While I was browsing posts shared by my friends in Facebook, I chanced upon a post shared by a friend that really made me smile as it brought so much happy childhood memories to me. The post I am referring to was about the return of Christmas on Display (C.O.D.) in Cubao (Quezon City, Philippines).
C.O.D. became a fixture on the facade of the Manila C.O.D. Department Store in Araneta Center in 1966 and was the brainchild of Alex Rosario, Sr. founder of the Manila C.O.D. Each year they have a different theme, it was a prominent attraction in Cubao during Christmas until the Manila C.O.D. ceased operations in 2002.
COD show was a much awaited event in the 80s and even up to the 90s. The road will be closed as people from different walks of life gather around Manila COD department store. I was fortunate enough to experience memorable Christmases in Cubao back in the 80s. As a child who grew up in Metro Manila (Pasig to be exact), one of the highlights of my sister and I’s Christmas was our annual family “tradition” of going to Manila C.O.D Department store in Cubao to watch the moving Christmas display. I still remember how people will gather in front of the department store, some families would even come early just to make sure that they are able to find the best position to see the show from start to end. And I remember how my sister and I would excitedly gazed up as soon as the lights turn off and bright lights focus on the second level of the department store and the music and the narration starts to play. Our dad would carry us alternately on his shoulders so we can both have a chance to have a better view of the show. In my eyes, the bright and colourful Christmas lights and the life-sized moving mannequins that tells a heart-warming Christmas story was really magical. I can’t exactly recall the stories that I’ve seen but of course what will always excite me about the show is seeing Santa Claus as one of the characters in the mannequin show.
I am sure a lot of people of my age can relate to this story, before all the giant malls in Metro Manila became the holiday and shopping destinations, Cubao was the Christmas destination in Metro Manila. I remember how my dad and my mom would bring us to Ali Mall, Farmers Plaza and of course Manila C.O.D. after they receive their Christmas bonus or 13thMonth pay, after buying my sisters and I’s matching clothes for Christmas we’ll eat at Shakey’s Pizza (not very sure about the fast food restaurant) our final destination will be in front of Manila C.O.D.
If my memory serves me right, in the same year that C.O.D. closed, Greenhills Shopping Commercial Center became the new venue of the Christmas on display show. I was in my mid 20s then and I had the chance to see the show in Greenhills and it never felt the same when I was still watching it in Cubao.
Last November 23, the return of Christmas on Display at the Time Square Food Park in Cubao (Araneta Centre) was done with grand festivities, it must have been a nostalgic moment for people who (like me) grew up watching this show. The storyline of the Christmas display will revolve around a family that returns to the Philippines to visit and by revisiting their roots and traditions they realize that there is no place like home. Hence, this year’s theme of “Christmas Comes Home” is really a reflection of every Filipino who lives or works abroad and is always longing to celebrate Christmas with their love ones in the Philippines, as they say “walang tatalo sa Pasko sa Pinas” (nothing beats Christmas in the Philippines).
And if there’s one thing that I would like my children to experience is celebrating Christmas in our home country, I have a long list of things that I want them to see and experience during the Christmas season in the Philippines and I guess letting them see this Christmas on Display is another item that I will be adding to my list.