Travels

Forty Days to Go!

November 12th, 2008

The prelude to a thrilling and exciting Christmas break is the actual emptying of your pocket. Agree or disagree? After all, before you can “enjoy” the holiday season – you need a considerable amount of cold cash in your hands. However much you say that it’s the thought that matters, hay naku, can you monetize your thoughtfulness for a bus fare? Round trip? Can you just ignore your hordes of godchildren and relatives when they come knocking at your doorsteps? On one thought, this fact cease to sound squeamish when we think that hey, it’s the season of love and giving! For God’s sake, stop whining. 🙂

These past few weeks, we have been contemplating on spending our much-awaited Christmas in Pili. In fact, Faith and Elmo agreed to give up their scheduled Manila Ocean Park field trip on December 5. They have been waiting for this trip for so long. You wonder why? Well, I guess every child looks at it as their dream destination these days. Ocean Park is quite popular with the kids you know. But since they missed their Lolo Kiks, Lola Bing, and their uncles and aunts in the province, they consented to save the budget instead…much to my delight.

After several years, this is the only time I can again feel the distinct Bicol breeze that I don’t know, I only seem to appreciate in my own hometown. We’re all excited!

My parents have their own brand of surprises…so, even though our family’s not well-to-do, the season is always something we really look forward to. Anyway, let me share some of the traditional activities we normally busy ourselves with during this time of the year:

1. Christmas Tree-making. I and my siblings would usually design our own Christmas tree made from either coconut palm (we remove the pinnate leaves) or any indigenous shrub (sorry, I forgot the local name) and put cotton all over the branches to make it look like a real snow-covered tree. Armed with our knives and bolo, we would scour the nearest farm for our tree. Once ready, Nanay would go to the banwaan (central market or town) to purchase a vast selection of accessories and ornaments, garlands, tree toppers of good quality but of a relatively affordable price. The finished product not only awe us but it also makes relatives marvel at our creativity. Then we would place it inside an empty milk can that we fill with stones so that it would carry the tree’s weight. Plus we also cover the can so it wouldn’t look rusty and all. Just like that and presto, we have a decent looking Christmas tree!

2. Lantern – Making. Thankfully, I have a father who’s a jack-of-all-trades. He can do everything from farming to electronics, etc. Oh by the way, he’s a frustrated engineer who ended up taking an assortment of basic courses. Our lantern project (parol) look way nicer than the others because he would put inside lighting effects. For the raw materials, we would usually use bamboo, Japanese paper, sometimes we paste rice grains on the exterior depending on our mood (hehe. mood-dependent decors?).

3. Preparing our “handa” for the Noche Buena. Nanay would prepare her sweetest ubeng halaya, her unforgettable pork barbecue, the ubiquitous spaghetti, her signature suman, the saucy pork (gosh, pardon for i dont know the name — I only remember its super delicious taste!), pancit, and many more. Friends, inaanaks, and relatives would troop to our home to enjoy these delectable meals my mother expertly whips in her kitchen. They may not equal the recipes you see on television commercials, those mouth-watering pictures spread throughout the pages of Good Housekeeping, or those you have tasted on the tables of the more affluent households, but for me, they are the best because they gave color and meaning to my childhood days. If it werent, I wouldnt even be writing about it.

4. Waiting for the elusive Santa Claus. For some reasons, my 3 sisters and 2 brothers did have a hard time catching up with Santa. Textbooks or any other source for that matter did not explicitly reveal the ways to grab hold of the white-fat-man-in-red-suit while in action.  Well, Nanay and Tatay warned us that if we dont sleep early, Santa would not bring his presents and our socks will remain empty the next day. It had always been like that up until I reached third grade where I discovered their secret. Hehe. But the joys of seeing our socks brim with sweets, chocolates, candies (that we dont get to have all year round) is beyond compare. That said, I did not dare squeal to the younger ones.

5. Christmas Caroling. In the Binanuaanan tradition, barangay officials (sometimes the SK) would send in letters detailing the caroling event. Whats good about this is that even the OSYs would participate, in fact, everyone. By everyone I mean teenagers (tagging behind the object of their affection), the unsuspecting parents (?!), the Tanods (haha carolers need ‘protection’ from the bad elements), the SB and SK officials and their respective members. Its a living tradition within the context of Binanuaanan itself. Every year, people look forward to being entertained as well as being reminded of Jesus Christ’s birth through songs. During my SK and theater days I’d gladly organize similar activities. And from what I can remember — carolers use drums made of gasoline containers, cymbals borrowed from the primary school’s DLC, guitars, but maybe this time around things have changed. We’ll find out.

Sometimes, even the simplest of things can be intoxicating to the heart! Forty days from now, we will be reliving the most blissful moments of our lives…this time with my own kids. What’s a few bucks to expend anyway if it brings you a world of happiness???

Advance Merry Christmas to everyone!!!

About Jasmine

February 19th, 2008

I attribute good choice to sound self-knowledge. Highly significant or otherwise, decisions are always a serious matter to bat. The choices we make define our person and our decisions either make or break us. As Lao Tzu once said: “knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is a true wisdom; mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power”. Many of us encounter unbearable failure and unspeakable pain because of inability to appreciate what dwells within ourselves. Not that I perfectly know my inner self, in fact, I’ve always believed I’m still a work in progress.

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