“Christmas won’t be the same without you. Christmas won’t be the same if you go. All I need to see standing by my Christmas tree (is you). Christmas won’t be the same without you.” This is a very heartwarming Christmas song which I always remember during celebration of Christmas. Going to mass for 9 evenings to complete the Simbang Gabi or Evening Mass, eating the all-time favorite in this time of season; puto bumbong and bibingka, and how can we ever forget giving gifts or money to our nephews and nieces most especially to our godchildren singing Christmas carols to impress us and somehow brings fun and happiness to the celebration. These are what every Filipino misses when they go miles away from the country.

            Celebrating Christmas in Philippines is very incomparable according to my relatives and friends working and living abroad. Christmas season is one of the biggest and extravagant season celebrations in the Philippines besides New Year. Everyone in the family is present for the celebration; bringing potlucks and having the very memorable family picture. But how does the Philippine Christmas differ from other Christmas celebration. I’ve interviewed my friends and relatives abroad on how they celebrate Christmas on the country they live in.

          Ms. Tanya Lianza, 46, my former High school teacher shares her story as she spends her Christmas in Elkhart, Kansas. “There is no comparison. The Philippine celebration of Christmas is the best. We celebrate it for the longest time (from September to the 1st week of January or the three kings as commonly known to Filipinos). Here in Kansas, Christmas is not celebrated as grand as the way they celebrate Thanksgiving, which is how we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. In Kansas City, Christmas is celebrated as a holiday but it is just like an ordinary day. People here tend to make a feast during Thanksgiving but not Christmas. In the Philippines you can really feel Christmas in the air when the month starts to end with ‘ber’. You can hear Christmas songs in the airwaves as early as September. Here it is already November and I haven’t heard one Christmas song. There is no “Simbang Gabi” & “Caroling” or I just haven’t experience it yet, except for the Simbang Gabi I attended when I was in Arizona because we had a Filipino priest there who initiated the mass. And last what I miss most about the Philippine Christmas is the bibingka and puto bumbong.”

          Ma. Theresa Azores, 27, former classmate in High school looks back as she presently lives and work in Dubai. “Paskong Pinoy sa Pinas walang katulad. Dubai has its own version of Pasko but still I have never ever felt it the way it is felt pag nasa Pinas ka. Yes, I know some Pinoy who already put up their Christmas tree but no one told me nor expressed to me their excitement. Not even mga Batang Pinoy. I thought, it is now becoming just a trend instead of a celebrated gathering. Hindi lahat ng Pinoy nakakapag-celebrate ng Pasko lalo na kapag nasa Middle East ka, swerte lang ang mga Pinoy sa Dubai because they have their liberty to celebrate it, mga Pinoy kapag Pasko dito may 2 days Paid Leave and UAE government honor it. I have not celebrated Pasko for over 5 years now, I am a Muslim. But, somehow, nakaka-miss ang nakagawian at kinalakihan mong Simbang Gabi, Puto bumbong, Bibingka, Caroling, Christmas Eve Dinner at marami pang iba. I might not wish you a “Merry Christmas” but surely I will say “Enjoy the Holiday”. At any given chances, I greet back and smile when I am greeted “maligayang pasko kabayan”, because as much as Catholic respects Islam, I do highly respect the tradition where I am from.”

   

          Bernard Mejia, 28, a fellow Rotaractor express his sentiments as he lives and work presently in Dubai. “Christmas in the Philippines is the best of them all even if we don’t have snow cones nor paid leaves. In addition to which in Philippines we were celebrating the event full heartedly kahit na wala tayong maraming pera or handa sa noche buena the thought that everybody is going to wake up at 12am and greet each other a happy season greetings is incomparable, even if we were trying to call all our relatives from afar even if it’s very hard to get in touch with them from 11pm to 5am, kahit delay messages sige pa din ang text.”

 

 

 

          Nadia Vinegas, 27, former classmate in High School and a colleague shares her story. “I have been living and working in Singapore from 2008 till now and since then I have been celebrating- both Christmas and New Year here. Its incomparable celebrating Christmas in Philippines and here, although you’ll see a lot of Christmas decorations everywhere, the excitement and happiness you’ll feel is totally different. In Philippines, you already look forward to Christmas when September comes in – anticipating 13 month pay – Christmas shopping- get together with Family, Christmas party etc. But it’s not the same here- multicultural kasi ang Singapore. They have Malays (Muslim), Indian (Hindu), and Chinese (Buddhist, Christian, Taoist and sama mo na mga free thinker or no beliefs) so kahit September na najn un Deepavali to Celebrate for Indians, yung Hari Raya Puasa for Muslims- yung Thanksgiving sa western then Christmas!

I haven’t celebrated Christmas Like I used to while still living in Manila- I haven’t been with my family for Christmas and New Year or Celebrated Company Christmas party or having Christmas groceries or free ham from the company.

Christmas in Singapore is celebrated by Christian Populations only but it’s more of just having a so Called Christmas “LOG CAKE” and Christmas HAM and Church visit on the evening then after Christmas prayer, tulugan na.

Very equal ang treatment ng government ng Singapore sa lahat including immigrants like the Filipino Community we can have SIMBANG GABI here, pero literal na gabi its 7 in the evening- starting December 15- iba’t-ibang church nagsponsor then may libre lugaw afterwards prepared by Filipino Organizers – meron din kaming tagalog mass every 4th Sunday of the month- depending on the churches schedule so between December 15  to 24 alam na- punong puno ang Church at Bus at halos magkastampede na sa dami ng nagsisimbang gabi.

Yung mga Filipino lang nagsasaya at nagiingay dito kapag Christmas at New Year un mga DH nasa Orchard nagsasayawan sila dun – halo halo- Korean Community- Japanese Community- Myanmar community etc., nagkikita-kita sa orchard at dun ngcecelebrate

Kapag me nagsumbong sa pulis na maingay- alam na Filipino Friends and Family nagkakaraoke! Kapag New Year naman kelangan ng permit para magpaputok kaya nanuod na lang kami ng TV para sa countdown.

Mas Masaya talaga sa Pilipinas as in!”

 

          Billy Rey Caballero, 27, former classmate in High school who works and lives presently in Singapore expressed his desire in celebrating Christmas. “2 years ako sa Dubai pero di ko naramdaman ang Christmas dun kasi iba ang culture and religion. Sa Company ko, hindi holiday ang Christmas kaya kaylangan magwork. Although, mas open city ang Dubai unlike other cities and countries in the Middle East kaya kahit papaano may mga Christmas decoration pa rin sa mga mall at my church mass. Mga Filipino co-worker lang kasama mong magcecelebrate ng Christmas at new year.

Ngayon nasa Singapore nako, 1st year ko pa lang dito, mas open kaysa sa Dubai at mas maraming Christian. Pero di ko pa rin maramdamn na parating na pala ang Pasko.

There’s nothing like spending Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Philippines. Wala ng tatalo sa saya pag kasama mo pamilya, mahal mo, kaibigan o nakikita mo kapwa mo Pilipino sa araw ng Pasko at bagong taon. Ibang iba talaga, kasi kahit maraming problema, may kaaway at may magulong politics ay naisasantabi at nakakalimutan pagdating ng araw ng pasko at bagong taon. 

Kahit saang bansa siguro tayo pumunta, kahit anong yaman at ganda ng trabaho natin sa ibang bansa, wala pa rin tatalo sa Pilipinas!”

          “Christmas is just around the corner”, we hear this very often, however, there are others who really cannot enjoy celebrating Christmas because of the cultural and religion differences. So as we sing the song again, Christmas won’t be the same with you. ‘You’ can also mean not only the person we love, but also our country, Philippines, where Christmas is well celebrated.

 

 

Photos retrieved from:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2381139052836.2115490.1381491340&type=3

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