Last night the children started to come to the house, with smiles on their faces, twinkling in their eyes, home made instruments in their hands, and Christmas (Pasko) Carols in their hearts and voices. (Instruments included two spoons, a wire circle on which beer and bottle caps were pierced served as a tambourine-like instrument, a can with plastic stretched and bound to the top by rubber bands served as a drum, two sticks beat together for rhythm, and some fruit or vegetable that was painted and contained seeds was their equivalent of a maraca.
Each group of children offering their favorite selection of Christmas (Pasko) music, sang in both Tagalog and in English. Some carolers even offer a happy dance while singing. You can’t help but believe that even for these poor children, there is still hope for the future. Despite their being born into a life of poverty, it is at this one time of the year that their hearts and minds focus on what they DO have to be THANKFUL for (family and life), as opposed to what they DON’T have! Thoughts turn to the Noche Buena, which is the meal that will be shared by the family on the midnight before Christmas. (Pasko).
In a country wherein most people do not have the “creature comforts” we enjoy and take for granted in the United States of America and other advanced countries of the world, in a country where hunger abounds, celebration of life takes on a whole new meaning when the family can enjoy at least ONE good meal together to celebrate the birth of Christ. You see, FOOD is the difference between rich and poor in other parts of the world.
After the family has Noche Buena, then retires for the night, when they wake up, conversation abounds as they remember the night, and the year before. Christmas Dinner is usually the same foods that are left over from the Noche Buena.
Remembering one Christmas past, I remember I was walking in San Dionisio, Pildera, a poor area near the International Airport (NAIA). It was night time, about 8 pm and I saw a small girl all alone. She said hello to me, I did likewise. I then asked her what she and her family were having for hapunan, Christmas Dinner? She said “rice”. I said, “No, I mean what are you having WITH the rice?” She then looked into my eyes and said, “no, just rice”. I shrunk and felt about three inches tall at that moment. My heart was truly saddened to hear this. I reached into my pocket and handed her a PHP 500 piso bill, and with tears in my eyes, I told her to take that to her mother (father had already died), and tell her the American said “Maligaya Pasko” (Merry Christmas). The look of smile and joy in her face instantly repaid me a thousand times over, and she said “salamat” (thank you), and asked to be excused. I happily told her, with tears in my eyes, yes, you better go so your mother can buy some special foods for you. With that she ran home, and I never saw her again. But I can never forget her either.
I have had other, memorable and similar experiences, but will not set them forth now. Maybe next years Christmas. This years memory was when I discovered that the family I am staying with had never heard “The Night Before Christmas”. The next day I went to an internet cafe and printed it out. We all sat around in the living room and enjoyed it as the eldest daughter read it aloud. Moments like that are, in themselves, treasures on which you can never place a price.
I have just learned they have never heard of the story or Movie, “A Christmas Carol”, and never even heard of Ebenezer Scrooge. So you guess what they will be watching tonight if I can find it on Youtube or elsewhere. he he
Anyway, this year I have made a video of some of the children singing Christmas Carols and will post them here when I return to the states for you to view.
If you have any personal experiences regarding the holidays in the Philippines, please feel free to post them here.
Maligaya Pasko (Merry Christmas)
God Bless and Mabuhay! (Long Life)
oooooooo – 0 – oooooo
Be sure to check out our Official Website at:
FEEDBACK: As always, your comments, questions and/or suggestions are invited and greatly appreciated! Also, Should you have a “Philippine Based or Related” story you would like covered, please feel free to contact us! (Priority will be given to disability-related stories and comments, but all are welcome.). Questions and comments regarding guide and/or Immigration petition assistance are also welcome. We are also interested in great Pilipino foods! If you have a favorite Carenderia or restaurant you think makes the greatest dish, or, why do you believe your favorite hotel or resort in the Philippines is worth sharing? Let us know about it and what makes it excel.
We are also always searching for host families in the Philippines, for our reporters/verifiers to stay (usually just 2 or 3 days) , this allows us to save money, help host families, and be neutral in reporting since it saves us from having any fiduciary interest or link to the location/s we are reporting.. Dont worry about the size of your house, or even if it is finished, we are adaptable. Even Bahay Kubo or Dampa, we have seen and experienced it all! (Any and all Host family contacts or identification is strictly confidential.)