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!
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”
The Filipino dinner table or Noche Buena on Christmas Eve is a big family feast with specially cooked dishes
On December 24, Christmas Eve, Filipino families, particularly those of the Catholic and Christian faith, gather for the Noche Buena or Christmas Dinner – a big family feast to celebrate the Christmas season.
The Noche Buena is a much-awaited event as the occasion does not only gather the whole family but also promises the best prepared and special meals cooked by the household with luxury items such as imported cheese or Queso de Bola, apples and grapes and drinks. Native Philippine dishes and delicacies are served and food is in abundance since family, friends and neighbors are expected to drop by for a visit, and one has to show hospitality and good cheer to everyone.
Obviously adopted from the Spanish custom of Christmas celebrations, regalo (gifts) are exchanged and children are particularly indulged by their parents, uncles and aunts with toys, clothing and other presents. Catholics are also expected to attend the Christmas mass on Christmas Eve after which the dinner will be served for everyone to enjoy.
More than weddings or birthdays, it is the Filipino’s Noche Buena table that is almost always laden with so much food at any time of the year.
Mabuhay ang Pinoy Christmas!
Cool evenings, a carpet of soft lights and the expectant, festive air of a unique Filipino Christmas
Perhaps this Filipino Christmas is the most imitated or sung by YouTube enthusiasts, and understandably so since this is one of the most popular if not widely loved original Filipino Christmas songs. “Pasko na Sinta Ko” (It’s Christmas My Beloved) was composed by Francis Dandan with lyrics by Aureao Estanislao. An intensely felt version was originally performed by Gary Valenciano in 1976 conveying the song’s heartfelt wish of seeing again his/her absent beloved.
More than a Christmas melody, Pasko na Sinta Ko is a love song and evokes the nostalgia and yearning of those who are spending the Christmas holidays without their loved ones. The song is specially evocative for Filipino overseas workers and expatriates as it captures celebrating Christmas in less than cheerful circumstances. Even non-Filipinos find resonance in this song which has been performed or played in the US and Europe in Filipino expat communities.
Regularly appearing or ranked in the popular Filipino music hit list and charts, Pasko na Sinta Ko has also been sung by the Philippine Madrigal Singers, perhaps by far the best rendition of the song which has been interpreted by countless other Filipino singers.
Long live Philippine original music!
Click on the link for Gary Valenciano’s version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XlFY141Q-E&feature=related
Belen is a big and well-loved tradition in Pinoy Christmas
Another traditional Filipino Christmas symbol is the belen — a tableau representing the Biblical Nativity scene. Derived from the Spanish term for the town of Bethlehem, it depicts the infant Jesus Christ in the manger, surrounded by the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the shepherds, their flock, the Magi, angels and some stable animals.
Belens can be seen in homes, churches, schools and even in office buildings. Belen in office buildings can be extravagant, using different materials for the figures and lavishly decorated with Christmas lights, parols (lanterns), and painted background scenery. A popular outdoor belen in Metro Manila is at the COD building in Cubao, Quezon City which attracted crowds during the Christmas season some decades ago. In 2003, the COD’s belen was transferred to the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan when the COD building closed down. The Greenhills belen is a light-and-sound presentation with the Nativity story recorded and played repeatedly to synchronise with animated the figures. Each year, the company changes the theme, with variations such as a fairground story or the journeys of Santa Claus.
Tarlac City is also known as the “Belen Capital of the Philippines” and holds the annual “Belenismo sa Tarlac.” The event features a belen making contest and attracts the participation of commercial establishments and Tarlac residents. Giant versions of the belen with different themes are displayed by stores and on the streets of Tarlac during the Christmas season (Excerpted from Wikipedia).
Mabuhay ang Pinoy Belen!
Held in December in Imus, Cavite province, Paskuhan sa Imus (Christmas at Imus) is a month-long festival which celebrates the Filipinos’ unique Christmas traditions. Imus City is bathed in thousands of lights, a dazzling array of lanterns of all shapes and outdoor décor that evoke the warm memories of one’s childhood.
A food fair featuring native sweets and Christmas delicacies and a trade fair feature the best of Cavite. Native food delicacies include fish curries and spicy vegetable dishes. Every night the town celebrates the festive season with traditional dancing and singing competitions and a grand parol competition. The nightly entertainment shows and events are capped with the enactment of the Panunuluyan (Visitation), Imus-style.
Mabuhay ang Paskuhan sa Imus!
Christmas tree maker on Roxas Boulevard (Philippine Star Photo)
Segments of Roxas Boulevard in Pasay and Manila are transformed every year to a virtual Christmas wonderland with vendors selling handmade Christmas trees of all colors and shapes.
Mostly made of wooden twigs (from the ‘kulasi’ plant) painstakingly nailed and shape to form Christmas trees, Roxas Boulevard attracts flocks of shoppers looking for their ideal Christmas tree. White, pink and the classic green-colored trees are on offer, and haggling is de rigeur. Motorists on Roxas Boulevard are treated to the sight of these trees that signal the merry and hectic Pinoy Christmas season.
Long live handmade Christmas trees!
A slice of embutido
Embutido (Philippine Pork Roll) is a Filipino celebration staple or meat dish derived from a Spanish meat roll recipe. In the Philippines one usually finds embutido served on birthdays, Christmas, holidays and other celebratory or festive days. One can describe embutido as a meat log or a meat roll, usually made from ground pork, stuffed with eggs and one or a variety of other meat-products, and studded with raisins and peppers.
The roll is a rich mixture of meat, finely diced vegetables which is steamed or left in the oven to warm. Embutido can be served as cold cuts. It is also best to dip a slice of embutido with your favorite food sauce.
Filed under Food, Traditions
Traditionally, Christmas Day in the Philippines is ushered in by the nine-day dawn masses that start on December 16 (and until December 25). Known as the Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass) in the traditional Spanish and in Filipino as Simbang Gabi, or “Night Mass”, this novena of masses is the most important Filipino Christmas tradition.
The Catholic faithful attend the midnight mass after which some enjoy the traditional food stalls that line the church yard. Rice cakes such as puto bongbong, bibingka and hot chocolate drinks or salabat (ginger tea) are sold and serve to churchgoers and passers-by. With the nippy air and the twinkle of Christmas lights the Simbang Gabi recalls the Christmas rites of bygone years.
Long live Pinoy Christmas!
The popular Pampanga-made Parol or Christmas lanterns
The Filipino Parol (pah-Rol) or Christmas lantern is one of the most-loved Christmas decorations in the Philippines, an iconic symbol during the holiday season and which can be found in almost all Filipino homes, offices and street corners. The Filipino Parol is supposedly adapted from the Chinese lantern and the Mexican piñata to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem
Although nowadays there is a range of Filipino Christmas lanterns made of various materials, the parol made of bamboo frames can be considered as the most distinct or unique to the Philippines. Made of bamboo sticks fastened together to form a star, colored crepe paper are cut into strips and wrapped around the bamboo frame to form a gaily-colored star. Electric lights are added or draped around the star for evening use.
Another but more expensive variant is the parol made of heat-resistant plastic filaments and often sold along the intersection of Sen. Gil Puyat and the South Superhighway. Made in Pampanga these lanterns boasts of intricate colors and patterns, and are easy eyecatchers. Also another popular parol is one made of Capiz shells, the wafer-thin pearly, opaque shells used in traditional window frames. Colored and with an electric bulb installed inside, the Capiz parols are more durable but pricier than the cheaper bamboo-framed lanterns.
Mabuhay ang Pinoy Parol!