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Paskong Pinoy: Joy to the World

Filipinos brighten up in delight as they make merry the long celebrations of the Christmas season. As soon as the “Ber” months kick in, shimmering lights are stringed out on the canopies and windowpanes of many a home. Ornate Christmas trees suddenly sprout one by one at various plazas. Decorative lanterns dangle in homes and churches, lighting them up as only the holidays can. Candy canes, boxes of presents, Belen, and even Santa Claus riding on a one-reindeer open sleigh start to adorn what were once empty spaces or bare gardens.

The Philippines, being a predominantly Christian country resulting from Spanish colonization for over three centuries, is also widely known for the Simbang Gabi, a series of Eucharistic masses from the nights of December 16 up to December 24. In some areas, they call it Misa de Gallo as each mass is held during the dawn of the succeeding day. This is when most families and relatives gather as a complete whole, most especially in rural areas, as they flock together to the church.

Another pervasive element of Filipino Christmas is caroling. Children often walk the streets of their barangays, stop by at each home and sing one or two sweet-sounding Christmas carols, and wait expectantly for the Aguinaldo from the generous Titos, Titas, Lolos, Lolas, Nanays, Tatays, Ates, or Kuyas at home at that time. After that, they will sing “Thank you. Thank you. Ang babait ninyo, thank you!” to show gratitude for their kind hearts.

Just as importantly, the spirit of gift-giving is one of the most special ways Filipinos celebrate the Christmas season. Associated with their world-famous trait of hospitality, Filipinos exchange presents during Christmas as a way of making other people happy. A Ninong and Ninang giving a gift to his or her godchild is a classic example. They might not see each other regularly, but during Christmas, godparents show their love in the form of a gift, with the goal of making the child happy. Parents also give gifts to their children, and vice versa. Lovers, office colleagues, and friends also exchange gifts. This way, everybody gets to share happiness and express their love during the Christmas season, through gift-giving.

Paskong 2020 is “Home for the Holidays”

However, this 2020, Filipinos have no choice but to mark the yuletide season differently. With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, the government has issued rules and policies that must be followed to prevent the spread of the virus. Some areas in the country, most especially the Metro, were kept under General Community Quarantine or GCQ. Street caroling is banned, while singing at videoke bars is highly discouraged. Health experts also promulgated that gatherings shall be only limited to immediate family members and held at home, or a maximum of 10 people and held outside at a good-ventilated area. Deferment of travel plans is also highly encouraged to inhibit a possible spike of positive COVID-19 cases by the end of the year​.

For now, flocking to churches for Simbang Gabi, physical Christmas parties, street caroling, hanging out at videoke bars, huge family reunions, and other usual Christmas activities that require mass gathering are temporarily out the window.

Still Making Spirits Bright

But if all those characteristics of Paskong Pinoy are prohibited for the meantime, what about gift-giving? Of course, Filipinos remain geared up to still make this season merry and bright through the warmest gifts they could give! It may not cost much, but it is the thought and love that will always count.

Since safety is the utmost priority right now, we can turn to online shopping to accomplish the task of buying our Christmas gifts. Just make sure that your wish list is complete, and in just a few clicks, the items are ready to be picked! Besides, do not miss the chance to get huge discounts for various items across warehouses, shops, stores, and even delivery for couriers which will be offered on December 12 through the now-famous (or infamous?) “12.12” big sale. This is a yearly trend that has recently caught on in the Philippines, like 11.11 and 10.10 of November and October, respectively, which is patronized by the generous, gift-giving Filipinos. And now that most transactions have shifted online, this sale is of course also made available on digital shopping applications and platforms.

Oh Little Santa – When Making a List, Be Sure to Check Twice

This Christmas, let your heart be light. Looking back on how the year has thrown rollercoaster twists and turns on everyone’s lives, it is still by God’s grace that there are people who have consistently cared and looked out for us. The pandemic might have spread terror and chaos—separating us from our colleagues, families, and loved ones—but cheers to the unexpected ones who kept us sane and going.

She could be a neighbor, who checked up on you and left a hot meal, or let you borrow oil when you ran out of supply. He might be your lobby guard who updates you of your orders and brings you the relief goods from your local government during the lockdown. She might be the same delivery personnel assigned to your route, bringing to your door the stuff you picked up online. He might be the janitor who always assisted you in bringing your groceries during those times that you engaged in panic-buying. She might be an office colleague who is just an acquaintance but consistently helped you during your rotational work schedule. He might be a distant relative or friend who never gets tired of messaging you to make sure you are okay.

Believe in the magic of Christmas and send them gifts to show appreciation of the littlest yet valuable things they have done for you while you were battling through one of the most unforeseen times of your life. Make it extra special by knowing what they might really want or need. Use those hidden social media stalking skills for good – for the right purposes. You can look up their profiles and see what they’re interested in, and then log onto your favorite online store and explore the plethora of gifting possibilities. It is not just your family and friends that deserve heartfelt gifts; these angels deserve it, too.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Absolutely, this is the new normal. And in preparing for ‘tis season to be jolly and for you and your loved ones to have an extraordinarily merry Christmas, make sure that you do not encounter a la la la la lag in your connection.

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