Christmas – it’s the holiest of the holy days in the Philippines, and the most festive of all festivities in the year. Being one of the few largely catholic nations, Christmas is the ultimate “fiesta” or party, and it seems that of the 365 days in a year, 364 of those are spent preparing for the 1 day celebrating it.
Unlike the rest of the world, Christmas season in the country starts as early as September, or whenever it is that people start planning Christmas parties, and thinking about their Christmas gifts. You start hearing Christmas songs in malls, restaurants, and other places even while it’s still summer in the western hemisphere, and Santa Clause is still in his bikinis in a tropical island somewhere, not in his factory at the north pole.
On the day itself, people gorge themselves with an incredible amount of food, make noise on the streets, and for the more fortunate – indulge themselves with opening their presents. A foreigner told me once how he could not understand why we put out so much food when we can’t even eat all of it. Well, food here in Christmas is just not meant to be eaten, it’s meant to be seen, and Christmas isn’t Christmas if you have an empty spot at the dining table.
Disneyland may call itself the “happiest place on earth”, and for 364 days of the year that might be true. But for just one day, December 25 to be exact, I believe the happiest place on Earth is the Philippines.
What makes the season even more festive is the Filipino penchant for Christmas lights and decorations. I haven’t been to outer space, but I would bet this bunch of islands we call the Philippines glows brighter as December draws nearer, and I’m pretty darn sure power utility companies like Meralco are happier at this time more than any other in the year.
Lights would fill both narrow alleys and wide avenues, whether it be in informal settler’s areas or the middle of business districts. For those of us who don’t get to see Metropolitan Manila during December, here are some photos of the bright lights and lavish decors in commercial areas in and around the metropolis.
Merry Christmas everyone!
* Photos taken November and December 2011, with Panasonic Lumix LX5.