MUCH LIKE Makati’s main thoroughfares which are all decked out for Christmas in a distinctly Filipino fashion — from the capiz shell (windowpane oyster) lights decorating the trees along Ayala Avenue to Christmas lights done in the patterns of native woven fabrics like inabel and Yakan — Ayala Malls are similarly celebrating this Christmas with a decidedly Filipino flavor as they host “TienDA sa Ayala Malls,” a series of two-day weekend markets bringing the products of local farmers and fisherfolk to several Ayala Malls in the country.

“This is a joint project with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and we’re so happy they chose the Ayala Malls as the venue to bring the farmers and their produce closer to the people of Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao. We’re so excited,” Maria Rowena Manhit-Tomeldan, head of the Ayala Malls Group, told BusinessWorld during the launch on Nov. 9 at Park Terraces in Makati City.

TienDA is the agriculture department’s version of a farmers market where they bring local farmers and fisherfolk together in one venue so they can “directly sell their produce and for consumers to be able to access these products at its farm gate price,” said the DA Web site.

“The project seeks to eliminate unnecessary layers of middlemen in the supply chain, hence allowing our farmers and fisherfolks to command fair and reasonable prices for their produce,” Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said during the launch. “This will also help us assess and analyze the demand for agriculture and fisheries products in the different parts of the country.”

On Nov. 18-19, TienDA will be held at the Abreeza mall in Davao City, followed by the Ayala Center Cebu on Nov. 25-26, UP Town Center on Dec. 2-3, Alabang Town Center on Dec. 9-10, Ayala Malls The 30th on Dec. 16-17, and Solenad on Jan. 18-21.

“The number of farmers and fisherfolks would vary per region as we invite those who come from the same region as the venue of the market,” Carolyn C. Castro, OIC director of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) of DA told BusinessWorld during launch.

While there are as yet no concrete plans to make it a regular weekend market — Ms. Manhit-Tomeldan said they would love to make TienDA a regular thing — Ms. Castro said they are treating the project as a pilot for other projects they can do in the same vein.

“In a way, this is our way of piloting so we’ll know how to go about it,” she said.

Aside from TienDA, Ayala Malls are also celebrating Christmas online by putting up the Ayala Malls Christmas Catalog on the e-commerce site ZALORA. The catalog contains “a comprehensive list and inventory” to help customers with their gift ideas, according to a company press release.

For those making a quick trip to the mall to pick up takeout or other stuff for Christmas, the malls will offer several special parking slots for a limited time of 30 minutes.

Ayala Malls will also be presenting several musical performance including I Got Stung, a musical performance by the Steps Dance Studio inspired by the music of Sting. The performance will tour select Ayala Malls starting Nov. 26 and will include special guests such as Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, and Gian Magdangal.

Similarly, The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra will also be touring several Ayala Malls starting Nov. 11 where they will play the winning pieces they performed at the Summa Cum Laude Festival in Vienna, Austria where they won second place in the strings category.

These performances are only some of the events slated for the holidays as Ayala Malls is committed to “spreading good cheer,” said a press release.

For more information on the malls’ holiday plans, visit its Facebook page at — Zsarlene B. Chua