Travel in the Philippines
My first Christmas in the Philippines has been an inspirational, mind opening and refreshing holiday. I am an American expatriate living in the Philippines. My social interest in Christmas had waned over the years. This year I have found myself sending out "Merry Christmas" text messages on my phone to everyone I know. I also sent emails out to people I have not heard from in years. Now, I've always had the religious part of the holiday in my heart, but a short simple prayer has been the extent of my Christmas celebration for many of the 50 Christmas seasons that I have been a part of.
The reason for my renewed interest is the way Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines. Specifically in Bogo City in the Province of Cebu which is located in the Central Philippines. Now, they start celebrating Christmas in this country in September by playing Christmas music in the stores. That is a little early for me. The hot and humid days also were a small barrier for my getting into the season. Most of the Philippines officially celebrate nine days of Christmas with Mesa de Gallo. This is an early morning prayer ceremony. This translates to "mass of the rooster" or "mass at dawn." Depending on which part of the Philippines one is from. The church bells will start ringing between 3 and 4am to wake and remind Filipino it is time to come and pray.
There are adults walking down the street singing songs out of the joy in their heart. Children too walk down the street singing. Sometimes they are hoping you'll give them a few peso for their efforts but some just sing for the joy of singing. To express their happiness about the birth of Jesus.
There are decorations that are unique to the Philippines. The Philippines has many poor people. This results in the use of a interesting materials from which decorations are made. The use of banana leaf and other parts of plants that would normally be burned are put to use. In some cases, building some delightful decorations at a low price.
The Bogo City employees held a public Christmas party in a park at center of the city. They presented skits and sang Christmas carols in the offical language of the Philippines (Tagalog) but also in English and Cebuano (Cebuano is the primary language in Cebu Province and other parts of the Central Philippines.) The employees set off fireworks and wore elf customs as part of their presentation plus fancy dance moves that thrilled the citizens of Bogo City.
For pictures and additional information regarding Christmas or life in the Philippines: