Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Maligayang Pasko!

Maligayang Pasko! Nawa’y ang liwanag na ibinahagi sa atin ay ating ibahagi rin sa kapwa [May we be able to share the light that was shared with us.].

Our belen or nativity scene for the last 3 years is this one we got at the Padre Pio Center near Eastwood in Quezon City.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Parol - Christmas lanterns

I had a meeting in Angeles City last week and took the opportunity to go lantern-shopping. We went to the shops in Dau, Mabalacat where we previously bought lanterns. A friend asked us to get her a parol and told us her budget was 1,500 pesos. That seemed to be a low budget for a nice lantern but you can get a nice medium sized parol for less after some bargaining with the shopkeepers. We ended up purchasing more parol as I got one for my parents' home and my colleagues also bought one each for their homes. We already have several at our home including one like the one I got for my parents.

The shopkeepers turn on the lanterns when customers arrive. It is a very colorful display that tends to capture your attention and convince you to get one for your home. We got one each as well as a parol for our friend who asked us to get her one.
There are various designs and sizes that will fit your budget. And all are made very well. In fact, the province of Pampanga including Angeles City, San Fernando and Mabalacat, is well known for parol. There is an annual competition for the best parol in Pampanga and the competition is a tourist attraction in the province.
Some people prefer the colored lanterns as they are still colorful even when not lighted (i.e., during the day). I prefer the simplicity of the white parol.
There are other Christmas-themed decors available at the shops including Santa Clauses, reindeer pulling a sleigh, and flowers. I prefer the parol over these more 'contemporary' decors.
My brother sent me this photo of the parol at our parents' home in Cainta. I got this for only 2,300 pesos and you cannot get a similar one with comparable size and workmanship for less than 5,000 pesos in Metro Manila or nearby places.
The parol is one of the symbols of Christmas for Filipinos as it represents the star over Bethlehem when Christ was born. You know there is a Filipino abroad when there is a parol displayed at their homes. I remember seeing parol displayed outside the windows and balconies of apartments and high-rise condominiums around us when we were previously living in Singapore. My Ninang (godmother)  in Japan also had a lantern hung outside their home that my Ninong (godfather, who was Japanese) says reminded them of the Philippines and family. We have one similar to the one I got for parents hanging from our balcony as well as a classic star that hangs over our lanai.

To our family to yours, a Blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Pasko at Parol 2016

We have always had a Christmas lantern (parol) diplayed in front of our home even before we had our daughter. We felt it just wasn't as Christmassy without the parol even if we had a nice tree and decorations in our house. Since I always have out of town trips for my projects, I had many opportunities to get a parol from Pampanga and Tarlac during fieldwork there. The first big parol we had was from Tarlac in 2004. I bought it at a roadside shop (MacArthur Highway) where they manufactured and sold lanterns. I actually bought two - one for the office and one for our home. The office lantern survives today and is displayed in front of our building. It just needs some repairs including replacement of many bulbs. 

We noticed our lantern was also already needing some repairs and it seemed not big enough to be prominent on our balcony after we moved into our new home almost 3 years ago. And so the wife made it part of my mission during a trip last November to find us a new parol. I did find one in Pampanga where they make really good lanterns. A roadside shop in Mabalacat was the maker of our new parol and my colleagues also got theirs for their homes from the same shop.

Here's a very short video of our new parol. It's attracted quite a number of admirers already and among them children doing their Christmas carol gigs around the village.

A Blessed Christmas to All!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Blessed Christmas to all!

I just want to greet all my readers a Merry Christmas!


May your wishes be granted and may you be safe and healthy with your family.

Peace on earth!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Of foggy mornings and a warm December

The late and last typhoon this year to affect Metro Manila and our area in Antipolo brought in much needed rains before Christmas. The rainy days were also a welcome respite from the uncharacteristically warm December that we have had. It is the second to the last day of December today and I can conclude that this is the warmest December we have had in memory. That, of course, refers to all my 43 years of Decembers. It is climate change affecting us and whoever it is who deny this deserves more than a slap in the face to open his/her eyes to the truth.

Nevertheless, the typhoon brought us some very cool mornings and nights and some heavy fog (definitely not smog) over a few days. Here are a couple of photos taken from the back of our home (not) showing the mountains enveloped in fog. A third photo shows the conditions along Sumulong Highway where the visibility is limited by the fog.

This is to the east and you cannot see the top of the mountain as well as the many houses there. Note the roof at the corner of the photo as this will be a reference in the next picture.
This is an even thicker fog with the foliage in the background obscured. That house there is the same one with the roof in the first photo.

Rain and fog limit visibility along Sumulong Highway. This is during the day a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure it was tougher for travelers once it was nighttime and I hope people were more careful driving then.

We don't expect any typhoons this January. It is even rarer to have extreme weather this time of the year. But then that 'extreme' should not refer only to rains and winds but instead also refer to warm temperatures like the ones we experience the past days including last Christmas Day. I do hope that January and February will be cooler even if its just the night times and mornings. It just doesn't feel right to have warm weather this time of the year.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Honey for Christmas

A friend posted about his selling raw honey from his province of Surigao del Norte. These were not farmed but collected from wild beehives in the mountains. I have been aware of the benefits of raw honey as compared with the commercial honey usually found in supermarkets (some raw honey are actually only packaged as such but are actually commercial honey usually with glucose or other ingredients mixed in). Commercial honey is also pasteurized or heated. You can research about this and there are many resources online if you want to know much about raw honey.

I ordered a couple of containers of honey for us to give away to family and friends this Christmas. We always think about what to give away for Christmas and this idea came about as I was browsing my Facebook account and saw an old friend's post about honey. It was an idea that translated into an assembly line for the our gifts that included sterilizing bottles, transferring the honey and printing and affixing stickers on each bottle that contained our holiday message.

We transferred the honey from the container it was shipped on to these jars we got from Ikea. Each jar contained standard 1 cup of raw honey.
Here is a close up of the jars of honey. We had to do a final 'quality check' to make sure that each jar contained about the same amount of raw honey. You can see from the photo some differences in the content of each jar.
Here's an even closer look at a jar of honey.
Another look at a jar of honey this time in daylight.
The color of the raw honey is a golden yellow. My friend says this was collected from tall trees and was lighter colored than the raw honey collected from lower hives. I have yet to research on this color aspect of the raw honey but I guess it also has something to do with the source of the nectar from which the honey was made by the bees. Of course, the taste is also influenced by the source but I am not a connoisseur for raw honey. :)
We still have a container of honey at home that we have not transferred to bottles. One uncle already asked if we had some more to spare as he used honey as a sweetener for his coffee and tea. It's also good for pancakes instead of the usual syrup. I'll try to write about other uses later when I get to try the honey for those.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Belen exhbit at 8 Rockwell

I was invited to guest in a major local news channel's morning show to talk about transport and traffic in Metro Manila. The studio is located at a posh new building at Rockwell in Makati City. But I will not talk about the interview or the news channel in this post. Instead I am featuring some photos I took of the exhibit at the building's lobby. The exhibit featured what looked like a private collection of "Belen" or the Nativity scene of Jesus' birth. I wasn't able to take notes of each of the sets in the exhibit but I guess the photos will speak for themselves in terms of the uniqueness and the qualities of each.

The collection comes from all over the world and many are exquisitely crafted using materials that are probably indigenous or even rare. I thought it was quite appropriate to share these photos on the first day of December as Christmas Day approaches fast and the spirit of this very special season is felt by many people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On Christmas well-wishers

The number of well-wishers typically swells during Christmas Day itself. People you don't know suddenly appear in front of your home and greeting you "Merry Christmas!" usually without the sincerity but seemingly as a substitute to a demand to be given money. We are no scrooges and we even prepared a budget for carolers and well-wishers based on the people who typically showed up in the place where we used to live but then we expected mostly kids in the neighborhood, the same ones who probably went caroling the previous nights. 

We did not expect to see entire families going around and stopping by each house to ask for pamasko.  It was not like this when we were young (i.e., our childhood years). There seems to be a lot more namamasko these days and this mendicancy has become a bit if not quite invasive. Given, it is a sad sight and a sad commentary on Philippine society. And I am sure that parents who brought  their children (and in many cases even carried their babies) probably meant well but then there are deeper issues pertaining to these that seem to be beyond our understanding, and pure and simple compassion should not be the sole basis for dealing with them. It made me wonder if the social welfare department was really doing their jobs and if this was another case to support the push for more liberal if not radical reproductive health laws in this country. It was obvious that the couples were not in the best position to raise and support their children, and relying on the charity of others seem to be quite unfair and even unjust.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Senti: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The Clairvoyant and I were just talking about some childhood memories and our reminiscing got us talking about cartoons and animated features that we loved when we were children. These included a stop motion animated feature that we enjoyed watching on TV back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I am sharing the very same feature on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that originally came out in 1964 and was recently digitally remastered. Here it is on YouTube for all posterity:

We will never tire of watching this with its simple story that's basically based on the song about this misfit reindeer. We enjoy the songs and the memories of times when life seem to have been less complicated.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

On Christmas caroling

The Christmas season isn't complete without caroling. Carolers are almost always welcome and I am referring to kids singing popular carols and Christmas songs and not the organized, fund-raising types that we turn down most of the time especially if we don't even know these people or their organizations. We do have a soft spot for kids compared to adult choirs or groups like this one from the church that we allowed into our home one evening.

I myself did my share of Christmas caroling with my friends back in the day when life was less complicated (at least for us kids at the time). People were less jaded and more generous. Well, at least, that was what most of the people in our middle class neighborhood were (Most gave us money in the range of 1 peso to 20 pesos - significant amounts back in the early to mid 1980's.). I would like to think that we did our part preparing for our almost nightly caroling by coming up with a good list of songs we could sing and practicing so that we had our lyrics right and sang in tune. We sang about 4 songs per home with mostly English carols or songs including "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," "Hark the Herald," and "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit."

These days, it's becoming rarer every year to hear kids singing complete Christmas carols or songs and we have heard some singing more contemporary yet seemingly inappropriate songs for their age (Pasko na Sinta ko? Christmas won't be the same without you? etc.). Most songs are sung without effort (no practice?) and usually are (much) shorter versions of popular carols including "Joy to the World,""Bago Sumapit ang Pasko" and "We wish you a Merry Christmas." Lyrics are often incomprehensible; revealing the carolers unfamiliarity with the songs (only the tunes). The singing also usually stops after 3 short songs or abruptly when "Patawad" or pamasko (usually money) is given. The "thank yous" to conclude the caroling are also hurriedly sang and without feeling (or sincerity).


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas greetings

We wish everyone a Blessed Christmas! May everyone in one way or another experience peace and love this day and all the days in their lives.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Blessed Christmas!

To our family to yours, may the true spirit of Christmas reign in our hearts and may everyone be blessed with peace and healing! A Blessed an Joyful Christmas to all!

Details on our Christmas tree at home


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Yokohama flashback: Christmas Mass

Better late than never so before January ends and before I forget again, I'm posting about Christmas in Yokohama, Japan. Among the experiences I love reminiscing about and retelling to family and friends were the times I served at Sacred Heart Cathedral (Yamate Catholic Church). The church is a brief climb from Ishikawacho Station of the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line through a residential area in the Naka Ward of the city. It is near the Motomachi shopping street, which is a popular commercial and dining area and particularly for expats in the area.

For two Christmases, I volunteered as a reader during the midnight Mass of Christmas Eve and the English Mass on Christmas Day. December 25 is not a holiday in Japan and so most of my friends at Yamate including fellow members of the Sacred Heart Guild had work. As I was a post-graduate student, my schedule was relatively flexible. In fact, my sensei even told me I could take the day off during Christmas Day. I usually did take half the day off and would be back at the laboratory in the afternoon.

As Christmas Day, if it fell on a weekday, is not an official holiday in Japan most would come to the late night Mass including non-Catholics and non-Christians who celebrated with us. These include Japanese who were married to Catholics (mostly foreigners) who also lined up during Holy Communion when the priest-celebrant would also give God's blessings to non-Christians in the congregation in lieu of the Host.

I fondly remember the Midnight Mass of December 24, 1998 (my third and last Christmas in Yokohama) when it was the Bishop of Yokohama who concelebrated the Mass and I was all dressed up to deliver the First Reading (in English) on the special occasion when both Japanese and expats celebrated in a Mass where the choir was from the Protestant Church in the same neighborhood (Yamate's choir in turn sang at the Protestant Service over at Ferris.). Afterwards, there was no noche buena and we had to commute to our homes on the last trains. The following day was easier because the English Mass was from 10:00AM (just like the Sunday schedule) and there were fewer people in church. Fr. Alfred Burke, OSA celebrated the English Mass on Christmas Day.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I have a lot of happy memories of Christmas and it is not just about the gifts, the food, and other material things. I think most of the happy memories are about family and friends. Christmas and the celebrations are a lot about companionship and fellowship - opportunities to renew and strengthen bonds. The sermon at the Mass last night was a good reminder for a lot of us that Christmas is about love. It is about giving oneself to others just as God gave Himself for our salvation. It is always a happy time and we should equate happiness not with material things but with being able to connect with others and to give a part of oneself.

Gloria in excelsis deo! A Blessed Christmas to all!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Shopping - Now

Christmas shopping nowadays is both easy and difficult. People will say it is easy for people who have money. I agree with this perspective but I must also add that these days it is also easy for people who are on a budget since there are so many choices nowadays from where people can purchase gifts and others desirable for Christmas.

There is the online option for people who are comfortable with the internet. There are many ways to make payments for online purchases including using one's credit card, bank transfers and for the more experienced, PayPal. There are many online stores nowadays that include the formal stores by well known brands or vendors (Apple Store, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) and then there are the "resellers" or middlemen operating something like amateur stores that are advertised via word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter and other means. Of course, it goes without saying that one should always check whether something is legit or not. That way, one may not be swindled out of his/her hard-earned cash.

For those who want to shop the old-fashioned way, there are the many malls including the popular SM's, Robinsons', Ayalas and Gaisanos found in major cities around the country. Each mall would have its own attractions and each group would have their own promos and come-ons to attract customers. In fact, the competition these days is so tough that the large malls are practically beside each other (e.g., Megamal vs Galleria, SM City North EDSA vs Trinoma, etc.). There are still the old shopping centers that include the Araneta Center in Cubao, the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, and the Ayala Center in Makati. Here there are many options for shoppers with varying budgets. Greenhills, in particular, remains a very popular option for many people because of the variety of both items and prices offered there.

Then there are the more pedestrian (read: pang-masa) shopping places like Divisoria and Quiapo in Manila, and Baclaran in Pasay. These offer the cheaper merchandise including toys and other items often derided for being "made in China." Again, some caution must be taken since cheap is also often associated with lesser quality including some items that are alleged to be toxic. It would help if one should be meticulous enough to check the quality of items including verifying whether such items have the PS or other legitimate quality markings from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Shopping is indeed difficult if one does not have the funds but I believe it is also difficult because there are so many choices these days for the shopper. Also, it is always difficult if one does not stick to his/her budget like succumbing to temptations of purchasing more expensive items just because these are "branded" or maybe these are purchased from a major mall (note: the same item might be a little more expensive if purchased at Glorietta rather than at Gaisano). And this is just the same as the case as shopping in the "older" days when people had difficulties keeping within a budget. :)

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Shopping - Then

I've always enjoyed shopping for Christmas presents particularly if it happened to be mine. But kidding aside, as a kid back in the 1970's, I found Christmas shopping quite an interesting task as it meant we got to go to the department stores, usually in Cubao like COD and Farmers, and by the end of the day I would have new clothes and shoes reserved to be worn on Christmas Eve for the Mass and for Christmas day itself. Even my school shoes are usually bought at this time of year rather than before school opened in June so I get to wear a new pair when classes resumed in January.

I have fond memories of trips to Cubao where we did most of our shopping where I got to tag along. . I would always have happy thoughts associated with the COD department store, particularly its third floor where the toys section was located. To a toddler's eyes, an entire floor dedicated to toys would seem like a whole world of fun all around him and I guess that was how I felt back then, marveling at the selection even though I knew I couldn't have them all. I knew though that if we went there I was sure to get something for Christmas and I knew it would be at least one of the toys my parents asked me about while we were there. For refreshments, we usually went to Ali Mall where I was introduced to Shakey's Pizza and got to associate the parlor with the noisy band that played there. If we wanted lighter snacks there were the kiosks at most corners in the Araneta Center where we could get waffles or corndogs.

We always went shopping in the afternoon and concluded our sorties in the evening when the highlight of the day will be revealed. COD was famous for their mechanical diorama depicting Christmas themes. Every year, this display was awaited by people from all walks of life, who converged on every available space in front of the department store building. Traffic along the streets also stopped and at the time I remember you won't hear any complaints as even motorists took time out to watch the spectacle. Afterwards, people simply dispersed and drivers went their way, and peacefully. Of course, it was still Martial Law at the time but I'm sure people will look back to then and say that people were more disciplined and respectful at the time. The last time I checked, the same was still on display in its home for the past few year now - at the gate of the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan.

When I was a teenager and in high school, my parents still took me along for Christmas shopping although I was not that enthusiastic as when I was in grade school. SM was still a department store in Manila and had not yet established itself as a retail giant when I was growing up. They did start building their chain when I was in high school and I remember shopping at the SM Cubao where, as advertised, they got it all and at prices that seemed to all end with 95 centavos (e.g., PhP 29.95, 49.95, 99.95). I pretty much did my own Christmas shopping when I was a junior or senior in high school. My parents decided to give me my Christmas money to get me whatever I wanted knowing I had to keep within a budget plus maybe a few pesos saved from my allowances. I remember deciding not to go with the crowds and instead went to Cubao after Christmas when there were significantly less people and it was not a hassle to commute or go around.

While SM was on the rise, COD sadly was already in decline. Farmers eventually burned in a fire that led to its reconstruction and most stall and stores not returning. Ali Mall, which we also preferred for watching movies, was not able to keep up with times and was only finally overhauled and upgraded not five years ago. By the time I was at university, the first SM City in North EDSA was already completed and the doors opened to a new era of shopping.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Party time!

I've been raring to write about parties, particularly the kind we celebrate during this season of joy. December being the month when we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is a month filled with activities. It does not help that amidst the Christmas and New Year preparations, we tend to mix it up with year-end reports, cramming for deadlines and other activities that contribute to each day becoming toxic.

The Clairvoyant has been nursing a cold the past 2 weeks and my immune system seems to have been able to resist the virus only until yesterday when the tell-tale symptoms of a cold started to manifest. Even as I write, I am actually clearing my throat and feeling the soreness despite drinking hot beverage to remedy the problem. It is actually a delaying tactic for I feel it is inevitable that I will be going down with a serious case of the colds. Vitamins can only help when it is not yet there but when it is, nutrients will help lessen the impacts of sickness.

Yet, we still go on like the Energizer bunny - participating in parties and other activities that we juggle with our workload. Christmas, after all, is a time to celebrate no matter if there are deadlines to beat or reports to be written and submitted. It is an excuse to give oneself a break and even lower one's guard in as far as schedules are concerned. For aren't we afraid of being called scrooges? Killjoys? I certainly am not one and I am very happy to see friends and colleagues with their families coming together to celebrate as one big happy family.

Party on!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Arrival of the 'ber' months

I checked my posts on Septembers past since I started blogging and saw that I never wrote about this month being the start of what is perhaps the longest Christmas season in the world. As far as I can remember, some radio stations start playing Christmas songs from the 1st day of the month. Certain radio stations play it as part of their regular programs, others to humor their listeners about the arrival of the 'ber' months.

The entry of the 'ber' months also signal the beginning of months when temperatures become more comfortable. Rains during August and September tend to cool the ground and the environment in general and as nights become noticeably longer, they also become noticeably cooler - often with a gentle breeze in areas where the urban heat has not affected climate. December through February are typically the coldest months in the Philippines, thanks to the cold winds coming from Siberia and other cold areas in the north.

Of course, last year September brought in Ondoy and Pepeng towards the end of the month, and expectations for Christmas quickly turned into feelings of despair. The joyous season eventually prevailed, seemingly showing that even powerful typhoons and their aftermaths aren't strong enough to overcome Christmas. This year, people are more watchful after the weather bureau declared the end of El Nino and the beginning of La Nina in September. Perhaps this watchfulness will be a saving grace for most or many, a watchfulness that will eventually transform into anticipation that is the hallmark of Advent. After all, it is always important to remember that Christmas is that joyful season when we remember and celebrate the birth of Our Lord.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Interrupted?

The gifts are all wrapped up and grouped and bagged accordingly. A cool breeze announces each December morning. There's the sound of carolers, mostly children singing to homes of their playmates. (Thankfully, there are none of the adults that tend to pressure one to allow them to sing - whether intentionally or not.) Christmas won't be delayed and not even the events of the past quarter - typhoons, massacres and now, a volcanic eruption - can stop this most anticipated season, especially in the Philippines.

We have always been a happy people. In the face of disasters we always come out being able to transcend the challenges, the stresses, the disappointments and frustrations associated with whatever disaster or trials that come our way. I'd like to think that political leadership (or the lack of it) is the only hindrance to us being happy AND wealthy at the same time.

Indeed, if material things are to be the basis for happiness, a lot of us won't even make the cut for many of those surveys that get published in newspapers or online. Formal studies do not do justice at all to how we celebrate Christmas, or more appropriately, how we celebrate our lives. Life after all is what is important and it is the gift of life that we celebrate in Christmas. Come to think of it, we are actually celebrating an Easter - our resurrection after a passion-filled past months.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I have been aching to blog since the holiday break started. Unfortunately, I've successfully fought the urge and have gone online only to check on my e-mail as well as my Facebook account. I still believe though that holidays are best spent with loved ones and to recharge batteries so that I can be energized in preparation for the new year.

There was indeed a lot to be thankful for in the past year. 2008 has been a very good year. I wouldn't want to call it luck. All the blessings were graces that were the result of genuine hard, honest work guided by the Lord. There are a lot of people I am also thankful to and thankful for. Without them, a lot of the good things and results wouldn't have been possible if not for their inputs and cooperation.

I look forward to 2009 and am hopeful for a peaceful and prosperous year tempered by the experiences, the wisdom gained from 2008 and the years past.