It is this time of the year - Christmas on the Philippines
Lourence Ilagan lost his match against Raymond van Barneveld in the Alexandra Palace in London and probaly is already back home and enjoying Christmas time on the Philippines.
But on the Christian Philippines the Christmas time already started some months ago - on the 1. September. At this time people start to decorate, often with starlike lanterns and lots of colourful strings of lights, one can hear Christmas songs everywhere and the Christmas markets are opened. Children walk from house to house singing Christmas carols and get some small rewards.
All the action might look strange to as europeans with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees celsius. There are no real Christmas trees - only some from plastic - and often palm trees are decorated at Christmas trees.
The actual Christmas time starts on 16. December with the first of nine early morning masses, the first novene, which all begin before daybreak. When you manage to take part in all nine including the last one - the Misa Gallo - on the 24. of December a wish will be granted - at least that is what one hears. On the 24. December one could say the candle burns at both ends , it will be a night no one will sleep as after the Christmas midnight mass the Noche Buena will begin, a big family party , for which even Filipinos who live and work abroad travel back home. The children will stay up all night as well. The street lights will be on all night, families, friends, neighbours and relatives will come to visit and are invited to take part in the buffet.
The party will go on till 6 a.m. Those who were not able to visit the Christmas mass will go to church after the party. The children will get their presents either during the Noche Buena or on the 25. December but not by Santa . On the Philippines the godfather will hand out the presents. But not only the children will get presents, everybody you have been in contact with during the year will get a small present, even the postman or the vendor from the super market. In the centre of the Noche Buena you will always find the matriarch, often the grandmother , and all children will line up before her to get some coins. The older the children are the more coins they will get.
Of course on the Philippines as well the Noche Buena food is always something special. Often pigling, grilled meat , or meat rolls will be served, noodles and spaghetti can be found beside rice and rice cakes. And often you can see some kind of fruit salad made from canned froot decorated with coconut flakes.
The Christmas time will end on the third Sunday in January with the Santo-Nino feast.
Maligayang Pasko to all dart playing and not dart playing Filipinos and may all your wishes will be fulfilled. And hopefully we will see in all the years to come Qualifiers from the Philippines on the Alexandra Palace stage!