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Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Eve and Our Custom

Filipinos are known to be superstitious and we have lots of trends which we follow. I heard that we got our custom from the Spaniards and Chinese who also believe in many superstitions. I would love to share some of the things I knew that we sincerely follow on New Year's Eve. Today is the 30th of December and I am excited for tomorrow night. In fact I bought some fruits already for tomorrow as part of this trend. The photos below are my preparation for the New Year's Eve. Here are the custom that are very common to all Filipino families.

  • We make sure that all our family members are awake before midnight, and everybody is home and stay together until its 12:00 midnight. We believe that if we do so then we will be together as family through out the year.
  • We make sure that we have something round on our tables like oranges, grapes, watermelon, kiwi etc... This tradition came from Chinese and we believe that by doing this we are welcoming the year with wealth and prosperity.
  • We welcome the New Year with firecrackers and making all sorts of noise.
  • Before midnight, we make sure that our rice box and other food jars are full and not empty. This custom gives us hope and faith that we will not be hungry through out the year. We will always have food on our table and not be lacking of things we need.
  • During midnight, there will be a siren and that indicates that it is already the start of the New Year. When the siren starts parents ask kids to keep jumping until the siren is over. I did this myself when I was a kid believing that I will grow taller when I jump.
  • All families gather together to eat and celebrate then after midnight we can already visit our friends and also eat whatever food they prepare.

Filipinos are really superstitious and full of trends. To some it may be ridiculous to do all of these practices. I see it the other way, whether or not these custom are really true and working or not it only shows how Filipinos show their faith. We are people that are full of hope and good faith. We welcome good things in our families and our homes and we stay together through ups and downs as family. God bless the Filipinos and everyone. I wish you all a blessed year to come.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Christmas for Filipinos

I looked around me; I sawmany people and most of them are my fellow Filipinos. Life here is tough if you know what the word tough means. Tough here means you don’t have enough money for substantial food and luxury. Tough here means, you only have enough food for the day and you have to work another day to be able to have food on your table again. Also, tough here means you work for eight hours a day and you only earn 200 to 250 pesos a day and you go home after work and budget your money for food and needs of your family. You cannot afford to be sick and be hospitalized for few days because you don’t have savings for that. But I am not trying to let you see the negative side of this life. I am showing you the beauty of it that despite these challenges around us or within us, life is still good, specially that Christmas is there. And Christmas to Filipino people is very special than any other season of the year. Despite the hardship of life here, Christmas never became an ordinary celebration. It is the reward for all the troubles that we had for the past months.

Filipinos, start playing Christmas songs as early as September and many people would probably ask why. We are people who are full of hope; we anticipate good things coming on our way. We tend to welcome the good season as early as we can. We see things farther and dream bigger than what we can be. We are excited about many things. We do not treat holiday as a regular day when other people still spend time to work and be busy with their regular tasks. It’s not because we are lazy people but we love to gather with our loved ones and once in a while to celebrate together. Since Christmas is the biggest season, we want to feel the atmosphere of it longer and extend our celebration if possible. In fact by September you can already see lanterns, Christmas lights, Christmas balls and other Christmas decorations displayed in malls and vendors sell them in the sidewalks. At September, some towns or provinces start building the “BELEN” which is one of our traditional Christmas symbol as Filipinos. Belen is a representation of the nativity. Most Filipino families would build the nativity miniatures in their houses as a symbol for Christmas. In the beginning of December you will witness some teenagers who would sing Christmas Carols to every house with their musical instruments like the guitar and tambourine to collect some amount for a certain project they want to achieve. By doing it, the families that they offer Christmas carols would give them any amount they can or any gift they can in return for their serenade.

When it’s Christmas, family members that are working far would do their best to spend the holiday together with their families. We save money for our travel if we are working far from home so we can celebrate with them. We make sure that we attend the mass early in the morning from the 16th of December until the very day of Christmas. We believe that if we complete the mass, our wishes will come true and God honors it more. The night of the 24th of December we make sure that we have food on our table for “Noche Buena”. When the hand of the clock pointed at 12 midnight, we start to eat the meal that we prepared. Usually we make native foods like desserts made of sticky rice and rice cakes. For those families who can afford to prepare a big meal, they usually buy a pig and grill it whole. We call it “Lechon Baboy”. It is a common type of food you will see on our table when there is a big celebration. Then we share our foods to our neighbors as well. We prepare gifts for each other, games and other activities for kids while we wait for the day of Christmas. Then we also pray together as family.

Lechon Baboy

Christmas Belen

Our celebration is not based on how much we have on our table, it is on how we gather together and be happy out what we have. It is based also on how grateful we are for whatever blessings we received for the year. We have simple life but we experience the real Christmas. We are Filipinos and we are Blessed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pinoy Taste

Filipinos compared to other Asians have different taste in many things. We have a distinct taste in food, fashion and interests. With food, most Filipinos would crave for something that is spicy and tasty like pork adobo, sisig (sizzling), pancit (noodles), caldereta and sweet and sour fish. Usually these types of foods require rice to eat them and we call it our heavy meal. We also love to cook fish and meat with vinegar like paksiw: a fish cooked in vinegar and other spices like black pepper, garlic and onion. Using vinegar in cooking is so common here unlike in other countries they seldom use it as main ingredient for their cooking. For snacks and other lighter meal, Filipinos prefer crunchy or crispy foods. Just like when Filipino fry a chicken, let’s say the breast part, we fry it until it’s brown and crispy unlike westerners, they like their chicken cooked in low fire and serve it tender and juicy. Filipino teenagers and also older ones who still have strong teeth love to eat chicharon or chips and dip it with vinegar. Dipping with vinegar is so common and some foreigners find it funny because it's unusual, they prefer mayonnaise and cheese or other type of sauce for dipping. With that, I can say that Filipino taste is more on salty, sour and spicy combination for food. It is also part of our daily lives to have a break and have some snacks which we call merrienda and it falls mostly at 3 o’clock pm. Every family would buy snacks and eat together. The most common merrienda are sweet bread, cooked banana, pancit (noodles) or any other easy to cook food. Within the neighborhood, you will always find a mom selling merrienda. The thing about Filipinos is, we can eat without so many requirements and we are happy as long as we eat together with our family.

I have learned so many things about the differences between a Filipino and non-filipino when it comes to food and cooking. Just one example is that Filipino sauté, boil and fry foods. We don’t do much of broiling or baking. We, Filipinos have a nice kitchen and another one that we call “dirty kitchen” which is not really dirty. Probably a little messier because that’s where we cook through wood or charcoal. Isn’t it really interesting to realize these differences? I find it really interesting to talk about and it makes me proud to be a Filipino. All of these is part of my daily life and part of who i am. We live a simple life and we are different from many but we are not definitely indifferent people.