It is a very cold autumn night. But I am happy to see a Philippine Christmas lighted up among the very colorful lanterns of the Seoul Lantern Festival. For a moment, as I stand here being mesmerized by the lights, I can't help but recall my childhood years when I used to be mesmerized by the lights on the Christmas tree at home. Christmas lights always remind me of the festive atmosphere, of jolly Christmas carols and of course, midnight masses and noche buena!
But this time, I am not the only one being mesmerized by the lights of the Christmas tree. Kids, adults and couples take turns taking their photographs in front of the Christmas tree brought by the Philippine's Department of Tourism to Korea.
The Christmas tree is made of capiz shells from windowpane oysters. The shells of these oysters are popular materials for windows, lamps, coasters and tonight, hexagonal parols or Christmas lanterns.
While everyone around me is enjoying this giant, colorful, Christmas tree, I am thinking of Capiz, a province in the Panay Island in the Philippines, which also suffered devastation from the typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). And among the damaged homes in Capiz province, I am sure those families will find a way of putting up their own version of a Christmas tree this season, although it may not be as tall and extravagant as this one sitting along the Cheonggyecheon, or the Cheonggye Stream, in the middle of Seoul.
And tonight, I am thinking, South Korea, along with other generous international donors, is sending help to the hardest hit areas of the typhoon. And through this Philippine Christmas tree, we are expressing our gratefulness and sharing the Christmas spirit in return.