The holidays are fast approaching and our OpenText colleagues are starting to get festive in their offices around the world, In this post, OpenText employees Aileen Cacatian, Daryl Ancheta, Michelle Maquiso, Keith James Macapagal and Maria Cristine Sarmiento from the DGO Manila Team write about their favourite customs and traditions during the holiday season in Manila.
How do you get ready for Christmas in the Philippines?
Our countdown to Christmas begins at the start of the Ber Months (September 1st), which is 116 days before Christmas.That’s right, before Halloween AND Thanksgiving!
In the Philippines, we don’t have snowflakes falling outside of our windows to remind us that Christmas is coming, but, we do hang “parols” (from the Spanish word “farol”, meaning light) in every window and throughout the streets. We also have the the Philippine lantern, which is a unique Filipino ornament traditionally made from capiz shell, colorful paper and bamboo sticks, shaped like a five-pointed star. In 1928, these were originally used by villagers to find their way to chapels and churches for times of prayer.
Do you have any other unique customs and traditions leading up to Christmas?
In San Fernando Pampanga, there is an annual Christmas Parol festival usually held on the second week of December. There, you will find all kinds of giant handmade lanterns glowing in the night sky.
In 1668, Simbang Gabi was also introduced by the Catholic Spaniards to the Filipinos. It is said that during the Spanish colonization, the Friars scheduled the Simbang Gabi as early as four in the morning, so that farmers could attend before their work days.
This went on for many generations, and is still a tradition that starts nine days before Christmas here in the Philippines.
It is said that if one completes the nine day Simbang Gabi, he or she can help save a soul from purgatory, and send them to heaven. What a wonderful deed, right? We like to believe that this is true. We also pray for the perseverance and preservation of our Filipino culture and religion.
What’s it like on Christmas Eve?
On the eve of Christmas, everyone is looking forward to Noche Buena, a festive family dinner filled with delicious Filipino food, such as: lechon, pancit, ham, queso de bola, and a whole lot more!
Does your office play any fun gift-giving games, like Secret Santa?
Yes! Monito Monita is our adaptation of Secret Santa. For this game, we exchange small gifts with one another during the six weeks leading up to our holiday vacation. Each week, there is a special theme and code name to go along with our gifts. We also have a final gift exchange during our team Christmas party on December 18th.
Also during the month of December, we love to spread our OpenText cheer to others in the community. This year, we are planning a visit to Concordia, which is a local home for abandoned children.
How long do your Christmas celebrations last?
Here in the Philippines, our Christmas celebrations extend until January 6th. This day is called the Feast of Epiphany (also known as Three Kings’ Day), where Christians remember the revelation of God incarnate of Jesus Christ. On this day, we start to take down our Christmas trees and keep the ornaments for the promise of another blissful Christmas to come.
How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Filipino?
In the Philippines, we say “Merry Christmas” in all kinds of different dialects. Here are a few examples: ‘Maligayang Pasko’ (Tagalog), ‘Malipayon nga Pascua’ (Ilonggo), ‘Maayong Pasko’ (Sugbuhanon or Cebuano), ‘Maugmang Pasko’ (Bicolano), ‘Maabig ya pasko’ or ‘Magayagan inkianac’ (Pangalatok or Pangasinense), and ‘Maupay Nga Pasko’ (Waray).
What does this time of year mean to you?
This season is a special time for many of us, and has been since childhood. It is a time to reflect and expect good things to come. As we get older, it brings us hope for a better life ahead.
Like the snow thawing in the spring, our experiences turn into memories that we wish to relive time and time again.
Life has given us an opportunity to make profound connections with one another and our surroundings; the holidays are the perfect time to remember this. It is a time to experience kindness, joy, and forgiveness.