11. Tubungan, Iloilo


    1. Aparri, Cagayan

    2. Bansud, Oriental Mindoro

    3. Binalonan, Pangasinan

    4. Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte

    5. Davao City, Davao del Sur

    6. Iligan City, Lanao del Norte 1

    7. Iloilo City, Iloilo

    8. Pototan, Iloilo

    9. San Fernando City, La Union 1

    10. Sariaya, Quezon

    11. Solsona, Ilocos Norte

    12. Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur

    13. Tangub City, Misamis Occidental 1

    Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Small town beats big cities in Christmas landmark-making contest

    THE MUNICIPALITY of Naawan in Misamis Oriental is a picture of how hapless the situation of the poor is in a third-world country. Consisting of 10 barangays with a population of only 17,000, it is the smallest town in the province. Classified as a fifth-class municipality, it is one of the poorest towns here in the country with an annual per capita income below P10,000.

    Yet indigence never stopped Naawan townsfolk to enjoy life and dream big. They take pride in being one of the country’s pillars of economic survival, diligently performing their jobs as farmers and fishermen. Even amidst scarcity, they have also never ceased in believing in themselves, helping one another and working together for the benefit of their municipality.

    These outstanding qualities on top of the town's collective creativity have won the hearts of the judges headed by National Artist Dr. Alejandro Roces, as the municipality of Naawan was declared the grand prize winner in Lady's Choice "Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005."

    The town’s entry dubbed “Arc of Friendship,” was adjudged the best landmark among over a hundred participants in the country's first inter-town/city landmark-making contest. The arc, situated in front of the municipal hall, was chosen for perfectly epitomizing the spirit of Christmas even amidst the challenges of poverty.

    A small town besting other big cities and municipalities in a prestigious competition like this is truly a huge success and honor. This only goes to show that no matter how poor you are, you can still excel in whatever challenges in life as long as you work together and give your 100% effort,” said Naawan Municipal Mayor Dennis L. Roa.

    Mayor Roa said that joining competitions during Christmas is nothing new to the people of Naawan. Christmas symbol-making contest has become a yearly activity of his administration, held as an inter-barangay competition to showcase the spirit of the bayanihan through creativity of each barangay. Joining the Lady’s Choice competition this year has made them decide that they were ready to face bigger challenges no longer competing with one another, but joining hands to compete with other cities and municipalities.

    According to Mayor Roa, “The Arc of Friendship” was a labor of love for Naawenos. More than a hundred people from different affiliations – the Association of Barangay Captains, Naawan Electrician Association, non-government organization Karacho, the Philippine Independent Catholic Church, United Church of Christ and the town’s own parish church – worked hand in hand to build the landmark that traverses the national highway.

    The people started the construction of the arc in October and successfully finished its completion by early this month,” Mayor Roa explained. “We’ve decided to call it ‘Arc of Friendship’ because it connects two cities – the Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.”

    Building the landmark truly brought out the innate ingenuity, faith in one another and sense of hard work in each and everyone involved in the project. Through pieces of bamboo and coconut lumber as well as various decorative materials like straw mats and Christmas lights, Naawenos built a structure that symbolizes true friendship and genuine volunteerism which perfectly reflect the Filipino culture.

    At both ends of the arc stood images of people arm in arm to portray that we Filipinos are always working together in the face of trials as well as towards a progressive future for the nation. The landmark truly provides an inspiration to all of us in this time of great challenges,” Mayor Roa said.

    Workers of the arc also made use of around 400 empty bottles of Lady’s Choice egg-shaped jars, one of the requirements in the competition. The mayor said those who were not involved in the actual construction of the arc gave their contribution by donating their empty bottles.

    The remarkable highlights that made the Naawan landmark a winner are the belltower symbolizing our country being the only Catholic nation in Asia, and a balcony that stands for hospitality, the quality which Filipinos are greatly known for.

    Mayor Roa called the arc the “Pride of Naawan.” “It connects people to the town church, municipal hall and schools, so they now have an easy access to these establishments. That’s why we believe that this is not only a product of how creative and hardworking we can be as a people, but also gives an inspiration to cross any bridge of challenge with success waiting at the other end.”

    The mayor revealed that although Naawan is a poor town, it has already won so many awards because of the people’s bayanihan. The people truly give importance to this spirit that for this project, “the people worked for free and courtesy of the Naawan Electrician Association, electricity lighting the arc is also given free. That’s how dedicated our people are to show the importance of Christmas.”

    With the P1 million grand prize, Mayor Roa has promised his people that he will build a creative center for them, so that the out-of-school youth could be given a source of livelihood. “I want to lead them in continuously having faith in themselves, that even though our town is poverty-stricken, we could still strive for a good future.”

    Aside from the P1 million grant as the “Most Creative Town or City,” Naawan LGU also receives P100,000 as the winning team and P100,000 for the sponsoring civic group. On top of the prizes, Naawan will also be the cover in Lady’s Choice 2006 Commemorative Calendar. Regional finalists received P25,000 each.

    NAAWAN named the country's MOST CREATIVE TOWN

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    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Luna, Apayao

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    Angono, Rizal

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    Saturday, December 10, 2005

    Naawan, Misamis Oriental

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    Lagonoy, Camarines Sur

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    Tangub City entry 2

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    Sariaya, Quezon

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    Bangued, Abra

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    Tubungan, Iloilo province

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    Tangub City, Misamis Occidental

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    Tagum City,

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    Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur

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    Pototan, Iloilo province

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    Lemery, Batangas

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    Leganes, Iloilo province

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    Laoag City

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    Iloilo City

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    Iligan City

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    Davao City

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    Dapitan City

    Called the Shrine City, Dapitan's claim to fame is its being the place of exile of Dr. Jose Rizal. A rustic city with probably one of the most beautiful sunsets, Dapitan has a typical rural ambiance. Bayanihan is nothing new to its townsfolk. Thus, when the city government decided to join Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005, organizers did not have a hard time putting together their entry.

    At least 3,000 womenfolk helped in creating the city's Christmas landmark. Posted by Picasa

    Bansud, Oriental Mindoro

    The only entry in the whole island of Mindoro, Bansud's Christmasterpiece is a product of hardwork and perseverance by various sectors in the municipality. Made mostly of bamboo, the masterpiece have awed the young and old alike. People have never stopped coming in since it was lighted up late November. Posted by Picasa


    A live train rotates around Baao's giant Christmas Tree. It is a political statement aimed at calling the government's attention to the need for a new railway system that would enable residents to bring their products to the capital. Posted by Picasa

    Baao, Camarines Sur

    From the "Egg Capital of Camarines" comes a giant Christmas tree made of egg shells and egg trays. Truly unique in its own way, Baao's Christmasterpiece is also a tribute to the first Filipino Bishop, Jorge Barlin. Posted by Picasa

    Aparri, Cagayan

    Called the Tree of Unity, Aparri's Christmasterpiece symbolizes development and rich cultural heritage. Posted by Picasa

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    Towns, cities gear up for 1st Christmas landmark-making contest

    FROM the far-flung province of Apayao in the north to the distant city of Tangub, Misamis Oriental, the spirit of Christmas is now felt even this rainy month of November as local government units gear up to create the best Christmas landmark to represent their respective cities or municipalities in Lady’s Choice' “Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005.”

    The town of Luna in Apayao, San Fernando City in La Union, Manapla City in Negros Occidental, and Tangub City in Mindanao are now all busy building their symbolic landmarks to reflect the traditional Filipino celebration of the Chrismas season.

    “These towns are just a few of the participants who signed up early for this competition. We are truly grateful for the overwhelming interest they’ve shown in support of this meaningful endeavor which aims to foster unity and creativity among Filipinos in this trying times, “ said Lady's Choice brand manager Rudi Ramin.
    Luna, Apayao Mayor Betty Versola epitomizes a true leader to a town of enthusiastic supporters who are indeed modern-day bayanihan heroes. “We are really excited to be a part of this momentous endeavor because we all need to be reminded of our good qualities as Filipinos. This is really a fitting time to showcase our rich traditions that are best displayed during the Holiday season,” she said.

    Mayor Versola has gone to the extent of conducting a cooking contest using the Lady’s Choice products so the bottles could be of use for the landmark-making contest.

    “That’s how eager we are to showcase our creativity,” Versola shares.

    Meanwhile in San Fernando, La Union, Mayor Mary Jane Ortega takes pride in being the very first town to sign up for the contest. “We find this as a very significant contribution in an effort to bring Filipinos closer together in these hard times. Nothing could be more fulfilling than to see your constituents work hard to achieve a common goal: to create a landmark that shall inspire us Filipinos this Christmas season,” she said.

    While refusing to say what her city's entry is, Ortega described it as “one that definitely mirror La Union's Christmas tradition.”

    Over at Manapla City in Negros Occidental, the parish church is as excited. No less than Monsignor Guillermo Gaston lead the creation of a belen-themed landmark with the collective effort from the parishioners.

    “What makes our belen truly different yet inspiring is that instead of the traditional manger, our landmark have trimmings of a fishing village to reflect the local scene,” he explains.

    The Monsignor said they are truly grateful to Lady’s Choice. He said the project provided a renewed sense of unity not only among parishioners, but also among the schools and barangays of the municipality.

    “We are very encouraged with the enthusiasm shown by our parishioners. We have asked them to donate empty bottles of Lady's Choice and they are all very supportive,” he says.

    In Tangub City, Vice Mayor Edemar Alota and his constituents could not be more up to the challenge. In fact, the southern city is now heralded as “the team to beat.”

    “We will have five entries for the contest,” the vice mayor said. “We’ve organized the local government employees to group them into five teams to come up with different renditions of the Filipino Christmas tradition. Our entries will be displayed in the town plaza, where people can see the fruits of their labor.”

    Vice Mayor Alota said the local government plans to launch its official entry on Dec. 1. In the meantime, his mouth is zipped about the details of the entry to beat. “What’s important, really, is the hard work our people put into this landmark. We want to showcase our ingenuity here in Tangub, and this is really a great way to show it. This is also our way of giving tribute to our constituents and making them happy especially this coming Holiday season,” he said.

    “These are just few of the entries and we are really excited to hear the stories of the others and those who are preparing to join as they create their Christmasterpieces,” Lady's Choice' Ramin said.

    The best entry will be named the “Most Creative Town or City” and will be given a P1-million grant for a Creativity Center. On top of the grant, the winning team will take home P100,000, another P100,000 will go to the sponsoring civic organization, and P25,000 each for the regional finalists. Aside from these amazing prizes, the finalists will automatically be included in the Lady’s Choice 2006 Commemorative Calendar.

    December 2005 Counters
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