Saturday, 31 December 2011

Krismas In Pinas! (Christmas In The Philippines!)

Since Christmas is the biggest holiday in the Philippines, Christmas parties are enjoyed almost everyday in December.

And since a few Pinoy friends who once lived in Seoul were all flying home to the Philippines to spend their vacations there, what better way to hold a reunion than a Christmas party!

And since we're all home, we thought of having a Filipiniana theme for our Christmas party:  puto-bumbong and bibingka (popular Filipino rice cakes), lechon cebu (roasted pig popular in the province of Cebu), Christmas carollers and Filipino dances like tinikling (waltz on bamboos) and pandango sa ilaw (waltz with lighted candles)!
           (Friends trying dancing the pandango sa ilaw. 
               They're holding the lighted candles.)
(Puto-bumbong and bibingka makers from Villegas Puto-Bumbong of Aristocrat Restaurant in Malate hired to make the rice cake goodies at the party.)
                 (Puto-bumbong and bibingka! Straight from 
         the palayok oven! I wish I could bring some to Seoul!)
               (Puto Manapla which I handcarried from 
                         the Bacolod-Silay Airport)
                    (Loren slicing up the lechon cebu!)
(This roasted pig was ordered by Loren and was flown in from Cebu, and had to be picked up at Philippine Airlines' cargo terminal an hour before dinner time! Thanks to Butch, Loren's driver, for bringing home this lechon safely and intact in time for the party! It was really yummy!)
        ("Handog ng Pagmamahal" carollers serenading local 
                  and foreign guests at the party.)
            (These kids were so good. Singing, dancing 
             and playing a few musical instruments.)
The kids from 'Handog ng Pagmamahal' (An Offering of Love) group sang Christmas carols and pop songs, impressing local and foreign friends at the party with their performance. I have always realized Filipinos, even this young, are already so talented that they must have needed only a month to polish their repertoire in time for the Christmas season. They sing at Christmas parties and gatherings where entertained guests, in return, give cash for the group to use in their medical and charitable missions for the less fortunate. (If only some K-pop bands are as talented.)
                            (Impressed audience.)

Aside from our lechon cebu and rice cakes, friends brought over some tocino, salmon, chicken and other dishes.

Tinikling is a fun but tricky Philippine dance. If your timing is off, your ankle gets caught between the bamboo poles. Ouch!

Maraming salamat (Many thanks!) to Loren and Richard who opened their home in Makati City (in Metro Manila) to welcome friends from other continents! Loren was so excited that she pulled all the stops in decorating their home to look like it was a 'pasko sa barrio' (Christmas in the villlage).

And those who could also wore their Filipiniana attire and brought some yummy dishes and desserts with them. Maraming salamat to them, too!

And it wasn't just all fun, food and friends. There were lots of  catching-ups, memories and picture-taking, too!  

As early as now, we are already planning our Christmas party-slash-reunion in December 2012. Other friends who were not in the Philippines that night are already thinking of spending their next Christmas in Manila.

Everyone is looking forward to the next reunion!
(Our paths have all crossed before in Seoul, and tonight, we all gathered again after all these years of not having been able to see each other physically, other than in Facebook!).

Maligayang pasko sa lahat! Merry Christmas to all!

"Oh Holy Night...

....the stars are brightly shining..."

No, the night wasn't holy. It was freezing!  But yes, the twinkling lights of the giant Christmas tree and the decorations at Lotte Hotel and department store were all brightly shining!
(The Seoul Plaza from across the street).

                            (The giant Christmas tree.)

 It would have been an enjoyable walk for me from the Seoul Plaza all the way to the Lotte Department store had it not been that freezing!

                                           (The lights at Lotte Hotel.)

But with the temperature in the negatives, my right hand and my camera battery could not hold up to the very cold 'oh holy night' to take photos of the 'stars that were brightly shining'.

I only had a few more nights to spend in Seoul before I fly to the warmer temperatures of Manila. So, I had to rush to the Lotte Duty Free for the last-minute shopping for some pasalubong (presents) to bring back home.

                         (The wigwam-shaped Christmas tree at 
                        the Lotte Department store.)

                                                     (Inside the wigwam.)

And I just clicked, clicked and clicked some more, knowing that the next time I sing 'Oh Holy Night' would be in the Philippines, and I would be able to see under the tropical night sky the real stars that are indeed brightly shining.

                              (Tourists enjoying the Star Avenue alley.)

(The Christmas lights clinging on 
the department store's wall.)
  Indeed, it was a freezing night with all the twinkling lights shining.