In behalf of all the Filipino bloggers from the Oceania, The Pacific Breeze would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and a Bountiful New Year! ...though in Australia, city councils would officially hang banners saying, “Season’s Greetings!” in respect to the country’s non-religious or non-Christian populace.
I still believe, though, that Christmas is the celebration above all other celebrations as it immortalizes the birth of Jesus—our Redeemer, as well as reminding us to appear and walk in the ‘light’ while looking forward to His coming in glory.
It is a common reflection for most, if not all, of the overseas Filipinos that Christmas celebration back home is really special. The Simbang Gabi that started centuries ago and has lived for generations is one of the activities that have made Christmas in the Philippines unparalleled, so far, hence igniting a Global Filipino’s desire to come ‘home’ every December. The tradition, I believe, is deeply-rooted that for a faithful, Simbang Gabi is primarily dedicated to The Nativity, then to each member of the devoted Filipino family who faithfully attends the early-morning masses—a vivid picture of ‘a family that prays together, stays together’. Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo, therefore, mean more than just a belief of granted wishes after completing the Christmas novena.
Filipinos in Australia who were previously employed in the Philippines, like me, must be desperately longing for their ‘thirteenth month pay’ and ‘Christmas bonus’. I’ve been in this continent for almost four years but I haven’t heard of these terms here; and if these words exist in the dictionary of the OFWs in Middle East, Europe, and America as well as in our Asian neighbours, I’d say they’re lucky.
Some Filipino families with members working overseas must be anticipating for the hero’s homecoming by now. Certainly, there are more than a million episodes of jubilation in the arrival area of the international airports across the country, as well as in Duty Free Philippines this month as the balikbayan arrives and takes his entire family for Christmas shopping. On the other hand, there are Filipino families that, I’m sure, are checking the closest Western Union outlets or ATM’s and banks, post offices, LBC stations, or patiently waiting for the Forex delivery vans for some cash and luxurious Christmas gifts from the family’s hero who cannot make it for the Holidays.
...and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day up to the New Year’s Day there will surely be a lavish banquet and drinks spilling over the tables of the wealthy.
While we are partying and enjoying the holidays, it is also great to remember our brothers and sisters who are so unfortunate to have lesser blessings than what we have. I believe that we don’t really need to donate some generous amounts to the humanitarian or charitable agency; all we have to do is simply look outside our windows—behind and below our lighted parols, move out of our doorstep—visit the household next door and downstairs or even the family across the street and the village nearby. Who knows, our extra piece of ensaimada, a thin slice of hamon, a quarter of queso de bola and a drop of hot tsokolate are more than enough to rekindle the spirit of Christmas within our brethren’s lonely hearts.
► Read RJ's previous articles here.