Philippines Christmas Recap

December 26, 2008 - Filed under General

It’s been Christmas here in the Philippines since we arrived here in September. Even as we were first deplaning in Cebu, there were Christmas carols playing over the boarding gate speakers. The stores were full of Christmas decorations and fake Christmas trees. Advertisements and commercials were everywhere telling us to prepare for Christmas by buying something. Anything. JUST DO IT NOW!

Needless to say, by the time Christmas actually rolled around we were somewhat desensitized to the very idea of Christmas. No tree this year. We didn’t want to buy presents for each other… It’s just more stuff to carry on our travels. Maybe a trip somewhere in the new year? We were hoping to get a turkey for Christmas dinner, but our freezer isn’t very big. And on our weekly trip to town we discovered that all the turkeys had already been sold. No family here to celebrate with… It was shaping up to be a very un-Christmassy Christmas.

In an attempt to get into the spirit, Kelly made fudge (!thanks for the recipe Linda!) and Christmas cookies. Then Andrew and Chantal (the couple we went to Bais with) invited us over for Christmas Eve dinner. And a day later Cita and Herman (who own the house we’re staying in) asked us to come to their Christmas day celebration. Maybe Christmas wasn’t going to be just another day after all?

So, with a tray of cookies in hand we took a jeepney into town and after scoffing back a Lipovitan (kinda like Redbull, lots of caffeine and sugar) we took a trike to Andrew and Chantal’s house. The local tradition here is to eat a ton of food, go to church for midnight mass, then come home and open presents and eat more until the sun comes up.

Ning Ning gets a present

During Christmas, the children of the Philippines wander door to door caroling. It’s common to give them each a few pesos afterward. Andrew lives on a very busy street for carolers and had been shelling out hundreds of pesos throughout the week. Earlier in the week; when we weren’t aware of the tradition, a group of about 20 kids had come by and sung at our gate. We took some pictures, thanked them, and closed the gate. We never saw another caroler at our house! Our neighbours must think we’re Scrooges.

Andrew and Chantal along with their mothers and Chantal’s cousin, niece and nephews… and a couple aunts… had made a huge spread of chicken, pork, red cabbage and beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy. We cracked a bottle of Tanduay rum, a few bottles of wine, and toasted the chefs. After dinner, none of us being overly religious, we skipped mass and went straight to opening presents. Chantal has 5 cats and 3 dogs, so while the kids were opening their presents, so were the rest of the zoo. We even had a couple presents to unwrap. Thanks Andrew and family! Another one of the Christmas traditions here is to throw candies and coins into the air while all the kids scramble on the ground, picking up the sweets and money. Watching the kids unwrap their presents and thanking their family with kisses was great. Celebrating with Andrews family had finally put us into the spirit.


We hung out for a few more hours, then headed out to the El Dorado Beach Resort to catch the end of the Miss El Dorado beauty pageant. Each year El Dorado has a staff party where one person from each department enters the competition. By the time we arrived, everyone was very drunk and very funny. We partied on with them until the wee hours of the morning.

Miss El Dorado

Santa Gary and some of the El Dorado staff

The next day with the compulsory Tanduay hangover, we were awoken by the fishing village next door celebrating with a cranked karaoke machine. I put our turkey replacement of 2 chickens into a brine where they would soak till the evening. If you’ve never brined a chicken, you have to try it. It makes the most tender, tasty meat ever.


We soon headed to Cita’s Christmas party. They had made lechon (roasted pig) and lots of fruit and noodle dishes. You have to have an appetite when you go to a party here. It’s all about the eating! After lunch, the games began. I’m not going to pretend I understood what they were all about. There was the “Walk Like a Lady” game where they dressed the boys up in a skirt with a purse and an umbrella and relay raced against another team. Apparently I’m not a fast cross dresser, because my team lost that one… “You’re sure you do this every year?”

Mike in a skirt

There was the blindfolded “Whack a tomato” game.

Whack the tomato? Huh?

The always popular musical chairs.

Musical chairs

And “Don’t Drop the Tomato Dancing”…

tomato dancing

When we came home, we made Christmas dinner. Chicken, stuffing, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy. It wasn’t turkey, but it was awesome. A perfect way to wrap up the festivities. At the end of it all, we had unneccesarily worried that Christmas was going to be just another day and we’re very thankful to our new friends for including us in their celebrations and making us feel welcome. I’m looking forward to New Years.

Posted by: Shim

4 Comments so far

  1. lil December 26, 2008 4:25 am

    I’m glad the Christmas turned out to be a hit. Merry Christmas from across the globe!

  2. Kelly December 26, 2008 4:58 am

    thanks lil! hope you had a great one as well!

  3. lyn December 26, 2008 10:10 am

    Great to see you had a good one!! Merry Christmas from Northern Ireland :) love and best wishes for New Year (Mike you make a lovely “lady” – kelly you might want to keep an eye on that!) Lyn xx

  4. Shim December 26, 2008 10:14 am

    Hey Lyn, good to see you made it home! Merry Xmas and have a happy New Year! Are you hitting on me? ;)


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