“White Christmas” may sound magical. It is a common scenario seeing Filipinos frolicking in the snow especially the first timers. One may be mesmerized by the dazzling Christmas lights in New York City or get excited with the experience of burning logs at the fireplace in a winter wonderland like London. These are something that they used to see only in books or movies. But, as days pass by, a Filipino starts to realize that nothing beats the warmth of “Pinoy Christmas.”
No place on earth that celebrates Christmas longer than the Philippines. At the onset of the “ber” months, Pinoys start to hang lanterns and Christmas lights in their houses. Christmas tree is everywhere even before All Souls Day. The entire place is lively. Traffic gets worst. And shopping malls are getting busier. And at the dawn of December 16, everybody is excited to wake up early for the nine mornings or what we call “Simbang Gabi.”
Tsada Gyud has interviewed Kagay-anons abroad and asked them what they miss the most about Christmas in the Philippines especially here in Cagayan de Oro. And here they are….
Chayo Lei Pasimio (Kagay-anon currently based in Surrey, United Kingdom)
I miss the way Christmas songs are played at the start of the ‘ber months. Back home we put up the Christmas tree as early as the last weeks of November. Here Christmas sweaters and trees and trinkets don’t appear until December 1st. Nope, having the longest Christmas season in the world definitely brings more Christmas cheer. I miss the lights. I always used to look forward driving by McArthur Park going home from late shift duty. Unlike here, where only the bustling areas are lit up, in CdeO, you can almost always find Christmas lights in every street. Who wouldn’t miss the lovely bokeh profile-pic-worthy shots these lights would provide? I miss the food. Yes, one of the things a Pinoy abroad would definitely miss. I’m not gonna list recipes here. No need for self-torture. Papa’s kare-kare, pochero, pinaupong manok…. gaaaah! I miss how “malamig ang simoy nang hangin” used to be a phrase which I associated with a cooling December breeze. Here it’s a phrase which makes me run indoors. Freezing cold it is here. I miss the parties. There must be at least a Christmas party to attend for every week of December. And CdeO is no stranger to hosting parties that are all about dancing, singing, and having fun with friends and family. And speaking of.. I miss just exactly that friends and family, the warmth of being with friends and family cannot be replaced even with a tub of hot choco by the fireplace.
I miss you all. Longing for the day that I’ll be able to say “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
Alan G. Chua (From Patag, Cagayan de Oro now lives in Cedarhurst, New York, USA)
Number one, I miss the door to door caroling. Kana pud palungan ka og suga. Number two, I miss the huge crowd that goes to Simbang Gabi. Naa man diri in some parochial with sizable Filipino community pero lahi ra gyud. Number three, fireworks! Fourth of July ra naa. Number four, mga kakanin. Naa baligya sa Filipino store pero mas tsada ng init pa gyud. (haha) And lastly halos tanan membro sa family and relatives naa diha. So mas feel gyud ang spirit!
Greetings from NY! Have a joyous and memorable Christmas to my love ones in CDO! Wish we could spend it with you guys! It would be perfect that way!
Bob Julius Balingit (Singapore)
Though I was born in Bukidnon and my parents are from Opol, I consider myself as Kagay-anon. Cagayan de Oro is my city and I miss a lot of things there especially I’m now in Singapore and married a pure Tagalog from Quezon province. I miss the Christmas sale from sidewalk to the malls. Mall hopping just to find the best that suits my taste. Another I miss is riding jeepneys with joyful Christmas songs played. It’s okay being trapped in the traffic as long as there’s a Christmas song.
I would like to greet my mother Julieta Vacalares Balingit with her apo Loreen Balingit Sagaad in Poblacion, Opol, Misamis Oriental. Greetings to my sister Joy and bro Rolan with their family also in Opol. To my sister Marinyl and her family in Nazareth, CDO and the rest of my siblings and pamangkins in Bukidnon and in Luzon. The last but not the least, to my wife Rechille and to my sons Benilde Jester and Brent Justine currently in Candelaria, Quezon Province.
Jhai Quimpang (From 6th Division, Patag, Cagayan de Oro now lives in Brampton, Ontario, Canada)
What I miss about Christmas in CDO? Hmm.. siguro the festive mood kay September 1 pa lang I could already hear Christmas songs playing on the radio while Christmas decorations are seen in malls and different establishments. Then being a Filipino food fanatic, Christmas is the best time of the year when you get to taste all the heavenly Filipino recipes. Although there are foods that are quite similar here but lahi ra ang taste because lahi man ang ingredients dinhi like ilang veggies and meat. Lastly, I miss everybody there. If I compare the Filipinos and people here, ma feel nako ang excitement sa mga Kagayanons if Christmas na. Dinhi kay kebz lang. Personally lang ha, murag mas feel kaayo nato ang Christmas kaysa sa ila. (LOL) Aside from this kay mingaw kau ko mu attend ug mga endless Christmas parties and of course nothing beats celebrating Christmas with the ones you love the most.
Greetings to all my family and friends. It is sad na I won’t be celebrating Christmas this year with you guys but yes na kay I’m gonna see you soon. Enjoy your Christmas!
DJ Oxales (From Villanueva, Misamis Oriental now in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Sa akong madumduman nothing can compare sa Pasko sa atoa. Kana bitaw 10 years na nimo wala na experience ang Pasko unya suddenly madumduman nimo kanang salo salo before Christmas with your family after that sa imong mga friends… Kanang tradisyon namo nga Boracay Mix nga among timplahon pag Pasko ug New Year… Walay kahumanan nga istoryang kataw-anan, unya mga hubog, kanta kanta gamit ang gitara sa gamay nga payag. That’s what I miss in CDO….
I would like to greet my relatives and family especially my mama in ComVal Province, the Allan James Oliveros family, Alfonso Oliveros and family, my friends DAPA Compound, batchmates and classmates of Tagoloan Central School and Agusan National High School…especially to TG press editor and my classmate Michael Ray Ungab…. Merry Christmas to all of you! I miss you guys!
Raul Andre M. Nacaytuna (From Villanueva Misamis Oriental now in London, United Kingdom)
My third Christmas away from home made me realize how we Filipinos genuinely celebrate the birth of Jesus. I could still remember the time when I used to wake up so early in the morning to attend the birth-giving mass with my family and to eat the “puto maya” which were sold outside the church. I miss making my Christmas lanterns that I used to find joy and pride when hanged on my classroom’s ceiling. I enjoyed the memories of me and my cousins singing Christmas carols outside our neighbors’ house. Remembering all of these wonderful memories made me truly believed that Christmas spirit back home is genuine and not merely a celebration of materialism. To all my family members in Villanueva and other parts of the Philippines, I miss you all and Merry Christmas! XOXO from London.
Gisella Mae Dabalos Castaneda (From Tagoloan and Nazareth, CDO; currently living in Hayward, California)
There’s just a lot to miss in my hometowns: Tagoloan and CDO. Even before everything went Christmassy I can’t help but reminisce the fun and laughter shared with family, relatives and friends in the Philippines. This is yet our first Christmas here in the US and still observing how it differs to the Philippine way of celebrating the yuletide season. We filipinos love festivities that we tend to start celebrating Christmas season at the onset of ‘ber months’. We went shopping to different malls here but I can’t remember hearing any Christmas songs being played. In the Philippines I would hear Christmas carols wherever I go.. even tricycles and jeepneys have them play on the go. On the streets are children who are the happiest when traffic stops so they can sing their Christmas carols to passengers who are on a rush. What I miss most is our family Christmas party that we spend at my parent’s house. A week before the holidays I would be busy buying simple gifts for my loved ones. Since I am far away from my hometowns now, I only get to check my FB news feed to see how my loved ones celebrate the grandest occasion of all and wish one and all a very Merry Christmas!
As we enjoy the festivity of Christmas here in the Philippines, let us also remember our friends and relatives, our fellow Kagay-anons abroad spending their cold and quiet holiday season there. Somehow, their fond memories of Christmas here in the Philippines will keep them warm. Let us constantly remind them that they have a “home” waiting for them.
In behalf of Tsada Gyud, we would like to greet all Kagay-anons here and abroad a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.