Posts Tagged ‘Christmas 2011’

We’re big on traditions especially the things we follow to make life more colorful. Some are handed down from generation to generation and we follow them year after year.  Just like preparing for Noche Buena for Christmas, meeting the new year won’t be the same without food. Food is one thing that binds families together, either sharing a simple meal or elaborate dishes/recipes that need hours laboring in front of a hot stove to complete Media Noche. Media Noche  simply means midnight in Spanish but it has certainly acquired a different meaning on how we celebrate it.

Attending an evening mass  prior to New Year’s Eve is a must for Catholic Filipinos and arranging food on the table before the strike of 12 midnight is another tradition that we observe.  We partake of the food after shouting and jumping  with joy greeting the new year. Never mind the noise outside, we don’t buy firecrackers anyway (don’t want to waste  money on toxic materials that could even trigger accidents if you’re not careful), having the stereo in full volume or watching the countdown on TV is enough.  One such traditional thing that I learned from Mom is to complete an array of thirteen round fruits on the table. Some say, twelve is enough to represent prosperity for the next twelve months but we always make it thirteen. And last year, I also lit prosperity candles.

We went marketing this morning, a little early at 5am but when we reached Cainta market, we had a hard time finding  a parking space since the slots normally allotted for cars were occupied by lots of stalls and vendors, you guess it, selling round fruits of different kinds.  If you have enough money, you could buy almost anything.  Wow, and the price –  it’s more than double the amount you have to pay on regular days. One Kiwi fruit was selling at P25, a medium-sized watermelon cost almost P100.  You have to spend almost a thousand pesos just to complete the thirteen required fruits, if you are on a budget, you can buy one each but how can you do that with the seasonal grapes or longan when they are selling them by the kilo?

Not to be left behind are the sticky sweets you have to order or prepare since having them around on New Year’s Eve assures the family of sticking together through thick and thin. It’s tradition! Bibingka, a glutinous rice cake topped with sweetened coconut cream (latik)  is also a must on the table. Here in our place, it’s so easy to buy any kind of native “kakanins” (sweets) as long as you wake up early so you won’t line up for hours. Cainta is known as the Bibingka Capital of the Philippines. One such known establishment where people from all places in Metro Manila troop to is Aling Kika’s. There you will find all sorts of sweets. Aside from bibingka, they also sell coco jam, leche flan, cassava cake, maja blanca, maja mais, sapin-sapin, you name it, they all have them there. So if ever you happen to pass by Cainta, Rizal, drop by Aling Kika’s.

I digress. Aside from the kakanins,  most noticeable on the table are pancit bihon or pancit canton, fruit salad or buko salad, cake (obviously my favorite is ube), lumpiang shanghai, embutido, and siomai. I made a kilo of siomai this morning and prepared lumpiang shanghai, ready for frying.

I am planning to make Buko Pandan for a change, instead of the usual fruit salad which we always have every year. I also bought marble potatoes which I am planning to bake to go with the lumpiang shanghai and siomai. Hubby brought home a native chicken from the province and we are thinking of having tinola with green papaya and dahong sili.

I don’t exactly know how this came about but one more thing that  I learned from mom is to scatter coins from the door going inside the house at exactly 12am of New Year’s day. I do place coins on every window ledge and open my wallet and coin purse on top of the bed to attract good luck and prosperity. It’s another tradition that I do, after all there is really no harm done by following it, right? It’s just part of the celebration of  the New Year.  And we do hang grapes near the door. The funny thing is, we often neglect to remove it until after a week  and it becomes like raisins 🙂

Time and again the Department of Health shows pictures of people, mostly children and teenagers who are victims of firecracker accidents and yet, when New year comes, everywhere is a cloud of thick smoke and believe me, there are victims who lose their fingers and limbs because of it.  It’s so scary because some of those firecrackers they sell are deadly.  They never learn because they say, it’s tradition. But it’s the one thing that I tell hubby and my kids not to do, buying those things which have toxic chemical contents and  harmful to one’s health.

And since nobody drinks in the house, except occasional beer and red and white wine, we only use shut glasses to toast the new year.  Here’s to a HAPPY, HAPPY 2012.  Happy New year to all.


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I really hope it was a blessed, peaceful and a happy celebration for you and your family. It was a quiet celebration for us, attending the Christmas Eve mass at our village chapel and the Christmas Day mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish where I received a personal blessing from one of my favorite priests, Fr. Matthew Fernandez of the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross.

For the first time in so many years, we got to celebrate Noche Buena quietly and I mean, no fanfare not much food on the table except for hot drinks  and fried chicken which I laboriously cooked on a charcoal stove after attending the Holy Mass at 7:30pm, an almost two-hour celebration presided by our Parish priest.  For the first time too, our LPG lasted for seven weeks when we changed our gas dealer last month. Unluckily though, it conked out on me when I was about to cook for Noche Buena last Christmas Eve. Of all things that has to happen, it has to be that!  I had previously cooked Embutido and Callos but they were frozen on the ref and reheating them  on the microwave was such a waste of time. My son suggested that we just listen to Christmas carols while waiting for 12 midnight. It’s our usual tradition over the years to attend the Christmas Eve mass together,  prepare Noche Buena meals then open our gifts afterward. It has always been a happy occasion but Nissa was not around to share the fun with us. They only came for Christmas dinner yesterday afternoon so we opened our gifts late and just enjoyed the quiet evening.  It was a completely different scene and  it was so peaceful and quiet.

Christmas morning found us attending the 9am mass then a marathon cooking for lunch and dinner.  Although it was fun giving Mom, son and hubby their own tasks to do, it was a bit tiring for me.  I told hubby  that I’ve done this for 29 years now, doing the cooking all year round. Can someone volunteer for a change and do their thing in the kitchen? 🙂 🙂 🙂 Anyway, Christmas won’t be what it is for us without laboring on the stove. We don’t go out much during Christmas day because sometimes, we  have visitors at home, relatives and friends who come to visit. There were times though in the past when we had Christmas lunch outside then later watched a movie. Usually, during Christmas day, all movies are in Tagalog because of the film festival.  I want to watch Segunda Mano but Mom says she does not want to watch horror movies. Gosh, I miss watching Tagalog movies, it’s been years since I did.  And I love horror movies.  Oh well, I wish Nissa is around to accompany me. I miss the girl-bonding.

I was reading the Pope’s Christmas Eve homily and I quote: Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light.

It’s so true, sometimes we forget why we are celebrating and whom we are celebrating for.


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Happy Birthday Jesus, You are the reason for this celebration!

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Tonight is the last night of Simbang Gabi, make that tomorrow morning for Misa de Gallo.  I wasn’t able to complete the 9-day novena masses since I could not leave Mom alone at night. Hubby just arrived home the other day and we’re supposed to attend the last night of Simbang Gabi but Nissa and Obet decided to have dinner with us and it’s  now quite late to go to Church. Whew!

I ought to be thinking of what to cook for Noche Buena but son suggested to keep it simple since we would prepare his favorite recipes on Christmas day.  It’s Nissa and Obet’s first Christmas as a married couple so we are all quite excited what they’ll come up with and that means, what special recipe they will prepare since they’re spending Christmas dinner with us. Mom is here so we are complete. It’s the first time in years that she agreed to spend  a long vacation with us, hooray! Anyway, I spent early morning listening to Christmas carols while updating our Catholic site and posting my Christmas message.  It’s kind of nostalgic (again) to listen to the old, old Christmas songs and the wonderful voices of Johnny Mathis and the Gunter Kallmann Choir.

I found these reminders from a friend at Facebook, they’re called The Christmas Ten Commandments  and they’re too good not to share with you:

  1. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of thy Christmas list.
  2. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that thy soul is forgotten.
  3. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.
  4. Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman and the merchant with complaints and demands.
  5. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold and he who receiveth shall treasure it forever.
  6. Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold.
  7. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with many who will go hungry and cold unless thou are generous.
  8. Thou shalt not neglect thy church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.
  9. Thou  shalt be as a little child. Not until thou has become in spirit as a little one art thou ready to enter the Kingdom of  Heaven.
  10. Thou shalt not forget to share your joy, peace and faith with those around you.

May I just thank all of you for taking time to read my thoughts? May I just say a simple “thank you” to those who regularly click like and those who make comments on my posts?  You have enriched my life and inspired me to blog everyday. Thank you too WordPress for encouraging us to take the challenge. You will never really know how far you could go unless you try. Thank you for new-found friends here at WordPress, I appreciate your presence.

MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS! May it be a blessed one for all of us.

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Yes, I am definitely counting since tonight is the start of Simbang Gabi, make that 4am or 4:30 am for Misa de Gallo tomorrow. And since I don’t always wake up that early, I usually attend the advance Simbang Gabi masses at the nearby parish.  The 9-day novena is something I always look forward to every year, it’s part our yearly tradition during the Christmas season.

Except for our Christmas tree which we didn’t put up this year because hubby is not around,  we have put up some favorite Christmas decor and the house smells of lemon wax and newly ironed curtains .These kept me occupied the whole morning.  It’s a back-breaking job, cleaning and changing sheets and ironing but it’s part of the preparation for Christmas. I always say, without sounding too preachy that this is a special event that we always  look forward to – the coming of Jesus. And it is not only  through wrapping gifts, cooking lavish and favorite food, attending family reunions, completing the Simbang Gabi masses that make Christmas what it is, we should also prepare ourselves  with a clean and loving heart.

One of the personalities that I so love blogging about is Lucy Torres. I don’t get to watch her often on TV since I am not your regular TV enthusiast but I get a thrill  every time I see her lovely face on TV. She and her husband Richard were Kris’ guests this morning on KrisTV. I love her simplicity, the way she expresses herself in front of the camera, the way she writes (I do miss her column at Phil. Star) about life and about her family and the things she loves to do like crafting.  She says that wrapping gifts is one of her ways of unwinding and relaxing  and dancing of course. And she and her daughter also make bookmarks.  I love making bookmarks too and sometimes I buy them in bulk and embellish them with shells, beads or silk flowers. And when I give books to friends, there is always a bookmark enclosed.

And that reminds me,  it’s about time I wrap the remaining gifts which I bought a few days ago. A friend once asked me why I bother having boxes and ribbons and nice wrapping paper for gifts to friends and family. Like Lucy, I enjoy tinkering with things like old Christmas decorations that I  could incorporate into the box.

OC, you might say but that’s the way it is for me. My daughter invested in some art and craft kits like stamp pads, cutter, craft scissors, linen  papers, silk flowers and designs, you name it, she has a whole cabinet full of craft materials. And now she is into bead works making bracelets, earrings and rosaries too.

I do have  more than a dozen chain rosaries which I made earlier as  gifts to friends this Christmas. And do you know that doing crafts is a nice  way of bonding with your family? Even my son makes rosaries which he sells in their office.

It’s ten days to go before Christmas, are you done with your Christmas shopping?

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I can’t believe it! Although I know that Grace, a close friend whom I consider an older sister sent it last November 20 from Canada, I was not really expecting that it will arrive this early. I had that silly grin on my face when I heard the doorbell and saw the familiar face of the postman with a package in hand. I just knew that it was the book I’ve been waiting for. Miles To Go, the second in a series of books The Walk by Richard Paul Evans. I had the first copy, a mass market book which I bought from National Bookstore. They seldom carry Richard’s book and I was lucky enough to find one.  Miles To Go was published a few months back and when Grace heard that I am looking for one, she promised to send me a copy. How’s that for an early Christmas gift?  I just could not wait to read it.

Richard Paul Evans is an online friend at Facebook and is on my mailing list for a number of years now. He sends greetings during Christmas to his readers and sends updates on the latest book he’s writing. I love quoting him in a number of my blogs. And here’s something I want to share with you for a start.

“We plan our lives in long, unbroken stretches

that intersect our dreams the way

highways connect the city dots on a road map.

But in the end we learn that life is

lived in the side roads, alleys and detours.”

And every time I read a Richard Paul Evans book, I feel like I am close to the main characters he is portraying. When you feel the pain and the triumphs and the joys, you can truly say, Richard is the best.

Thank you Grace for this wonderful gift. I remember the first time I encountered his book  The Carousel and I quoted the first few lines of the book to you and you were hooked reading his books too.  You’re lucky though that you’ve read almost all of them whereas my earlier hardbound copies were destroyed by the flood two years ago. Thank you too for the lovely Christmas card you enclosed.

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Perhaps you’ve probably heard and read  several times that the Philippines celebrate the longest Christmas season. As soon as the BER months set in, be sure that you’ll hear Christmas carols played on the radio and not long after that, you’ll see Christmas decorations not only in each home but in department stores as well. And the celebration sometimes even extend to February the following year.

December comes with so much anticipation. It’s the happiest month of the year so far. We are finally done with putting up Christmas decor although it’s not as detailed as the one we had a year ago. For the first time, we haven’t put  up our seven-foot Christmas tree. I am looking for our smaller tree, about two feet long which I used to put atop the console table in our bedroom. I think it would look lovely in one corner of our side tables in the sala.

There is much more to Christmas than just the decor, the food we plan to prepare,  the parties we want to attend, new and old friends we want to meet. There is more than just the twinkling of Christmas lights at your neighbor’s house or the lovely Christmas lantern which you bought in Pampanga. Christmas is a season of hope reborn again, a season of peace and goodwill. The miracle of Christmas time brings us closer as a family and makes us even more aware that it is a very special season for the simple reason that Christ Child is born. Don’t you wish sometime that the season of cheer and joy would be yours throughout the year? Don’t you wish sometime that you would experience that lightness of heart in sharing what you have all year through?

I remember our conversation yesterday with my daughter, Nissa and her friend Marisse while we were watching and listening to the lovely and touching rites of Diaconate Ordination of our close friend. I told them that it’s like getting married too, with all the “I  Do’s” , only this time you’re not saying I do to promise to love and to serve your wife and husband but you are committing yourself to God. You say I do to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind. I love the part when the candidates prostrates themselves while the Litany of the Saints was being said.  And the Investiture with  Dalmatic, the presentation of the Book of the Gospels, the Kiss of Peace – the solemn and inspiring celebration itself, it was all so surreal.

Hello December!


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The tender days of November are finally coming to an end. And you’re right, this is my month-ender blog. November will always be a special month for the whole family. It’s not everyday that your daughter gets  married and it’s not everyday that your son gets to be ordained  a Deacon.  November is a month of meeting old relatives and friends that we haven’t seen in a while. It’s a month of new discovery, of happy endings and new beginnings.

The cold winds bite but I welcome it with open arms and just let the gentle breeze kiss my cheeks. The birds are visiting our garden again and it’s time to spend the morning, coffee in hand to just let the world go by, savor pleasant thoughts of yesterday and plan for tomorrow.  It’s been a while since I spent sometime in the garden for long.  I’ve been conscious again of letting barriers down, commuting on my own, going to nearby places to run errands for the family. It’s more than a week now since I caught this colds virus that everyone seems to catch too. Believe me, I am finding it hard to breathe sometimes. I guess I have to wear face masks again, for the time being.

We normally put up our Christmas decor on the last day of November but since tomorrow is one of the days I’ve been waiting for, being Lovell’s scheduled Diaconate Ordination, I guess, we need to sort them out today. Seeing Christmas ornaments bring back nostalgic thoughts and longing for the past years when we were  complete as a family, when Dad was still around.  I remember his indulgent smile and miss his stories about life. I remember how he would gently nods if you’ll ask him if he likes seafood for Christmas. I remember how he would stare at the Christmas tree lights and just sit in a corner.  It’s almost four years now since we lost him. And celebrating Christmas four years ago without him was a little different,  because we lost him one December night before Christmas. Things fade and may get lost among the trinkets and Christmas lights and ornaments .  But  the memory of  Christmas past lingers and dwells in my heart.

A year ago, I enjoyed doing my own quotes in photographs and pasting well-known quotes  in various shots I took with my digital camera. It was quite a joy to do them but I lost interest when Facebook users started copying and pasting quotes on their walls culled from various pages and from some users. It looks as if everything could be told in a quote and I noticed they don’t even bother acknowledging the real source of the photo.  How do you say that in Tagalog? It has become “nakakasuya” and “nakakaumay”. Everyday, my news feed is full of it. I shudder at the thought that some people just rely on other people’s words and quote them verbatim without even thinking of doing something original, something they could really call their own.   Most of my friends would probably say, to each his own.

November is coming to a close, gently folding its leaves to welcome the cold December days. And may I say, Merry Christmas to one and all.

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It’s the Holy Season of Advent and we’re now celebrating the first Sunday. Every year, we look forward to the coming  of Jesus and pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting and sing those beautiful songs of hope and promise.

The Advent season is full of God’s blessings for all of us. He makes  us realize and remember to look back at the whole year that is about to end and to look forward to a new and hopeful  year that is about to begin.  Are we ready to take Him into our hearts? Are we ready to accept Him in our lives?  True, we always say time is gold and we should not waste it but we also need to take stock of what is more important, a quiet contemplation, a moment of silence, a minute of giving thanks.  Let this be a season of joy for all of us, awaiting a most precious event of the season – a baby born in swaddling cloths to save  mankind.

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I can’t believe it, it’s a little more than a month to go before the much awaited Christmas Day. Advent begins this coming Sunday. I always look forward to the season, my favorite celebration of the year.  It seems as if November is barreling towards us like the “hanging amihan” which started yesterday, so we expect cold mornings from now on.  But this month is so far a blessed month for me. Aside from Nissa’s wedding last week, we are all looking forward to the Diaconate Ordination of our good friend and an adopted son at the end of the month. Lovell is a dear older brother to my two kids. It’s another event that brings November to a  close.

Sometimes, I ask myself what gifts I could give to my family that they will really appreciate. Gift-giving during the Christmas season is as old as time itself , it symbolizes our show of love for our family and close friends. And it makes us remember that the season of love is the perfect time to show that  it is not just the ritual of  gift-giving itself that is important, we should bear in mind that we celebrate Christmas because we are happy that the Christ-child has come. Some of us sometimes forget that it is His most important day because at times like this, we are also busy with other concerns, parties here and there, going out with friends, shopping, planning on Christmas menus and everything that to us, symbolize Christmas.  Christmas is a family celebration. Christmas is a time for reconciliation with people who have in one way hurt us in the past or who we have hurt.

We haven’t put up the Christmas tree yet, another family ritual that we do every year. And for the first time in so many years, I haven’t bought any gift yet for family and friends.  Around this time every year, most of the gifts which I buy early are already wrapped. I got caught in the frenzy of wedding preparations for my daughter, and it’s only now that I feel the fatigue and stress, there are still lots of things to do.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that by first week of December, I am done with Christmas shopping and grocery shopping for our traditional noche buena.

Just don’t forget the love, because that is what Christmas is all about.

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