PHNO HEADLINE NEWS TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2014

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN SYDNEY ENDS IN BANGS, BLOODSHED 

DEC 16 ---SYDNEY, Australia, DECEMBER 16, 2014 (INQUIRER) Agence France-Presse 9:20 AM | Tuesday -  – It ended with gunfire and bloodshed! Nearly 17 hours after a lone gunman unfurled an Islamic flag above a “MERRY CHRISTMAS” window sign and took customers and staff captive, the siege of a Sydney cafe ended early Tuesday with explosive bangs and flashes. Some remaining hostages fled, terrified with their arms flung skyward. Others were carried or stretchered out, as heavily armed police stormed into the Lindt cafe on Sydney’s Martin Place — home to the city’s financial center, state parliament and central bank. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Hanukkah 2014: When Does The Jewish Holiday Start, 5 Things You Need To Know 

DEC 16 ---Hanukkah begins at sundown on Dec. 16 and ends the evening of Dec. 24. On Tuesday evening, Jews will light their menorahs for the first night of Hanukkah. Also known as the Festival of Lights, the Jewish holiday begins at sundown on Dec. 16 and ends the evening of Dec. 24. The eight-day holiday celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C., when Jews led by the Maccabees revolted against their Greek-Syrian oppressors. Each night of the eight-day holiday is marked by giving gifts, eating latkes and lighting a candelabra, or menorah. While Hanukkah may be one of the best-known Jewish holidays, it's not the most important, nor does it bear much religious significance. In fact, the Hanukkah story isn't mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It's described in the Book of Maccabees, which is omitted from the Old Testament. READ FULL STORY...

ALSO: Open Pope mobile, no bulletproof sa Santo Papa
Pope Francis wants to hear “the cries of people” on the streets

DEC 17 ---Magiging “accessible” si Pope Francis sa nakatakda nitong pagbisita sa Pilipinas sa Enero 2015. Tiniyak ito ni Fr. David Concepcion, miyembro ng papal visit transpo committee, dalawang Pope mobile ang gagamitin kung saan isa sa Maynila at isa naman ay sa Tacloban. Mismong ang Santo Papa aniya ang humiling na dapat ay isang open mobile, hindi bullet-proof at walang aircon ang magiging sasakyan nito. Wika pa ni Fr. Concepcion, simbolo ito na bukas ang Simbahan para sa lahat. Nabatid na dalawang Pope mobiles ang inihanda. Isa ang gagamitin sa Maynila at isa sa Tacloban. Kung maaalala, maging sa kanyang Middle East trip ay isang open-top car ang sinakyan ng Mahal na Papa, bagay na ikinasakit sa ulo at labis na ikinabahala ng kanyang security. Sa Enero 15 hanggang 19 bibisita sa Pilipinas si Pope Francis at kabilang sa mga pupuntahan nito ang Luneta Park, Manila Cathedral, University of Sto. Tomas, MOA Arena, at Tacloban. THIS IS THE FULL TAGALOG REPORT... CONTINUE READING THE  ENGLISH REPORT FROM PHILSTAR.....

ALSO: Who, What do you wake up early for?
The true meaning of Simbang Gabi in the time of social media

DEC 16 ---In the article “Bishop Defends Youth Attendance in Simbang Gabi” published on Sunstar.com.ph, Archbishop Socrates Villegas supports the influx of young attendees. “Our youths are there in the church for Simbang Gabi because they know that in the church they are going to meet Jesus. And when you meet Jesus, you don’t meet Jesus alone. You meet Jesus with your friends, because it is only in living for others that we can truly live for God,” he says. He explains that the “new name of Jesus is Others.” According to him, going to masses should lead everyone closer to one another. When Filipinos attend the mass and do not meet a new friend, he says “Jesus would not be happy with your sacrifice.”  READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO EDITORIAL: A blessed time for Filipinos

DEC 15 ---As we celebrate Christmas this year, we will also be looking forward to the arrival of Pope Francis on January 15, 2015. Two previous popes have visited us in the Philippines – Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. Pope Francis will be visiting Leyte to meet with the survivors of super-typhoon Yolanda along with meeting with Asian clergy and saying Mass at the Luneta. Just as our Christmas traditions have been enriched by centuries of Spanish influence, Filipinos may identify strongly with Pope Francis of Argentina which too was under Spain for centuries. We just lived through typhoon Ruby that brought fearsome memories of super-typhoon Yolanda and now we look forward to these two blessed events – Christmas ten days from today and Pope Francis in 30 days. Truly this will be a special and a blessed season of peace and goodwill for all of us.READ FULL EDITORIAL FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN...

ALSO: Dawn masses held in yet-to-be-restored churches in Bohol  

DEC 16 ---Their churches may not be fully restored yet, but residents in Bohol province managed to observe the traditional Simbang Gabi (dawn Masses). In Tagbilaran City, the Simbang Gabi was held amid the rubble of the local church, GMA News TV's "Balita Pilipinas Ngayon" reported on Tuesday. Bohol was devastated by a magnitude-7.2 quake in October 2013. On the other hand, residents in Zamboanga City and Cagayan de Oro City showed up for the dawn Mass despite security concerns. Zamboanga City residents are still recovering from an attempted occupation by followers of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari. The Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition counting down the nine days to Christmas. —Joel Locsin/NB, GMA News THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: ‘The Spirit of Bethlehem’ at Riverbanks Center, Marikina City    

DEC 16 --PHOTO: Handpainted Filipino belen in resin MANILA, Philippines - A private collection of over 500 belens from all over the world finds a home at one-stop shopping and tourism destination Riverbanks Center in Marikina City to keep the Christmas spirit aglow in people’s hearts. After having kept in her house in Quezon City and in the former building of DepEd in Marikina, belen collection owner Carmen Abaya-Carlos chose to open the museum at Riverbanks Center so the collection can be viewed by more people who come to the commercial complex for its many unique attractions. The museum boasts numerous pieces from here and abroad, collected through decades of devotion to the Infant Jesus and the Holy Spirit, with friends and family also adding to the Carlos collection with gifts. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Nightmare before Christmas in Sydney ends in bangs, bloodshed


Messages are left on flowers at a floral memorial at the scene of a dramatic siege which left two hostages dead, as people in Sydney expressed shock and grief that something like this could happen in their easy-going city, in Sydney on December 16, 2014. Two hostages and an extremist Iranian-born gunman were killed in a siege that ended when armed police stormed a central Sydney cafe, as a shocked Australia struggled to come to terms with the tragedy. AFP

SYDNEY, Australia, DECEMBER 16, 2014 (INQUIRER) Agence France-Presse 9:20 AM | Tuesday -  – It ended with gunfire and bloodshed!

Nearly 17 hours after a lone gunman unfurled an Islamic flag above a “MERRY CHRISTMAS” window sign and took customers and staff captive, the siege of a Sydney cafe ended early Tuesday with explosive bangs and flashes.

Some remaining hostages fled, terrified with their arms flung skyward.

Others were carried or stretchered out, as heavily armed police stormed into the Lindt cafe on Sydney’s Martin Place — home to the city’s financial center, state parliament and central bank.

Among them a woman carried out of the building by rescuers, her arms around their shoulders and a trickle of blood above a shoe-less foot. Another was stretchered away, a bloodied foot also bare.

“They are very brave people who in many cases were just buying a cup of coffee and they got caught up in this dreadful affair,” said state police commissioner Andrew Scipione.

A man dressed in a business suit and a tie watched from a doorway as a series of loud bangs and flashes went off as police readied to move in.

“It sounded like a chain of firecrackers on the scale of thunder,” wrote Sydney Morning Herald reporter James Robertson.

“The sound ricocheted throughout the tall buildings around the area… and hostages started pouring out of the building,” said ABC reporter Siobhan Heanue.

At the end of the operation, three people had been killed, including the hostage-taker, identified in the media as an Iranian-born “cleric” called Man Haron Monis. Of the 17 hostages, only six were left uninjured.

“Unbelievably overnight we have lost some of our own in an attack we never thought we would see here in our city,” said New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.

“The events that we have seen have shaken us, but they do not dampen our resolve.”

The cafe is one of the most popular on a thoroughfare that is thronged at this time of year with festive shoppers, in addition to everyday office crowds and tourists.

But on Monday, the pre-Christmas nightmare played out inside.

“It’s kind of shocking for everyone,” said local worker Goldie Jamshidi near the chocolate-themed cafe on Monday.

“I came to work and then I found out that this incident had happened,” she said.

The government in September raised its terror threat level and police conducted raids across the country, as authorities fretted that dozens of Australians who have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria could return home radicalized and inflict “lone wolf” attacks.

While the motives behind the siege were not known, police said the gunman acted alone.

In the days and weeks before Christmas, Sydney’s shopping district usually takes on an extra vigor as people buy presents for the festive season. Martin Place, with its huge Christmas tree, is a magnet for families.


FROM THE INT'L BUSINESS TIMES

Hanukkah 2014: When Does The Jewish Holiday Start, 5 Things You Need To Know By Zoe Mintz @ZoeMintz z.mintz@ibtimes.com on December 15 2014 2:43 PM



Hanukkah begins at sundown on Dec. 16 and ends the evening of Dec. 24. Flickr
On Tuesday evening, Jews will light their menorahs for the first night of Hanukkah. Also known as the Festival of Lights, the Jewish holiday begins at sundown on Dec. 16 and ends the evening of Dec. 24. The eight-day holiday celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C., when Jews led by the Maccabees revolted against their Greek-Syrian oppressors.

Each night of the eight-day holiday is marked by giving gifts, eating latkes and lighting a candelabra, or menorah. While Hanukkah may be one of the best-known Jewish holidays, it's not the most important, nor does it bear much religious significance. In fact, the Hanukkah story isn't mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It's described in the Book of Maccabees, which is omitted from the Old Testament.

In the United States and other Western nations, however, Hanukkah becomes a “Jewish Christmas” of sorts. According to a 2010 study, “The importance of Hanukkah among American Jews is driven by its proximity (in the time dimension) to Christmas,” Ran Abramitzky, Liran Einav and Oren Rigbi wrote in the study published in the Economic Journal. “Many American Jews use Hanukkah as a way to provide their children with an exciting alternative.”

But in Israel, “it’s a holiday, but it’s not so special,” Einav told the Washington Post in a 2011 interview. Schools are let out during the holiday and there are tons of festivals and concerts, but holiday shopping isn't the main focus.

For those not familiar with the Festival of Lights, below are five answers to common questions surrounding the popular Jewish holiday:

What’s the Hanukkah story?

The Hanukkah story celebrates two events. The first describes how a small army of Jews, led by the Maccabee brothers, defeated the Seleucid Greco-Syrian Empire in Jerusalem. At the time, the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes outlawed the Jewish religion, desecrated the Second Temple and made Jews sacrifice pigs -- a non-kosher animal -- on its altar.

After the Maccabees defeated the Greeks, they rededicated the Second Temple. To do so, they needed to light the menorah -- a candelabra inside the temple that was part of daily Temple service -- each night. The Maccabees were able to do so with a small drop of oil that lasted for eight nights. The event is considered a miracle since it gave the Maccabees enough time to find a fresh batch of oil.

Common rituals?

Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which can fall anywhere between Nov. 27 and Dec. 26.

Each night, for eight nights, Jews light a branch of a menorah. The middle and tallest branch of the candelabra houses the shamash (helper candle) that's used to light the other candles. Each night, a new candle is placed from right to left. They are lit from left to right. Three blessings are said during this time. Jews are told to place the menorah in the front windows of their homes to publicize the Hanukkah miracle.

Gift-giving has become associated with Hanukkah. This tradition is believed to stem from the influence of Christmas. Usually presents are given by parents to their children. “Gelt,” or small amounts of money, are the only traditional gift associated with the holiday.

What’s a dreidel?

Dreidels, or square tops, is a common game children play during Hanukkah. The four-sided top is marked with one of the four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin. The letters stand for the Hebrew phrase, "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," a great miracle happened there.

Usually kids begin with an equal number of pennies, nuts, chocolate chips, raisins or matchsticks. Each participant gets a chance at spinning the dreidel. Depending on which letter the top falls on, the person receives a certain number of pieces from the pot.

The dreidel gambling game stems from the Greek-Syrian rule when Jews who wanted to study the Torah (Hebrew Bible) were prevented from doing so. Whenever a soldier walked by they would play with dreidels to conceal their “illegal” activity.

What’s to eat?

Since the Hanukkah story focuses on a small drop of oil, fried foods are common dishes served during the holiday. Latkes, also known as potato pancakes, are a popular item usually accompanied by apple sauce or sour cream. Deep-fried doughnuts, known as sufganiyot, are another holiday favorite among Sephardic, Greek and Persian Jews.

Hanukkah or Chanukah?

There are 16 different spelling variations for the Jewish holiday. The main reason stems from the word itself. Since Hanukkah -- which literally means “dedication” -- is a Hebrew word, there's not one set way to transliterate it into English. Hanukkah and Chanukah are the two most popular spellings. Both are both correct, however the one that begins with the “H” is more widely used since the “ch” sound might confuse English speakers.



SCREENGRAB OF NEWS VIDEO; DOES HANNUKKAH WANTS TO BE CHRISTMAS?


FROM PHILSTAR --PILIPINO NGAYON (FILIPINO TODAY)

Open Pope mobile, no bulletproof sa Santo Papa Ni Doris Franche-Borja (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated December 17, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines – Magiging “accessible” si Pope Francis sa nakatakda nitong pagbisita sa Pilipinas sa Enero 2015.

Tiniyak ito ni Fr. David Concepcion, miyembro ng papal visit transpo committee, dalawang Pope mobile ang gagamitin kung saan isa sa Maynila at isa naman ay sa Tacloban.

Mismong ang Santo Papa aniya ang humiling na dapat ay isang open mobile, hindi bullet-proof at walang aircon ang magiging sasakyan nito.

Wika pa ni Fr. Concepcion, simbolo ito na bukas ang Simbahan para sa lahat.

Nabatid na dalawang Pope mobiles ang inihanda. Isa ang gagamitin sa Maynila at isa sa Tacloban. Kung maaalala, maging sa kanyang Middle East trip ay isang open-top car ang sinakyan ng Mahal na Papa, bagay na ikinasakit sa ulo at labis na ikinabahala ng kanyang security.

Sa Enero 15 hanggang 19 bibisita sa Pilipinas si Pope Francis at kabilang sa mga pupuntahan nito ang Luneta Park, Manila Cathedral, University of Sto. Tomas, MOA Arena, at Tacloban.

ENGLISH NEWS:

FROM PHILSTAR

Francis' popemobile in PH: Open, not bulletproof


"AT MY AGE, I DO NOT HAVE MUCH TO LOSE" ---Pope Francis greets crowd of faithful from the Popemobile in downtown Rio de Janeiro EARLIER PHOTO FROM REUTERS

No bulletproof popemobile for Francis By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 17, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Pope Francis wants to hear “the cries of people” on the streets and will be using two open and non-bulletproof popemobiles when he visits the country in January.

This is to make him accessible to Filipinos, a church official explained yesterday.

Francis himself requested that the popemobiles should be vulnerable, open and accessible because these traits represent the Catholic Church, according to Fr. David Concepcion, executive secretary of the Papal Visit Committee on Transportation.

“It will be open so he would be able to hear the cries of the people. It will be a reminder to us that the church listens to those on the streets,” Concepcion said.

“It will have no air condition. Whatever the people (attending the papal events) are feeling, he will also feel. So if it will rain and the people will get wet, he will also get wet,” he added.

One popemobile will be used in Manila, while the other car would be sent to Tacloban City, which the pontiff will also visit.

“If there would only be one popemobile there would not be enough time to transport it from Manila to Tacloban,” Concepcion explained.

Jess Anthony Yu, Presidential Communications Operations Office’s undersecretary for legislative, policy and legal affairs, said the use of non-bulletproof cars for the papal visit “would not be a security nightmare because the government is considering the popemobile that the pope would be using.”

“We are also not only focusing on the popemobile but also on the route that he would be passing through. We are considering everything,” he added.

Malacańang will be tapping the Presidential Security Group, Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure the security of the pontiff. They also coordinated with the Swiss Guards, the personal security force of the pope.

Since Pasay will be the first city to receive Pope Francis when he arrives at the Villamor Airbase, the local government of Pasay has formed a task force to help ensure peace and order during the papal visit.

Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto said the task force is composed of the core group of the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

The Department of Public Works and Highways, for its part, will install physical barricades in the middle of the street to separate the crowd from the road space for the popemobile.

“There is only one way to the airport, so if the streets would be crowded, he might not be able to pass. Half of the road would be given to the people and we are praying that they would not occupy the other half of the road,” said Monsignor Bernie Pantin, person-in-charge of the Tacloban leg of the papal visit.

Asked if there would be a helicopter on standby at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City in case people block the road and prevent the pope from proceeding, Yu said “we are considering that but for security reasons we could not tell.”

‘Papal visit cause of excitement’

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said Pope Francis’ arrival in a few weeks has given Filipinos another reason to be excited about Christmas this year.

This is the gist of Villegas’ Simbang Gabi message yesterday. With Persues Echeminada, Eva Visperas


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Who, What do you wake up early for?
The true meaning of Simbang Gabi in the time of social media -
by Nickky Faustine De Guzman December 14, 2014 Share this:

At ungodly hours of the night, when the rest of the world is still in slumber, traditional Filipino families gather together, wake up before the roosters signal another day, to go to church for an early mass. Our traditional celebration of Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo starts on Dec.16, nine days before the birth of Jesus Christ or Christmas day.

Simbang Gabi traces its roots in 1587 in Mexico when Fray Diego de Soria asked for the petition of the pope to conduct Christmas masses outdoors. The church could not hold every churchgoer.

The same happens nowadays, at least in Metro Manila, where churches could no longer accommodate its visitors. But noticeably, they often come as young lovers or as barkada. Some oldies are too weary to brace the cold December nights or too weak to get up. While a traditional Misa de Gallo usually calls for your best dress, the hippies opt skimpy shorts, sleeveless, and slippers. Others even use Misa de Gallo as an excuse to meet up with friends or a date.

In the article “Bishop Defends Youth Attendance in Simbang Gabi” published on Sunstar.com.ph, Archbishop Socrates Villegas supports the influx of young attendees.

“Our youths are there in the church for Simbang Gabi because they know that in the church they are going to meet Jesus. And when you meet Jesus, you don’t meet Jesus alone. You meet Jesus with your friends, because it is only in living for others that we can truly live for God,” he says.

He explains that the “new name of Jesus is Others.” According to him, going to masses should lead everyone closer to one another. When Filipinos attend the mass and do not meet a new friend, he says “Jesus would not be happy with your sacrifice.”

Usually, at the end of every mass, traditional delicacies like puto bumbong and bibingka await the goers. Albeit the seemingly becoming less solemn and more commercialized tradition, at least, a lot of Pinoys most especially the youth still bother to go to church and commemorate the birth of Christ—physically.

When Pope Benedict XVI opened his Twitter account, the rest of the world knew that the Church was heeding the signs of the times. Nowadays, masses are done online or inside shopping malls. Even wake ceremonies are but a few online clicks away. It comes as a no surprise (or is it?), that even Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo has gone online. Our religious traditions have taken the Internet world to accommodate the Catholics around the globe and perhaps, the lazy asses, too? The latest census says there are 2.2 million overseas Filipino workers around the world.

Come to think of it, even if the one of the main reasons for Pinoys going to Misa de Gallo is to complete the nine ceremonies for a wish granted—I have a cousin who completed Simbang Gabi to pray for his nursing board exam. Other Filipinos do this, too: To wish for a good health, a prosperous year, a love life, or a booming career—isn’t it better that many still take the time to set their alarm at 3 a.m. and go to church, than not bother at all?

While the church is quick to say that there’s “no magic” involved in Simbang Gabi, it says that blessings do not depend whether you’ve completed the nine-day novena or not, but what’s more important is one’s disposition in receiving God’s bounty.

So whether you find it annoying that most of the churchgoers are young and rowdy, at least, they opt to go to church to pray in the flesh than do it virtually.


EDITORIAL FROM THE MANILA BBULLETIIN

A blessed time for Filipinos December 15, 2014 Share this: I

It’s ten days before Christmas and a month before the arrival of Pope Francis – two closely related events dear to the hearts of Filipinos.

Tomorrow, before dawn, the centuries-old tradition of the Simbang Gabi will fill the nation’s churches for the first of nine Masses, that will culminate in the Chistmas Eve Mass. It is a tradition we share with Mexico, where it started in 1587.

In those early years of the faith in the Philippines, families carried lanterns to light their way to church. The lowly lantern, the parol, edtoo has become part of the Filipino Christmas tradition. In San Fernando, Pampanga, the Christmas parol has become the center of an annual festival with the city’s barangays competing with giant lanterns with multi-colored dancing lights mounted on trucks parading around the city. Each town in the country has its own version of the Christmas parol, which is basically a five-pointed star made from bamboo and translucent paper lighted with a candle or electric bulb.

The Belen is the center of the Christmas season in Tarlac. The Nativity scene is laid out in many homes all over the country, along with other symbols of the season – the Christmas tree in its various versions – in seashells, recycled materials such as bottles and old newspapers, and, of course, real pine trees. There will be concerts, caroling, gift-giving, family reunions and noche buena.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, we will also be looking forward to the arrival of Pope Francis on January 15, 2015. Two previous popes have visited us in the Philippines – Pope Paul VI in 1970 and Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995. Pope Francis will be visiting Leyte to meet with the survivors of super-typhoon Yolanda along with meeting with Asian clergy and saying Mass at the Luneta. Just as our Christmas traditions have been enriched by centuries of Spanish influence, Filipinos may identify strongly with Pope Francis of Argentina which too was under Spain for centuries.

We just lived through typhoon Ruby that brought fearsome memories of super-typhoon Yolanda and now we look forward to these two blessed events – Christmas ten days from today and Pope Francis in 30 days. Truly this will be a special and a blessed season of peace and goodwill for all of us.


FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

Dawn masses held in yet-to-be-restored churches in Bohol
December 16, 2014 8:07pm 0 0 0 1

heir churches may not be fully restored yet, but residents in Bohol province managed to observe the traditional Simbang Gabi (dawn Masses).

In Tagbilaran City, the Simbang Gabi was held amid the rubble of the local church, GMA News TV's "Balita Pilipinas Ngayon" reported on Tuesday.

Bohol was devastated by a magnitude-7.2 quake in October 2013.

On the other hand, residents in Zamboanga City and Cagayan de Oro City showed up for the dawn Mass despite security concerns.

Zamboanga City residents are still recovering from an attempted occupation by followers of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari.

The Simbang Gabi is a Filipino tradition counting down the nine days to Christmas. —Joel Locsin/NB, GMA News


FROM PHILSTAR

‘The Spirit of Bethlehem’ at Riverbanks Center (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 16, 2014 - 12:00am 0 3 googleplus0 0


Handpainted Filipino belen in resin

MANILA, Philippines - A private collection of over 500 belens from all over the world finds a home at one-stop shopping and tourism destination Riverbanks Center in Marikina City to keep the Christmas spirit aglow in people’s hearts.

After having kept in her house in Quezon City and in the former building of DepEd in Marikina, belen collection owner Carmen Abaya-Carlos chose to open the museum at Riverbanks Center so the collection can be viewed by more people who come to the commercial complex for its many unique attractions.

The museum boasts numerous pieces from here and abroad, collected through decades of devotion to the Infant Jesus and the Holy Spirit, with friends and family also adding to the Carlos collection with gifts.

Among those on display is Carmen Abaya-Carlos’ very first belen bought in 1952 at a religious trade store. Among the most precious are the numerous Lladros, which her late husband handcarried from trips abroad, and the Goebells from Germany.

Several belens from other countries like Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Africa, Israel, and the different regions in the Philippines reflect the culture in their places of origin.

There’s a lovely metal plate belen painted by the late President Cory Aquino.

There are priceless belens handcrafted by family members like Carmen’s sister-in-law Maggie Carlos, who handpainted a Nativity scene in stone or big pebbles. Another came from her good friend Aleli Vengua, a collector of miniatures, who passed away in 2004.

Vengua has an awesome collection of tiny but real-looking replicas of things that can be found in a European mansion. The Museum of Miniatures is a collection of shadow boxes filled with Lilliputian pieces of 1:1 scale.

The Spirit of Bethlehem and The Museum of Miniatures are located at the 2nd level of the E-com Building, Riverbanks Center, Marikina City. For more information, visit www.riverbankscenter.com or call 570-0701 local 332 or 334.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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