Puerto Princesa, Philippines - Puerto Princesa, a highly-urbanized city, commenced its Christmas celebrations on Friday night with the lighting of a grand 135-foot Christmas tree at Balayong People's Park. The event attracted a mix of residents and tourists, marking the start of the holiday season in the city.
According to Philippines News Agency, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, speaking at the official lighting ceremony, explained that the Christmas tree's height increases annually, symbolizing the city's expanding economy and flourishing tourism industry. The tree, first erected in 2021, stood at 70 feet and grew to 110 feet in the following year. According to Bayron, the tree is anticipated to reach its maximum height of 150 feet next year, limited by its foundation's capacity.
The ceremony featured performances by eighteen choirs, serenading the attendees with Christmas carols. It also served as the first public appearance for the candidates of the Miss Puerto Princesa pageant. The evening's festivities concluded with a pyromusical display, adding to the celebratory atmosphere.
Bayron commented that the Christmas tree's lights symbolize the city's spirit, conveying messages of joy, peace, and unity during the holiday season. This event aligns with the City Tourism Department's ongoing efforts to enhance local tourism. One key strategy involves attracting foreign cruise ships to the city's ports.
Recent visits by large cruise ships underscore the city's growing appeal as a tourist destination. On Tuesday, the 965-foot MV Norwegian Jewel cruise ship docked in Puerto Princesa, bringing over 3,000 passengers and crew members. Additionally, in November, the city welcomed the Bahamas-registered MS Silver Whisper, known for catering to affluent vacationers, with 382 passengers.