Sunday, December 27, 2009

So how was Christmas?

So inevitably, everyone ask you this coming back from the hollidays. Given its my first Christmas here in Philippines, I get a lot of it.

So how was it? In short, it was very very pleasant..

First, the weather was fantastic. It was chilly in the morning and late nights but the late morning and noon sun was in full force. So it was great to go out. The crowd is maddening before Christmas Eve but they were gone on the 24th morning streets are empty. I did a bit of last minute shopping but got in a good amount of exercise and rest.

On Christmas Eve night, I was invited to a family dinner and that was wonderful. Lots of good food, wine and pleasant conversation. I even got a couple of gifts which I did not expect. Gift-giving after so many years of not doing it is really difficult to get back into. I was asked about Christmas in Singapore and other places and I after some thought, I realised that Catholics really do Christmas better than anyone else. I have had great Christmases in Spain, Italy and Pinoys do it just as warm and joyous.

One thing I have to mention which supposedly is a tradition in Philippine. After main dinner, often they do some form of presentation/show. I was told that in the provinces where the families are big, they make everyone put on a show especially the children. I think its the equivalent of yuletide singing that is practised in other places. In my friends case, being the very upward-mobile people that they are, they make their children do all the presentations and singing. It was a riot with the kids being asked to do poems, sing, dance etc. Its a great time for the most precocious. I could not help smiling and laughing all the time.

As to the rest of Christmas, I spent it driving around areas I normally would not go to. Binondo or Chinatown, Quaipo, Malate, Mabini, Pasay. The weather was fantastic for driving and walking around and there was no traffic so I got around easily. You can tell this city was a grand place before World War II and there was so much potential. The opportunities wasted by Marcos was just unbelievable. If not for him, Manila would be the grandest place of all of South East Asia city, the Shanghai of South East Asia.

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