Monday, December 30, 2013

X'MAS: More fun in the Philippines

I chose this title in keeping with the Department of Tourism's slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines" to promote and encourage visitors here in the country.

 During the Holiday season, this is the atmosphere or vibe, and traditions I noticed. I was born and raised in the capital, Manila City, by the way. Like the majority of the population, I am a Roman Catholic.
christmas philippines
one of the houses in the neighborhood


  • Filipinos are more giving, sharing, forgiving and jolly.
  • Many people like to go house to house Caroling. When they are given money they end with, "thank you, thank you, you are so kind, thank you!" but when the house owner says "pass" and don't give anything, the carolers say "thank you thank you, you are very miserly, thank you!" I just translated it from the vernacular.
  •  Families eat, celebrate and open gifts together during Christmas Eve.
  • On Christmas, people usually wear RED to signify BIRTHDAY.

  • On Christmas Day, godchildren go to their godparents to make mano (putting the elder's hand on their forehand) and for aguinaldo or Christmas presents.
  • People also go to church; there are Masses the whole day on Christmas.
  • Before the "most magical time of the year", shopping malls are overcrowded with frenzied shoppers looking for Christmas gifts. Also overcrowded is the popular Divisoria in Manila, well known for the cheap items ideal as stocking stuffers.
christmas tree
festive atmosphere in hotels, malls, restaurants, etc

Of course, there is no perfect scenario. Sadly, the thieves are very active during this season. It seems their materialistic nature of having buffet on their table or new stuff is very strong during this time. Advisable to be careful, alert, and avoid being wide-eyed/naive. Also don't look showy with jewelry . Beggars, and those who climb inside jeepneys asking for donations for their supposed "charities" are more visible too.

Also, many people like to spend so much during this time that only a few pesos might be left of their 13th month (or more) pay. Others have many debts incurred thru the New Year.

puto bumbong

  • When you go to Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo, ( the 9 daily masses in the early mornings starting on December 16, OR in the evening, if anticipated, starting on the 15th) you will notice the very popular Bibingka (yummy, my fave!) and Puto Bumbong sold in the sidewalks.

  • Some of the more symbolic food people prepare during Noche Buena (Christmas Eve feast) is Hamon and Queso de Bola. Also popular at the table are fruit salad, spaghetti, whole chicken, various viands, rice of course, cake and wine.

queso de bola
queso de bola

  • Parol (represents star of Bethlehem), Christmas lights, lanterns, Belen or Nativity Scene that can be in the form of cutout or figurines, Christmas tree with trimmings, posters of greetings, garlands and other ornaments that they hang up.
philippines church


Our Holiday season not only is unique but is long- starts at ber months (September 1) up to the Feast of the Epiphany or 3 Kings' Day (January 6). And in our family's  case until our Patron Saint's Fiesta in the last week of January.
Of course, we cannot forget that Christmas is CHRIST + MASS and it is to remind us of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We go to church and attend mass to commemorate and greet Him on His birthday, give thanks for the blessings of the year that's about to pass, and also other prayers.


Care to share your Christmas traditions? Please comment below!
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