Let the season of hope begin

Published November 1, 2020, 2:33 PM

by AA Patawaran

Light up the Christmas tree and gather moments while you may

What’s key now is to make milestones of every possible moment. 

One such moment was the reopening of the iconic lobby of The Peninsula Manila on Sunday, one day before the ceremonial opening with the hotel’s general manager Masahisa Oba lighting up the 45-foot Christmas tree with Berna Romulo Puyat, Department of Tourism secretary, as his guest of honor.

WELCOME BACK These gilded doors are now open to welcome old and new guests

The Lobby on opening day was full and I’d like to think they all showed up not so much for hope, although it sure was on the menu, as it was for memories. Also, it was an occasion because, while other hotels had opened one way or another, their F&B outlets or their rooms, shortly after Metro Manila eased into GCQ, like the hotel next door Discovery Primea, the Peninsula Manila had remained completely closed for almost eight months.

When I went to dinner at The Lobby on Monday on the GM’s invitation, along with the hotel’s director of communication Mariano Garchitorena’s, it was as if the pandemic never happened. It was an event at once celebratory and melancholy with the old quartet or quintet playing old-fashioned Yuletide carols from their usual spot on the mezzanine, the giant Christmas tree lit up in traditional red, green, and gold, and the hotel mascot dressed, enmasked, as Santa Claus.

AIN’T IT GRAND The Peninsula’s grand hotel lobby is bedecked with an army of angels and a giant Christmas tree

There were only a few of us at the GM’s two tables, but The Lobby was open to the public and among those I spotted were Mario Katigbak and his Hermès and Tiffany & Co. team, including Stephanie T. Chong and Arribelle Ong. Also there were acclaimed soprano Rachel Gerodias and her husband, Korean baritone Byeong In Park, and, later, during our post-dinner drinks, as we gathered around as though roasting chestnuts on an open fire, arrived the Christmas icon Jose Mari Chan and his family. 

In fact, the reopening marked more occasions other than the Christmas tree lighting, a holiday tradition and message of hope and peace that has been upheld since 1976, when it was first lit by George Fraschina, the Peninsula Manila’s first general manager. Through coups, natural calamities, national crises, and now Covid-19, the tree has been a reflection of what’s good in the world and everyone’s hopes for all the good things tomorrow might bring.


After a hiatus of nearly eight months, as the Peninsula reawakens by first opening its lobby restaurant, it sets into motion yet again a campaign it calls Peninsula Love, a show of deep commitment to the National Capital Region, which it has called home for 44 years. 

At its core, the initiative is a charitable meal donation program designed in partnership with the food bank Rise Against Hunger and the lobby’s many guests to assist vulnerable and underserved communities, those most severely affected by the ongoing crisis. Until the end of the year, for every order of arroz caldo or pancit luglug at The Lobby, The Peninsula Manila will “Spread Love” with its one-for-one meal donation to communities in need, particularly in Caloocan, Muntinlupa, and Taguig.

Peninsula Love has an interactive segment in which guests can participate on the hotel’s Instagram and Facebook feeds. 

Berna Peninsula
A SIGN OF GOOD THINGS TO COME DOT Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat enjoys the Peninsula Manila’s trademark favorite halo-halo, which is now (again!) available at the lobby.

“On Sept. 14, we celebrated the hotel’s 44th anniversary and, if you were to ask anyone in the city what to them is the most iconic space of the hotel, they would all agree that it’s The Lobby,” says Oba. “Our Lobby has hosted countless visitors, ranging from newlyweds, couples, families, TV stars, Hollywood elite and musicians, and heads of state and crowned heads, celebrating many momentous events in their lives throughout our 44-year history. They have also played a significant role in celebrating the culture of the city and enriching the lives of its residents. The Peninsula Love campaign is our way of giving back to our community that has stood by our side all this time.”

The interactive segment of the campaign has a four-week run, from Nov. 2 to 30, with a beneficiary chosen from guest nominations each week, such as a medical frontliner on week one (Nov. 2 to 8), who will be gifted with a Peninsula Love Cake. Week two (Nov. 9 to 15) will be dedicated to moms and dads who have stayed home to take care of their families and the chosen stay-at-home parent will enjoy one 500 ml Peninsula Love Batched Bottled Cocktail. The gifts for weeks one and two may be collected at the Peninsula Boutique. On week three (Nov. 16 to 22), a Peninsula Love Basket will be sent to a nominated children’s charity, in thanksgiving for their provision of a healthy and safe environment for young Filipino children. Finally, on week four (Nov. 23 to 30), guests will be encouraged to share their favorite memory of The Lobby. Guests can tag a friend and comment on the week’s contest post on the hotel’s social feeds for a chance to win the grand prize—a three-course Peninsula Love dinner for two persons at The Lobby.  Check out the hotel’s social media accounts for more details.


Also announced at last Monday’s official opening of the lobby was the launch of yet another campaign, “Save Energy for the Philippines,” as part of the hotel’s efforts to help the Philippine hospitality industry get back on its feet by exploring as many ways as possible to save on energy costs. As it opened last Monday, the hotel staff wore this initiative on their sleeves, in their new “Cool Business” attire uniforms, custommade white polo shirts for both men and women. The Peninsula Manila is the first international luxury hotel in Manila to have ever done so.

LIKE A WARM EMBRACE It’s time for old favorites arroz caldo and pancit luglog

The shirts, of course, are only symbolic of a deeper commitment to reduce energy consumption. Over the past three years, while making sure that lighting quality will not adversely affect guest experience, the hotel has replaced more than 1,000 halogen and incandescent guest room lamps with LED lights, reducing the energy demand by 60 percent and in turn generating an estimated annual saving of P800,000 in electricity costs, as well as 538.27 GJ of energy, equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of nearly 750 Philippine households. 

The long-term goal of “Save Energy for the Philippines” is to help pave a more sustainable path to the future not only for The Peninsula Manila but for the entire hotel industry or maybe even for the entire country.

It’s beginning to feel like Christmas, the season of hope. I think I’m going to have my Peninsula halo halo now. peninsula.com