Being at a place for a longer period, makes you get to know the culture better and more intensive. When I first came to the Philippines, I thought I figured it all out. By just looking around I thought I knew the Filipinos as well. Of course this is not true and luckily enough, the country enrich me still every day. Be it positively or negatively, I keep on learning! :)
It is Christmas time and in the Philippines, with around 80% of the inhabitants being religious, Christmas is something very special. So to prolong this period, they start with perking up Manila around September. Christmas lights are being nicely put in the exotic trees, the trunks of the palm trees become red, and Christmas trees arise in all shopping areas. I suddenly do realize that I haven’t seen Santa Claus though. So even though it’s really Americanized here, Santa Claus has no time to pay Philippines a visit I guess.
Everyone is really in Christmas (sharing) mood, and many people get better from it. Cab drivers get an extra tip, kids in the street are being multiplied suddenly and hoping to earn a bit more, etc etc. Also, completely rare to me, its being celebrated like we in Europe celebrate a new year. People send text messages to each other, call your dearest when the clock hits twelve, and fireworks all over the place. As where in Europe we eat… drink and then sleep! :)
Being in a foreign country, with leaving behind friends and family in other places, makes someone a stranger during such a time where family is important. People go home to celebrate and reunite with long lost families far away. Yet, I was invited to multiple families to celebrate with them. In the end I choose to celebrate with some friends that had nowhere to go as well and made it a great time. Surprisingly there were quite a lot of people invited for dinner. It turned out to be Family from the staff, not having a broad income, and happy and thankful to share the dinner with us.
Thank you Philippines for a special Christmas holiday!