Monday, September 3, 2012

Filipinos Start Christmas in September

Giant lanterns in the form of candy treats hang at the Grand Atrium of the Shangri-la Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City last Christmas (2011).  The mall features a unique theme every year.  I wonder what their theme would be this Christmas?
The dance of a million fairies... oops, they're just "dancing" Christmas lights hanging from the trees in the Ayala Triangle Gardens.  This was taken last year (2011).

It's weird!  I know.  Filipinos go all-out in celebrating Christmas.  Whenever the the start of the "ber" months (i.e., Septem-ber, Octo-ber, November-ber, and Decem-ber) arrive, you'll start seeing signs of Christmas.  Hence, the longest Christmas celebration in the entire world happens here in the Philippines (unofficially of course, but hey, you see it's really more fun in the Philippines!).  My neighbor without fail for 5 years now (since they moved in next door) put up their Santa Claus, poinsettia wreaths, and Filipino Christmas lanterns every September 1.  Also, would you believe that radio programs would start playing "jingle bells" and other Christmas carols, and begin their "countdown" to Christmas in September?  Totally weird, right?  There must be an explanation!

Filipinos are probably the most fun-loving creatures on Earth.  I blame the "conquistadores" who subjugated the Philippines five centuries ago and the Spanish friars who enslaved Filipinos for so long!  Oh, so is it a bad thing to be fun-loving?  No not really!  If you think however, the reason why Filipinos turned out this way, saying that it's "weird" may be well-founded.  You see, the Philippines has been under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years.  During those times the rights of the FIlipinos to education were suppressed.  The conquerors did not wish for the common "Indio" (i.e., the term used by Spanish conquerors in referring to indigenous people of their colonies) to learn what "freedom" is about because they certainly did not wish for any revolution.  Thus, aside from preventing the "Indios" to rightful education, the conquerors also introduced "fiestas" and other forms of "merriment" to keep the wandering minds of Indios busy.  Isn't it totally insidious?!  Ultimately, the purpose of those "fun events" was to keep the people enslaved for a very long time of course, without the people knowing about it.  Three centuries was more than enough to firmly fix in the Filipino subconscious that "celebrations" especially Christmas is something to look forward to - because it's awesomely fun.  Fiestas held in every month, commemorating saints or patrons, even celebrating flowers and animals (LOL!) are the truly great schemes of the conquerors that blocked the mind and shut the mouth!

Information overload?  Do you sense a bit of anger there?  LOL!   Yes, I admit.  There's a teeny tiny feeling of annoyance when I remember some of my lessons in humanities and the works of Filipino heroes in the 19th century back in college.  Somehow through the passing of time, the real reasons behind these gaiety and fun have been forgotten.  What remained are the traditions and probably some twisted explanation as to why these celebrations are held.  And then the traditions live on as they were passed on to the next generations...

Not all's downside, of course.  The so-called "ingrained sense of gaiety and fun" became a "coping mechanism" for many FIlipinos.   It has reinforced "Pinoy pliability" and became the backbone for "Pinoy resilience" especially exhibited during natural disasters or economic upheavals hitting the common Juan dela Cruz.  This, I suppose, outweighs the ugly origins and in itself is a cause for celebration!  LOL! (In case you didn't know, the term "Pinoy" is a colloquial for the word "Filipino".  "Juan dela Cruz" is the most common name perhaps of Filipinos which is used to refer to a Filipino, much like a John Doe referring to an American.)

As for the real reason why the Christmas celebrations in the Philippines (unofficially) starts in September is unknown.  I can only surmise that the reasons (yes, there are many) are as follows: (1) Christmas is considered by many Filipinos as the most important holiday (due to religious beliefs)(2) the Christmas season spells long holidays where Filipinos can visit their relatives in the provinces; and (3) monetary bonuses, gifts, and incentives given during Christmas time.  The anticipation and excitement therefore is great.  The grand displays embellishing the cities are naturally part of the excitement as well.  As such, I suppose, FIlipinos wanted to celebrate Christmas as early as they could.  LOL!

I bet this year would be a better year with all those news about improvements in the economy of the Philippines.  I will (hopefully) post the beautiful street decors, window displays, light shows, grandiose trees, spectacular events, even houses in full Christmas splendor.  Most Filipinos go full blast after the "All Saints Day" and the "All Souls Day" in the first week of November.

Before that, let me share with you last year's Christmas displays.  As shown above, I have a short video of the dancing lights hanging from the trees of the Ayala Triangle Garden in Makati City.  (I hope they will have another one this year.)  There are some more short clips below on the display of Rustan's and Ayala Ave..  I also have some pictures of the Christmas trees that different malls have displayed.  Of course, aside from these wonderful displays, nothing could beat the sincere heart of the Filipinos in sharing their blessings to families, friends and even strangers in whatever special occasion there is.  (Yes, strangers.  In fiestas, you could go to any house and eat there until you're full.  Filippino hospitality to its zenith.)  Whoa, so if you want to experience the best Christmas ever, come to the Philippines and celebrate with us Christmas for several months!  Awesome!  It's more fun in the Philippines.

Ride along Ayala Ave..  See the 2011 Christmas display adorning the lampposts of the central business district's main avenue.

Dripping lights at Rustan's Department Stores.

2011 Christmas display of Market-Market Mall in Taguig City.
Huge Filipino lanterns adorning the facade of Glorietta 4 Mall in Makati City. (2011 Christmas)
Giant ball lanterns of Megamall in Mandaluyong City. (2011 Christmas)
Traditional western Christmas tree in Market-Market Mall in Taguig City.  (2011 Christmas)
LED-lighted Christmas tree in Glorietta Malls in Makati City.  (2011 Christmas)
One giant Christmas tree at the park between Glorietta 4 and 5 malls in Makati City.  (2011 Christmas)
This had to be the WEIRDEST Christmas tree ever.  Shards of glass adorn the tree.  The tree is made of dried tree branches painted in silver.  It is displayed in one high-end Italian clothing store in Glorietta Mall.  (2011 Christmas)
This has got to be the most elegant giant Christmas trees.  Displayed at the lobby of Shangri-la Mall in Mandaluyong City.  (2011 Christmas)
Most sophisticated Christmas tree (because of the name beside it - LOL!).  Displayed at Rustan's Department Store in Makati City.  (2011 Christmas)
Wannabe Christmas tree.  Fake!  Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

1 comment:

  1. Christmas Philippines 2012 is now fast approaching. I hope that I could also see the things you are introducing into your blog. Thanks for sharing this to us.