Holidays in the Philippines!

“Holidays are all about the experiences you have that will turn into memories and the people that you’re surrounded with.”

In case you didn’t know already, Christmas here in the Philippines starts in December. What I mean by that is Christmas music and decorations can be seen going up starting in September! In the States, we don’t normally see Christmas decorations or hear Christmas music spammed all across the radio until November. As you can probably imagine, Christmas is a big deal.

I didn’t really see any decorations around my province until late, but when I visited Manila in late October, I walked around a couple malls and saw tons of Christmas decorations all around the mall as well as Christmas knick-knacks being sold in each store. It reminded me of home! Fast forward to December on Siquijor, it was an experience! Early to mid-December, Siquijor had their fiestas so that was like a warm-up to the Christmas celebration! It’s really cool how the timing works out.

I would have to say Christmas started with my school’s Christmas party on Dec 21! The weekend before the Christmas party, the students in each classroom decorated their classrooms! There was a contest to see which room had the best decorations. The challenge was to create a Christmas tree only using indigenous materials. The other decorations had to be recycled materials, they were all discouraged from purchasing anything to decorate their rooms. It was fascinating to see the students’ creativity shine. I didn’t get to take pictures of all the rooms, but I posted some of them below! The one with the snowflakes was Grade 10-Dove section. They won! Oh, I was one of the judges!! Was a cool experience.

The day of the Christmas party was like you would imagine in the states. The school just took the day off to celebrate the holiday! We do the same in the states. Each classroom had their own party with a potluck plus a gift exchange! I was included in Ma’am Jera’s advisory class for the gift exchange. It was a fun experience. Before anyone ate or exchanged gifts, they planned some games and stuff for everyone to participate in. Granted, this is still High School so not many students were into playing all the games. I didn’t quite want to either. Sorry, kids!!! I appreciate the effort though! When it was time to exchange gifts, we all stood in a circle and gave our gifts one by one. Ma’am Jera kept forcing the students to hug each other after they exchanged gifts, haha. High Schoolers will always be high schoolers. Their reactions were priceless. Thanks for my first Christmas in the Philippines, G11 – Titanium!

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The teachers had their own celebration after the students were finished with theirs. We didn’t have any games or events, just food. Too much food. I guess it was agreed upon to make four kilos of spaghetti, this is equivalent to two whole pots worth of pasta. Like it was a ton. I am thankful that it was so much though because spaghetti in the Philippines is usually sweet, full of sugar. Due to the massive amount of spaghetti, it wasn’t sweet at all J. So, it was yummy! After we gained a few pounds eating spaghetti and a few other delicious foods, Sir Irving was kind enough to grab my Frisbee from my house earlier that morning so we started tossing the Frisbee around. Eventually other teachers joined us and we had a small group. It was nice J. I should probably teach everyone how to play Ultimate Frisbee one of these days. Definitely miss playing that when I was in the states.

It was a small celebration at my house during the Christmas weekend. Hya’s family came over, so we had a small gathering. Ate some good food. Shrimp, to be exact! Then we sat outside on the porch, drank some weird concoction of alcohol Kuya Eric put together. Let’s just say I never really mixed beer and hard alcohol before and now I definitely don’t want to anymore, haha. On Christmas day, we headed over to Hya’s house in San Juan. They live near a White Sand beach that’s absolutely beautiful. A lot of the resorts are along the beach as well. We only hung around for a few hours after eating some fish and sea urchins they caught that morning. I was able to walk along the beach to enjoy the sound of the water receding into the ocean as low tide was approaching. Definitely relaxing.

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It was weird missing Christmas for the first time ever with my family in America. I knew it would happen ever since I signed up for the Peace Corps, but to know that I missed out on Mason’s first Christmas and Christmas all together was an odd feeling. I really wanted to be in two places at once. Y’know, create a clone of myself haha. All part of the Peace Corps life. I’m sure after a few more months, I’ll get used to it. Especially now that our travel ban is released, I can start visiting other PCVs and other PCVs can visit me! Looking forward to that.

I’ll post about my New Year’s Eve/New Year’s experience on Bohol with the other PCVs on Facebook. Check it out 🙂

Until next time…!

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2 thoughts on “Holidays in the Philippines!”

  1. It sounded like you had an interesting Christmas, quite a bit different from the ones we had in the States. It’s interesting to see how different countries celebrate Christmas. With the majority of the Filipino population being Catholic, and Christmas a major event for the year, I was surprised not seeing any nativity display, at least not in the pictures. It didn’t surprise me about the start of the Christmas decorations in September. We start doing that in the States also. This year at Lowe’s and Home Depot they started displaying the Christmas merchandise in September, same as the Philippines. By early December they have sold out most of the merchandise and Christmas wasn’t even here yet.

    I was impressed with the decorations the students did in the classrooms. You have some pretty creative minds there, especially with the limited resources they could use.

    Like everywhere else, when it’s time to celebrate something, there are always lots of food. We had a smaller group at this year’s dinner. Besides you, Matt decided to spend Christmas with his family. But we had Mason as our new member. It was a bittersweet moment for us. We had disappointment and excitement at the same time. Without the two of you there were a lot of left over, quite a bit more than previous years. That means mom didn’t have to cook for quite a few days. If you were here I am sure there would not be much left over at all. We are looking for the day when we have everybody at the table on Christmas.

    With your last message about sacrificing the pigs for festivals. We had experienced that in Moldova also. Instead of the way you mentioned to put the pig down, they used a long pointed iron rod and stabbed the pig in the heart. It was a little more humane way. The pig didn’t suffer long. It was fast, only a minute or so. It would turned my appetite off also if I were to witness how the Filipinos do it. Again different cultures deal with things differently. Once you get used to it, it becomes normal.

    Looking forward to your next blog.

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    1. Thanks Dad! I appreciate your comments! So I guess everyone is discrediting Halloween and Thanksgiving by starting their Christmas sales in September!! The students were extremely creative in decorating their classrooms. It’s sad they could have them up for 3 days instead of the whole month, they were awesome.

      I didn’t know Matt spent Christmas with his family! What changed? I assume you went over for New Years though, right? I wish I was there to eat all the food! I definitely missed eating that prime rib roast!! I can only dream of it now.

      The pig thing is something I’ll have to get used to haha. Well, I guess if fiesta or whatever is at my house. i won’t have to see or hear pigs getting slaughtered if I visit other parties. It’s still yummy XD I hope you guys will be able to try it! Or even come to see it.

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