Holidays in the Philippines

It’s the beginning of a new year and we’ve gone on many trips since our last post months ago. Although we have been posting photos regularly on our Instagram page, schedules have made it difficult for us to regularly post on our blog. So, we thought that it would be fitting for us to get back on track by writing about our most recent trip.

img_1338We recently returned from our three-week trip to the Philippines over the holidays to visit family and friends and, of course, feast on heaps of Filipino foods. Our tickets weren’t cheap because we traveled during the peak season, but we haven’t spent the holidays in the Philippines in years, so the price was well worth the trip.

It’s a commonly held opinion among Filipinos that Christmas in the Philippines starts as soon as the first -ber month arrives. As soon as September, lanterns, lights, nativity set-ups, and other decors already adorn many homes. Holiday songs are already played on a loop in department stores and the general mood of the people starts to feel more festive. So when we arrived just a few days before Christmas, the decors, music, church events, carolers, and parties were definitely in full swing.

However, the two main draws for us to spending the holidays in the Philippines are the food and the people. First, the food. Roast pig, or lechon baboy, is one of the mainstays of many Filipino feasts especially during the holidays. So it was no surprise that every celebration we partook in during our three weeks in the Philippines included lechon baboy (six of them to be exact). Native delicacies, or kakanin, commonly made from different types of rice or root crops, are also traditional treats in the Philippines especially during the holidays. These are commonly sold by vendors outside churches after the early morning masses, called Simbang Gabi, which are held every day during the nine days before Christmas.

img_1439
Top: Roast Pig; Middle (L-R): Suman budbud (sticky rice with chocolate), dinuguan (pork blood stew), rellenong bangus (stuffed milkfish); Bottom: Stir-fried crickets

No matter the size of the celebrations, though, spending the holidays with family and friends is usually the highlight of the season, which is the primary reason why we decided to spend the holidays in the Philippines after all this time; most of our relatives and friends live in the Philippines. School is usually out about a week before Christmas and many businesses let their employees go on longer breaks during the holidays. So when we were there, the streets were often busy with people doing their last-minute shopping for gifts and food while enjoying the well-decorated public landmarks with their loved ones. We stayed with family and visited as many relatives as we possibly could during our trip, especially on Christmas and New Year’s days. We also stayed up late hanging out with friends, grabbing a few drinks and chatting until the sun rose, oftentimes ending up getting breakfast together, too.

As in many other countries, the spirit of giving seemed to have also filled the air in the Philippines during the holidays. Carolers, no matter the level of singing ability, were often rewarded for their music by the residents of the houses they visit. Also, many charitable events were held during the holiday season.

We’re not quite sure when we’d get the chance to spend the holidays in the Philippines again. Although I had a horrible time at one of the grocery stores the night before New Year’s Eve (I had to give up my shopping because there were too many people and the lines were horrendous), it was definitely one of the trips on the top of our list.

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