MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos are a tight-knit bunch, and we just love using every occasion as an excuse to get together and celebrate.
But the biggest, most important celebration of the year for most Filipinos is Christmas. It’s such a big deal that our preparations begin several weeks, if not months, prior.
Pinoy Christmas get-togethers are, indeed, worth waiting the whole year for: there’s a seemingly endless supply of delicious and memorable holiday fare, fun and games, and all your friends, family, and relatives in one place.
Below, we list five scenarios that are telling signs you’re in a Pinoy Christmas get-together.
The program includes a talent showcase-slash-competition
For us, get-togethers aren’t eat-and-run affairs. You can be certain that any Pinoy celebration, from annual company-wide Christmas parties to clan reunions, would have one: a prayer, quick opening remarks from the organizer or head of the family or company, and other what-have-yous before digging into a sumptuous feast.
Part of that “what-have-yous” include friendly talent showcases-slash-competitions between departments, or if it’s a reunion, between families or the apos and pamangkins. It’s the only time in the year where we willingly (or begrudgingly, if you’re the shy type) show our dancing and/or singing chops especially if it means getting additional pamasko from the elders or a nice prize from the bosses.
The grandkids make their rounds of mano to the elders
Filipinos have much respect for the elders, and pagmamano is just one of the many gestures that we do to show that we honor them. Normally, it’s done by grandchildren of all ages to their grandparents, and to aunts and uncles.
And so during family reunions, we don’t make a beeline for the buffet or dining table. We first pay our respects to all our older relatives with a mano – hug and kiss on the cheek and a remark of “ang laki laki mo na!” optional.
Someone says ‘picture picture!’ every few minutes or so
From decades back when film was the norm to the age of phone and other digital cameras now, there has always been that person or two who somehow ends up being the “official” photographer. He or she may be your photography enthusiast colleague or kabarkada, or your mom or tita who simply loves capturing memories through photos.
And when you hear them say “picture, picture!”, you better get yourself camera-ready, stat – lest you end up having a photo of yourself chewing midway or, god forbid, grinning but with eyes half closed.
People take turns with the videoke machine
Filipinos love to sing, and the existence of a videoke microphone or machine in practically every home is a testament to this.
At parties and get-togethers, this automatically becomes one of the highlights. Almost everyone takes turns belting out tunes, from classic ballads to angst-ridden pop songs, from KPop to inspiring anthems. And once someone starts, it almost never stops. Videoke sessions last throughout the day and into late night, when the kids are tucked in and the older ones begin drinking and bantering.
There’s cheese everywhere
Sprinkled on spaghetti, rolled up in morcon, even mixed in caldereta and buko salad! Heck, we even have the ubiquitous and good ol’ block of Eden cheese, all ready for snacking or grating and sprinkling!
We Pinoys simply love our cheese, and no party or Noche Buena spread would be deemed complete without it. Cheese easily upgrades any dish it’s added into and enhances its flavor, making it creamier and more delicious. We like putting liberal amounts of it on pretty much everything.
These things prove that there’s no better place to celebrate Christmas than with the ones you love, beefed up with things that make it truly Pinoy.
Did we miss any of our Christmas festivity quirks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! – Rappler.com
All illustrations by Alejandro Edoria