Friday, February 02, 2007

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006

Written in: Poblacion, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, PHILIPPINES
Composition: Impromptu, writing something a month after the fact. Helped by some notes. Edited and re-edited again.
Previous Post: A Feeling of Community

For the past nine years, I have been celebrating Christmas in Canada - missing out in celebrating Pasko. Now, "Pasko", directly translated, means "Christmas". They are however, two completely different things.

You see, you celebrate Pasko if you're in the Philippines, and you celebrate Christmas if you're in North America. Technically the event being commemorated, and the set date, are one and the same. However, it is in the celebrations, traditions, values, and dare I say it, beliefs that make Pasko so unlike western Christmas.

For Filipinos, the celebrations for Pasko begin well before Christmas day itself on the 16th of December. This is the beginning of the 9 day Simbang Gabi or Misa De Gallo.
I remember attending these masses at Tumana's Barangay Chapel - only a few houses away from where we used to live.
I remember going, not always with my parents but, with whomever I felt like tagging along with. Sometimes I'd go with my cousin and neighbour at the time, Jojo. Sometimes with my aunts and uncles. Friends. Anyone. It's as much a social thing as it is for Christmas, really.
I remember not always having the puto bumbong available through the vendors just outside the chapel. But in the few times I did sample this unique variation of sweet rice dessert, I liked it a lot.
I remember noticing with envy the lovely parols and the other decorations my neighbours would put up. Dad wasn't much of a fan of seasonal decorations, so we would put up only the barest minimum - a stark contrast to the mishmash of western and traditional Filipino decors everyone would put up.
I remember, when I was much much younger, caroling house by house around our neighbourhoods and raking in what I considered to be good pocket money at the time.
And I especially remember, making mano (ask for a blessing) to my ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers)so I could receive my pamasko (gift or cash gratuity) - EVERY kids' source of spending money for Pasko.

I remembered all these during Christmas and got that corny sentimental feeling.

Though I was unable to re-do everything I used to do as a kid during Christmas (I left when I was 15, still a kid and able to enjoy Pasko as a kid should) this Christmas was still the best Christmas I've had in 9 years.

Ooops! I meant to say Pasko.

Christmas Eve Eve in Tumana always begins in Aunt Sofia's (Tita 'Ofie') place for Ate Jelly's birthday. She currently resides in Quezon City with her family, but Tita Sofie always makes it a point to have Ate Jelly's birthday in her house.

Special occasions like this always turns into a family reunion of sorts for the Family.

Later in the night, we continued the Noche Buena in my Grandparents' place.

Everyone woke up rather late, having already met Christmas day during the Noche Buena. Later in the night however, the celebration continued when all the boys, first cousins through paternal grandfather's lineage, decided to have an inuman.

Our spirit of choice was the Fundador left over from the Barangay Hall Staff Party.
Now at first glance, we're just a group of relatives having a drink and catching up - the younger generation's reunion. But, it was more than that. Beyond being first cousins, we were all quite close childhood friends. We talked about our lives, where we were, future plans, families (if any). And of course, all the other Paskos we had in the past.
A reunion.
A trip down memory lane.
A round of drinks with childhood friends.
And a Post Christmas Party-Party all in one.

Related Flickr Photos.

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