So to Christmas in the Philippines, fireworks going off every evening, food consumed in massive quantities and of course, having embraced the Christian faith, houses adorned with various religious symbols to celebrate the holiday.
You haven’t truly experienced a Filipino Christmas till you’ve spent one in a local bario (suburb) and to add that extra bit of flavour ensure it’s not a well too do one in Manila.
For the last week we have been graced with night time visitors. They come in all shape and sizes, bearing plastic tins used for drums, old guitars and pretty much any old instrument that can be dug out that will still produce a noise.
I am of course referring to the Carolers. Groups of children will wonder the streets stoping at every door and producing sounds that vary from cats being strangled to very passable renditions of old Christmas favourites.
By the third night the novelty has pretty much worn off and all the spare change in the house has been utilised to either reward or to buy silence. The Filipinos actually have a word used to chase these caroling groups.
Patawad basically means no money, so don’t bother singing, move along and bother the neighbours. It’s a special word reserved exclusively for the musical street urchins hell bent on raising enough money for whatever delights they desire for Christmas.
As I write this another group has assembled in from of the gate. They have a distinct Mexican sound and aren’t half bad. It’s a catchy Filipino tune sung with gusto and against my better judgment I can feel my hand looking through my pockets for change.
Here then to a festive week ahead in the heart of a small bario in Luzon, I am sure it is going to be a festive one, albeit not so quiet.