#365 Super Lolo

A range of paputok or firecrackers is big business in the Philippines by year-end

New Year’s Eve in the Philippines is a noisy and, more often than not, dangerous, accident-prone affairs. Paputok (firecrackers) rule the day (if not weeks in advance) and many Filipinos surprisingly do not hesitate to spend hard-earned monies on firecrackers, a habit obviously borrowed or learned from the Chinese who are considered expert firecracker makers and producers in the region.

The list of fireworks below is certainly not an encouragement or endorsement (by this blogger) to young children and even to adults to use them, but among the popular paputok in the Philippines (which have funny names) are the Rebentador, Super Pla Pla, Trianggulo, Bawang (literally garlic cloves) Sinturon ni Judas (Juda’s Belt), Jumbo Fountain, Whistle Bomb and Super Lolo (Super Grandpa), the last being the most terrifyingly whacky when it comes to ear-blasting effects. The more ‘tame’ or ‘safe’ firecrackers are Lusis, Bulalakaw (comets), Watusi and Baby Rockets.

But to those who refuse to obey sound advice and reason, Super Lolo may yet be the nastiest grandfather in town come New Year’s Eve when it comes to blasting the eardrums of your nearest neighbors and their pet dogs.

From 365 Great Pinoy Stuff- A Healthy and Happy New Year to All!


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#364 Media Noche

A festive Filipino table for the New Year

In the Philippines the countdown to New Year varies depending on family or even region. At the strike of midnight, the noise becomes deafening with firecrackers shooting and blooming in the sky while everyone gape in awe.

The banging and booming rise to a climax as people make noise by clanging old pots and pans, blowing a jeepney, car or tricycle’s horns, using assorted whistles, firecrackers to any kind of noise both awful or simply maddening. For children who wishes to grow taller in the new year, adults cajole them to jump 12 times around midnight in hopes of getting their wish fulfilled. Similar to other Asian countries, the loud noises and sounds of merrymaking are not only meant to celebrate the New Year but are supposed to drive away bad spirits.

After midnight the family also gather for a thanksgiving feast called Media Noche (midnight meal). Filipinos believe having a food-laden dinner table augurs well for the coming year and brings good luck. At least 12 round fruits are placed in the fruit basket as a sign of prosperity for the next 12 months. All-time favourite dishes such as noodles (for long life), pork, beef, chicken, rice cakes and assorted sweets are served. For Catholics there is also a midnight mass to welcome the New Year.

Long live Philippine festive traditions!

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#363 New Year’s Fruit Basket

Photo from Tsibog.com

Part of the fun in getting ready for New Year’s Eve is to come up with 12 round fruits, each to signify a month of the year. Ideally, there should be 12 different fruits — grapes, oranges, clementines, cantaloupe, pomelo, watermelon, chico…

It’s a tough challenge, so at times, half the fruits in a Filipino’s New Years Fruit Basket or dinner table are likely to be not really round such as mangoes, pears and apples. But the fruit that Filipinos most associate with the celebration of the New Year and which will be always found in a fruit basket are ubas (grapes), preferably the big imported varieties to add a special touch to New Year’s celebrations. For Filipinos having round fruits on the dinner table are supposedly harbingers of good luck for the rest of the new year…

Long live Philippine festive traditions!

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#362 Bocaue, Bulacan

A worker in a makeshift fireworks factory in Bocaue, Bulacan. Photo: Washington Post


Bocaue (BOO-Ka-weh) is a municipality in Bulacan province, located some 25 kilometers north of Manila. The town’s major industry is fireworks, earning Bocaue the moniker “Fireworks Capital of the Philippines.”

Unfortunately in the run-up to Christmas and New Year’s Day, Bocaue often grab the headlines with deadly fire and explosions that often occur in small, illegal or unregulated firecracker factories.

 Death tolls often climbed to more than a hundred due to unsafe production methods in these unregulated factories.

But aside from the firecrackers industry, Bocaue is also famous for its Bocaue liempo (bacon) roast, crispy pata (cured beef brisket and shank), rellenong bangus (stuffed milkfish) and various sorts of rice cakes.

Mabuhay ang Bocaue!

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#361 Pan-ay Church Bell

Photo: Filamerian Student Community Roxas City Blog

The Pan-ay or Santa Monica Church in Capiz province, Philippines is the home of the biggest bell in Asia, and the third largest in the world.

The Santa Monica Church is best known for its 10.4 ton bell popularly called dakong lingganay (big bell). The bell was cast by Don Juan Reina who settled in Iloilo in 1868. Reina who was the town’s dentist was also noted as a metal caster and smith.

The bell was cast at Pan-ay from 70 sacks of coins donated by the townspeople. The bell was completed in 1878. The bell bears an inscription which, in translation,  reads: “I am God’s voice which shall echo praise from one end of the town of Pan-ay to the other, so that Christ’s faithful followers may enter this house of God to receive heavenly graces.”

There is also a small museum in the convent showing artifacts from the original church (Various Internet sources).

Mabuhay ang Panay Church Bell!

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#360 Jojo’s Christmas Cottage

Jojo's Christmas Cottage at night

Down in the Visayas in Aklan province is the town of New Washington. Apart from being the birthplace of the former Archibishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin (deceased), New Washington is also known for the Sampaguita Gardens and Resort, a 10-minute ride from the airport.

What is remarkable about the resort is the popular Jojo’s Christmas Cottage where Christmas is celebrated 365 days a year.  The three-storey Jojo’s Christmas Cottage started commercial operations in June 2003 and everything in the cottage is about Christmas. Aside from the display of Santa Clauses and reindeers, visitors can enjoy tiny Christmas dolls from around the world, miniature Christmas villages, and signs saying Merry Christmas in every language.

Considered to be the only all-year round Christmas Store in the country, Jojo’s Christmas Cottage manufactures and distributes Precious Moments dolls, and have in its collection a Chinese Angel Doll and a Precious Moment Thai Doll. The ‘cottage’ also sells Philippine hand-crafted gift items, Christmas decors and souvenir items. Proceeds of sales from dolls sold are donated to the Samuel. J. Butcher Foundation which supports the Children Library and Feeding Program of Aklan province (Source: Biagkensiak blog).

Mabuhay ang Pasko sa Pilipinas!

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#359 Ang Pasko ay Sumapit

A CD cover of traditional Philippine Christmas songs

One of the most-loved Christmas songs in the Philippines, “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit (Christmas Has Come) is a traditional Filipino Christmas song originally composed by Vicente Rubi and Mariano Vestil in 1933.

The original was titled ‘Kasadya ning Táknaa’ (How Blissful is this Season!). A version of the song in Tagalog was used by Josefino Cenizal as a marching song for “Ang Pugad ng Aguila” (Hawk’s Nest) in 1938. National Artist Levi Celerio also wrote the Tagalog lyrics to the song during 1950s.

The song is still sung today in various communities, especially in churches in the Philippines and abroad by Filipino expatriates. Filipinos expats sing and play this song in family gatherings and parties to evoke the quintessential Filipino Christmas. Interestingly the song’s refrain expresses the Filipino’s aspirations (and unfulfilled hopes) for a progressive and ‘better’ Philippines. The refrain’s lyrics goes:

Bagong taon ay magbagong-buhay
Nang lumigaya ang ating bayan…”

Rough translation: “New Year’s means a new start
                              For the prosperity of our country…”

Marked with a jolly tempo, the song captures the merry-making spirit of the December holiday season and is often played by radio and TV stations throughout the Christmas season.
(From: Wikipedia and other sources)

Long live original Philippine music!

Click on the link to listen to a renditionof  “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit”

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