Christmas, in OFWs’ lives


BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Once a year, Joy to the World! is sang on Christmas Day mass at Church of Our Lady of Assumption, Bandar Seri Begawan.

Hearing Christ-mas songs amid tapas y vino in a Barcino-esque restaurant in Singapore brings homesickness to Artem Abu.

Last year’s carollers who went digital to stop Covid19 infection now go on carousing outdoors as they follow health protocols while extra policemen patrol around.

Because Andito Tayo Para sa Isa’t isa, (we’re here for each other), street tykes give thanks to light that colors Christmas (ancient TV Station ID); of tinapay at keso (bread and cheese) for Noche Buena as kampana ng simbahan (church bells) ring. Mano Po Ninong, Mano Po Ninang!

Rare among millennial cumbacheros are classic Silver and Jingle Bells on Silent Night in Little Town of Bethlehem where Santa Claus is Coming to Town with Three Kings of Orient.

Vico Angala’s meaningful and simple gratitude and hope celebration is Luxe Duty Free Philippines’ Christmas Tree Lighting at MOA Complex, whose missing globe advertises a Netflix Red Notice.

Reading about Squid Game contestants cutting out shapes from honey-comb Dalton candy, that very popular Korean treat shown on Episode 2, “I like the cookie” says New York-based international concert pianist Adolovni Acosta.

Carols and puto bumbong bring homesick OFWs home. Bella and Nate offer guilt-free, keto-friendly and guaranteed low carb purple rice cake steamed in bamboo tube.

“Healthy food and diabetic friendly, it’s made of almond and coconut flour, and sugar substitute erythritol,” says Lovelle Depala.

Because OFWs can’t come home for Christmas, they call Azlan Banadera to ship MEX balikbayan boxes with chocolates, clothes, shoes and more goodies with love.

Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, Engineer Pio and daughter Bianca host Christmas midnight dinner during Christian Family Fellowship the Ambassador-Elder and Pastor Edgardo Feliciano founded.

Fire victims, runaway maids, distressed workers, illegal recruitment/ human trafficking victims and Bahay Kalinga, Philippine Embassy’s house of refuge tenants, feast around the groaning table of plenty.

Spread on long Pampanga, hand-carved la mesa: Ham, cheese, native chocolate, apples, grapes, chocolate, turbo chicken and Manolo Carlos’ pan de sal.

Outside Ang Bahay, 200 capiz (mother of pearl) shells and star lanterns “send lights in this pained world.” Rimba (jungle) double-storey residence’s living room has a Christmas Village with glittering lights.

Philippine Embassy officers and staff mingle and interact with Filipino inmate at Brunei’s Maraburong and Jerudong prisons. They greet and thank Brunei prison officers and staff for their humane treatment of prisoners.

“Prisoners look forward to these visits. It’s indescribable to know they are always remembered especially during Christmas. Visits bring joy,” says Ambassador Benavidez.

The Filipino Association in cooperation with Labor Office at Philippine Embassy host Paskong Pinoy with imported entertainment, song and dance contests, raffle, Filipino food and parol (lantern) contest.

“Even if overseas workers are far away from home and family, they still feel the spirit of the season through this annual get together,” says Labor Attache Elizabeth O. Recio

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