Christmas in the Philippines after the disasters

By , on December 19, 2013

Blacksoup staff distributing sandwiches & drinks to street families. Photo from Facebook Page of Blacksoup+Artspace Café.
Blacksoup staff distributing sandwiches & drinks to street families. Photo from Facebook Page of Blacksoup+Artspace Café.

It will still be a merry Christmas after all.

With just a few months after massive disasters struck the Philippines, amazingly, Christmas spirit is still very much alive. Flickering lights are still found in the busy streets of Metro Manila and Christmas rush is still in—but one thing has changed.

Everyone nurtured the thought of giving more.

Donations over personal luxuries. With several fundraising activities being held to help earthquake and typhoon victims, the priorities of people on which to spend their money has somewhat changed.

T.V. personality Regine Tolentino and her family will still celebrate Christmas, but the value of gifts that they will give out will not be the same as in the previous years. “My family has always celebrated Christmas quite simply. We come together, have dinner and exchange gifts. This year, we will probably tone it down in terms of the value of our gifts,” she said.

Actress Angel Locsin had previously sold her vintage car so she could donate the money to the victims of the disasters.

While some would still buy gadgets, appliances, expensive jewelries or pamper themselves at spas and restaurants after receiving their Christmas bonus, they would still allocate a portion of their money for donations to their fellowmen in need.

Mall goers, as they shop for gifts, are most often dropping money to the donation cans found at the malls.

Setting aside food for the victims of disasters. It has been a tradition to prepare sumptuous foods every 24th of December as we welcome Christmas day. As we share good food on Christmas Eve, our brothers and sisters in central Philippines will celebrate Christmas with canned goods and instant noodles on their meal tables.

To pay respect to the victims of the previous disasters that visited the Philippines, many have decided to just prepare a simple dinner.

T.V. actress Cita Astals believes that many Filipinos will spare some food for the victims of disasters. She said, ”We should still celebrate, but in an austere manner. I know that a lot of us, including myself, have set aside money and groceries to send to those affected by the disasters—that’s a good thing.”

Blacksoup Café +Artspace, a restaurant owned by theatre and film actor Bodjie Pascua had previously held a fundraising concert to help disaster victims. This Christmas season, they are also doing a project they call “Suspended Noche Buena Meals,” wherein their guests have a chance to buy one Noche Buena meal to be distributed in street families in Quezon City on Christmas Eve.

At supermarkets, sets of Noche Buena meals are also available. Those who want to share their blessings with the victims of the recent disasters can buy these.

Simple dinner over Christmas parties. In the previous years, companies and organizations had made it a point to hold extravagant Christmas parties to give back and share with their employees the success that they had reaped in the year that passed. This year, this scene will not be the same, at least for some.

For one, the owners of Café Mary Grace had decided to hold their company party in their home instead of a hotel to give more to those who truly need it.

University of Santo Tomas’s annual “Paskuhan” will not also be the same overflowing of foods event just like in the recent years. The oldest university in the Philippines had opted to celebrate it a little simpler this year to empathize and share more.

Some companies will not also give away expensive raffle items this year in order to donate more to those affected by the disasters.

In our own little ways, we can share our blessings with others who need it the most. Though it has been a tradition to spoil ourselves as Christmas season ushers, let us think again; our fellowmen had lost so much this year, what is a little sacrifice so you can contribute to their renewed hope.

Celebration of Christmas this year in terms of material things may change, but the spirit of giving and sharing remains the same.

Merry Christmas and may we find in our hearts the genuine meaning of this joyful celebration!