Archive for November, 2008

There are a lot of things I won’t be having and seeing and experiencing this Christmas while here in the UK. Well, this is a Christian country (in the sense that it is not predominantly Buddhist or Muslim) so they do observe the holidays, but there are just some Filipino traditions that I’m sure I will be missing.

Carollers. I used to be a bit annoyed with people and even kids who went around our subdivision almost every night carolling but now, I kinda want to hear them again. The often off-key rendition of songs likeĀ  “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” or “tayo na giliw, magsalo na tayo, meron na tayong tinapay at keso” would sound grating to the ears if one hears them every time but for homesick OFWs, music can’t get any better than that.

Family. Even with the hard times, Filipino families still enjoy because they do their best to be together during Christmas and that is what is sorely missed by every OFW, this one included. On Christmas eve, during the Noche Buena, we will be calling our loved ones to wish them a Merry Christmas. For the meantime, phone calls will do but of course, there will always be that lingering, almost surreal ache in the heart for not being there with them.

Non-stop eating. The almost frantic pace of partying during Christmas in the Philippines ensures that one remains constantly full during the holidays. Even at home, our entire family will gorge on every imaginable dish and delicacy which are prepared in large quantities to last for weeks. I love being able to eat all the kinds of vegetables and native delicacies I want during this only time of the year when I need not feel guilty eating too much.

Noche Buena. This is not observed here in the UK but for Filipinos, this is the special time when all the members of the family gather around a feast fit to honour the King of kings, and to celebrate the joy of family.

Non-stop videoke singing. The videoke is a recent invention but Filipinos love singing and music in general so this magical invention that transforms the most timid into the most confident singer, has found its niche in Christmas tradition – the official preoccupation of anyone who is not involved in the actual preparation of the noche buena meal. While the cooks are busy in the kitchen, the rest of the family are ganging up on each other for the microphone and a turn to sing. I love that commotion.

A totally different mood altogether. Being a predominantly Christian nation, people in the Philippines just know that Christmas is all about the birth of the Saviour. The midnight mass continues to be observed and schools re-enact theĀ  nativity scene in their Christmas programs. I can’t say that Filipinos are all so free of the materialistic view of Christmas that is so prevalent nowadays, but I think they are still nearer the truth of the real reason for the season. Because of that, and all those enumerated here, I really miss Christmas in the Philippines.


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