Myrna Aquitana_LighthouseNBC Universal, the “entertainment capital of LA,” welcomed LA Mayor Eric Garcetti last Thursday, December 4th as he kicked off the lighting of the very first “Grinchmas” tree.

In his message, Mayor Garcetti spoke on behalf of LA tourism’s growth and that the city’s goal of “ attaining 50 million visitors by the year 2020. He also credits NBC Universal as “one of the most popular destinations in LA and the singular factor delivering half of that tourism increase.”

Further, Mayor Garcetti said “ I’m working hard to protect and promote LA’s creative and tourism sectors because they’re essential to our economy and our city’s character/”

The evening’s ceremony was held at Universal’s grand piazza at the heart of the theme park, where the lighting of the towering, whimsical “Grinchmas” tree spiraled above to 60 feet. Featured along with Mayor Garcetti were: the Grinch and his sidekick dog, Max, Hollywood TV stars: Yvettte Nicole Brown (“Community,”“Family Guy,”),  Alexa PenaVega (“Nashvile,”“Spy Kids”) and Carlos PenaVega (“The Penguins of Madagascar,: “Big Time Rush”).   Perforning along with the TV stars were the energetic Martha May “Whovier” and the “Who Dolls.”

“Grinchmas” runs weekends on December 6-7 and 13-14, then continues daily from Friday, December 19, 2014 through Saturday, January 3, 2015.,

In time for the holidays, this author’s media colleague, Lydia Solis and I were both impressed in watching a rarely seen creative film called “In Nomine Matris” (In the name of the mother). This riveting film presented by Hubo Productions, Inc., celebrated the role of women through the intricacies of the Spanish flamenco dance. The masterful performance of Mercedes Lagdameo ( played with passion by Clara Ramona) was captivating. The musical score by Bob Aves portrayed the fusion of Spanish & Kundiman music symboliic of our Spanish heritage artistically blended itself throughout the film. The dramatic and emotional portrayal of both Liza DIno, who played Mara Bonifacio Advento, a dance protege who was pursuing to be the principal dancer in a dance tour company was intertwined with veteran thespian Tami Monsod’s character as Ava Bonifacio, mother of the ambitious Mara..

The superb portrayal of Daniel by TV actor Biboy Ramirez was also noticeable as the brother to Italy-trained opera singer, Al Gatmaitan, who played the boyrfriend of Mara and son of Mercedes Lagdameo.

As a rare film concept, writer-director Will Fredo’s laborious risk became an astounding, artful masterpiece uncommon in today’s film industry. This independent film has the capacity to win international film festival awards.

Finally, Sapphire FIlms & Concepts’ holiday biographical film presentation on the story of “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” produced by HPI Synergy Group and Wings Entertainment and directed by Francis Villacorta, was dramatically played by actors Rocco Nacino as “Pedro Calungsod,” Christian Vasquez as Fr. Diego de San Vittores, Rolland Correa as the Maha’Lahi Chammoro Chieftain, Jestoni Alarcon as Father Juan de Sta. Cruz and Ryan EIgenmann as Choco.. This film was the formal entry to the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival on December, 2013.

As we all have learned, Pedro Calungsod was the second and recently Filipino canonized saint after Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. He was a Cebu-born, 14-year old attendant who accompanied the Jesuit priests in their mission to the Ladrones Islands (formerly known as “Isles of Thieves” which is currently Guam) to preach and teach Christianity to the Chamorros in 1668.

Their mission came to an end when Chamorro’s Chieftain Maha’Lahi tried to kill Father Diego, but Pedro Calungsod protected his mentor and he was killed instead.

As Filipinos, most of us are looking forward to the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus on Christmas. Let us celebrate this day to be thankful to HIM for blessing us with peace, harnomy and goodwill to all mankind. Wishing you all a blessed CHRISTMAS!