Heart of Gold: The Manila Hotel's Tree Lighting Ceremony Celebrates Hope and Overcoming Turbulent Times - Lifestyle Asia

The November 5 event also launched their holiday fundraiser initiative for orphaned children.

Although it’s been scaled down for the second year in a row, Manila Hotel’s 2021 Tree Lighting Ceremony celebrated not only the holiday tradition but also their charity and efforts for OFWs during the pandemic. 

On November 5, The Manila Hotel president Atty. Joey D. Lina was present with guests of honor Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Woodrow Maquiling, Jr., Mutya Pilipinas 2021 Miss Tourism International Keinth Jensen Petrasanta, and Mutya Pilipinas 2019-2020 Miss Tourism International Cyrille Payumo.

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From Left: DOT Regional Director Joseph Francisco Ortega, Regional Director of Region 10, Marie Elaine Unchuan, Mutya Pilipinas Queens Cyrille Payumo and Keinth Petrasanta, DOT NCR Regional Director/concurrent OIC-Asec for Tourism Development Woordow ‘RR’ C. Maquiling Jr., DOT Undersecretary Myra Abubakar, and The Manila Hotel President Atty Joey Lina / Photo courtesy of The Manila Hotel.

“When the pandemic hit the Philippines, Manila Hotel was the first to act fast in the COVID-19 response. [They] opened the doors of the Manila Hotel for the returning overseas Filipino workers for their quarantine and made them sure they were safe,” Maquiling Jr. said in his speech. “Thank you so much, Manila Hotel.”

 DOT NCR Regional Director/concurrent OIC-Asec for Tourism Development Woodrow ‘RR’ C. Maquiling Jr. / Photo courtesy of The Manila Hotel

The event was held on the same day Metro Manila was announced Alert Level 2, after months under Level 3 restrictions. The DOT officials considered this an additional reason to celebrate with Manila Hotel as the property has supported the department’s efforts to push for economic recovery. At the same time, the 109-year-old Hotel continues to implement IATF guidelines and deploys only fully vaccinated employees to attend to guests. 

Heart of Gold

Before the towering Christmas tree, designed by Rachy Cun, was lit, “Heart of Gold,” Manila Hotel’s holiday fundraiser was launched by president Atty. Joey D. Lina. From November 5 to December 30, every purchase of their stuffed animal mascot, Willy the Bear, will go to the House of Refuge Foundation. 

The Hotel’s holiday décor is curated by Creative Designer Rachy Cuna every year reflects rich Filipino culture and tradition. / Photo courtesy of The Manila Hotel

The DSWD-recognized level 3-accredited organization provides housing programs and services to abandoned and orphaned children. 

“The real essence of Christmas is to open ourselves and our hearts to others, especially during these unprecedented times brought about by COVID-19,” ASEC Maquiling adds to his speech. 

The symbolism

The Bear signifies much of Manila Hotel’s History. When Manila was left in ruins in World War II, a child’s toy bear was found amid the Hotel’s desecrated areas caused by bombings.

Willy the Bear was The Manila Hotel’s symbol of hope during WWII and, in recent times, for the pandemic. / Photo courtesy of The Manila Hotel

At the time, the property considered it to be a “symbol of hope in a time of desolation when it seemed to have abandoned us all.” Now, The Bear is a symbol of strength during the difficult times the pandemic triggered.

The Manila Hotel aims to offer orphaned children the joyous Christmas they deserve for each purchase of Willy the Bear. 

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

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