Tag Archives: Christmas

There Are Christmases I Remember

There are Christmases I remember made vivid and nostalgic by the people and things I associated with them . Some of these people and things have changed, some have gone and some remained. But the heartwarming memories remain.

Christmases are for children as they say and I’ll always remember Christmases when I was a child. There was the pop-up paper Belen that we had.

From Pinterest

We also had a Christmas tree , made of a cut tree, usually a bakawan (mangrove) which was plentiful in our place being a seaside town. (There’s much focus on the mangrove now with environmental consciousness. The mangrove area was reclaimed so the bakawans were probably not preserved because they would really be cut for the reclamation) . The branches were wrapped in cotton. Other friends’ Christmas trees were painted white. I realize now that we were imitating the snow-covered trees of temperate countries (which the Philippines didn’t and doesn’t have. I don’t see Christmas trees like that anymore). Had I known then, I would have told my playmates that cotton resembled snow more.

We were not big on Santa Claus decor, but we did hang socks in our Christmas tree for Santa’s gifts. These gifts were almost always the Serg’s chocolate and some crispy, new peso bills. (Yes, young folks, we did receive money in those denominations shown in the pictures) We liked to smell the new money. (The Central Bank of the Philippines still issues new money at this time of year) .

old philippine peso bills | Philippine peso, Philippines culture,  Philippines
From Pinterest
4 pcs Fractional Notes 5, 10, 20, 50 centavos Philippine English Baknotes |  eBay
From eBay

Serg’s chocolates are no longer in the market or the company stopped producing for a long while ( they have a Facebook page which I reached when I searched for Serg’s chocolate image).

I remember Nanay’s (mother) special fried chicken and bistik during Noche Buena. There were apples and grapes brought home by my siblings studying in Manila. Apples and grapes were imported and rare in those times and the mere smell of apples evoked the Christmas feeling in me. We also had the Tagalog tikoy. We ate the tikoy as is from the wrapper which was made of native palm, unlike the Chinese tikoy which is cooked by dipping in eggs and frying them.

Quezon Special Tikoy - ATBP
Quezon special tikoy -ATBP

We wore our new outfits in going to church for the mass on Christmas day. We met almost everyone in church and we knew almost everyone in our town so after mass, we kept beaming and smiling because we saw and greeted familiar people. As we walked home , we were greeted and greeted back in turn by people we met on the streets. Then we kids would go to our relatives and godparents to visit them, in Tagalog namamasko. It was heartwarming seeing many walking on the streets for their pamamasko. Some of us felt the strain on our feet due to new shoes but we kept on our pamamasko. In the afternoon, it was customary for the teenagers and other adults to have their turn in visiting friends and relatives.

Children usually graduate from pamamasko at age 13. It was nice observing the children who came to our house. My Dad would ask “Sino ang mga magulang mo? (Who are your parents?)” Or “Sino ang Ninong o Ninang mo? ( Who’s your godfather or god mother ?). It was a nice way of knowing the kids and their knowledge of their families or lineage. It was a time to get acquainted with the children of friends and relatives if the kids came for the first time or to get to be updated on how the kids had grown. There were some kids who came without a relative or godparent in our house, my parents gave them something for Christmas too.

That was Christmas in the olden days. I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before and made Christmas special. I know I’ll stop and think about them specially during Christmas time.

Now it’s our turn to make Christmas memories special for the young ones.

Christmas 2017, photo by Ronnel Tolentino

Maligayang Pasko! Merry Christmas!

The Belen – The Christmas Symbol That Celebrates The Reason For The Season

Belen is a tableau representing the nativity scene or the birth of Jesus Christ. It reminds everyone of the origin of Christmas.

Expectedly, it is at the center of churches’ Christmas decorations.

National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. This was taken on December 20, 2021. The infant Jesus is not yet in the manger prior tohis date of birth.

National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, taken on December 25, 2020.

Inside National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians

Calendars issued by the church often depicts the nativity scene.

Desk Calendar

At home, we always have a Belen during the Christmas season.

Our Little Belen At Home

This year, my hometown neighborhood displayed a Belen.

Our Neighbothood Corner in Calauag, Quezon, photo by Mayet Sidiangco Seguerra

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic.

In Tarlac, they celebrate Belenismo every year.

Belenismo – a yearly celebration in Tarlac https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1159756

Malacañang has a life-size Belen.

MALACAÑANG PALACE BELEN DISPLAY . A life-size “belen” (nativity scene), depicting the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger, is on display inside Malacañang Palace’s sprawling lawn on Wednesday (Nov. 17, 2021). The nativity scene is a common display in churches, malls and homes during the Christmas season, some with elaborate figures of angels, shepherds, wise men and animals. (PNA photo by Jess M. Escaros Jr.)

Commercial business districts and establishments often display a Belen.

Belen on General MacArthur Avenue at Araneta City in Cubao, Quezon City features a life-sized tableau of the nativity scene, with Filipino touches like capiz lights, parols, and a kubo roof.

MERRY CHRISTMAS ! MALIGAYANG PASKO!

We’ll Be Home For Christmas

We’ll be home for Christmas. Well, I’ll be home with my niece, just the two of us, without our usual big family gathering because of the pandemic.

Ever since I was a kid, our family always gathered for Christmas. I was born in a small, quaint town in Quezon and our Christmases were always celebrated with the family.

Christmas circa 1960

When my older siblings started college in Manila, we younger siblings always waited for their Christmas vacation. Their coming home always signaled that Christmas day was near. They would bring our new shoes and dresses/outfits bought from the big city. They would also bring Christmas fruits like apples and grapes . These fruits were imported and were rare at that time and their smell , specially the smell of apples, evoked the feeling of Christmas in me. These were essential fruits in our Noche Buena shared with the immediate family. The favorite dish was the fried chicken cooked in her own recipe by my mother.

Christmas Day is the time when our cousins come to visit our Lola in our ancestral home where we lived. There was no obligatory gift giving in our family then. We kids just hang socks on the Christmas tree and eagerly looked for small gifts in the socks as soon as we woke up on Christmas morning.

Christmas circa 1960

We wore our new outfits in going to church for the mass on Christmas day. We met almost everyone in church and we knew almost everyone in our town so after mass, we kept beaming and smiling because we saw and greeted familiar people. As we walked home , we were greeted and greeted back in turn by people we met on the streets. Then we kids would go to our relatives and godparents to visit them, in Tagalog “namamasko”. It was heartwarming seeing many walking on the streets for their “pamamasko”. Some of us felt the strain on our feet due to new shoes but we kept on our “pamamasko”. In the afternoon, it was customary for the teenagers and other adults to have their turn in visiting friends and relatives. That was pure familial and community bonding even if for us kids, our motivation was not only familial love but also our aspiration for Christmas gifts, usually money so kids could carry the gifts in visiting godparents and relatives from house to house.

As each one of us siblings reached college levels , we moved to Manila one by one. But Christmas was still a homecoming. For us younger siblings, it was our turn to look forward to coming home and see our parents , relatives and old friends from grade school and high school.

As most of us graduated and pursued our careers and dreams in Metro Manila or for some of us, in other countries, we started to have our Christmas reunions in the city. We looked forward to our coming together , some of us would come from our hometown, some from other parts of Metro Manila and some from other countries.

Christmas 2018, photo by Ronnel Tolentino
Christmas 2019, photo by Ronnel Tolentino

This year will be different because of the pandemic. But family bonding lives on as we share the joy and hopes of Christmas through new ways in the so-called new normal and we celebrate together in spirit even if physically we’re far apart.