CULTURAL POTPOURRI| My Little Christmas Tree

     IN our country which prides itself for observing the world’s longest Christmas celebration, the Christmas tree will always play a vital role as the iconic symbol of Christmas. Gone are the days though when live trees such as the popular pine trees were often used. In this modern age of instant gratification, man-made PVC Christmas trees which come in varying shapes, sizes and colors (take note of the appearance of even black-colored Christmas trees) are now used instead. Yes, these Christmas tree replications still retain the Pinoys’ Christmas spirit and decorations with less hassle in the care and maintenance department.

MY LITTLE Christmas tree with the gifts

MY LITTLE Christmas tree with the gifts

     According to my favourite modern historian, the Benedictine monk Ambeth Ocampo, the idea of the Christmas tree was first brought to the Philippines in 1886. Our national hero, Jose Rizal, wrote a letter from Berlin in November 1886 to his sister Saturnina in Manila where he narrated that he attended religious services both in Catholic and Protestant churches. He wrote, “Everything that can teach me something interests me so that I can bring to the Philippines the best that I find here.” Rizal also wrote about the Christmas traditions he experienced in Germany. “There are some beautiful and grand German customs, like Christmas, which gives me pleasure to describe here…On Christmas eve, they bring from the forest a pine tree, and this tree is chosen because, besides being erect, it is the only tree that keeps its leaves during winter—I say not really leaves but a kind of needle. It is decorated with tinsel, paper, lights, dolls, candy, fruits, dainties, etc…and at night time, it is shown to children, and around this tree the family celebrates Christmas.”

COLORFUL dri fit athletic wear from Diday and Mimay Dakudao

COLORFUL dri fit athletic wear from Diday and Mimay Dakudao

   Filipinos, rich and poor alike, started putting up Christmas trees to celebrate the biggest holiday in the country only during the American colonial rule. It has become a tradition that we are seriously observing to this day all over the archipelago.

BABY M. Montemayor’s Kaayo shirts

BABY M. Montemayor’s Kaayo shirts

As soon as I celebrated my birthday last September, our household assistants already started asking me about the color theme for our Christmas tree this year. Actually, it’s like asking me the color of the poinsettias we would use to decorate the Christmas tree. Yes, they requested a new color other than red or green. For whatever reason, I decided on yellow-orange to give me that autumn look which I just love.

SONNY & Jacky Dizon’s Chocolate Mindanao

SONNY & Jacky Dizon’s Chocolate Mindanao

JOJI I. Bian’s sports bag and Liloh Evangelista’s laptop tray table

JOJI I. Bian’s sports bag and Liloh Evangelista’s laptop tray table

OLD time favorites from loving uncles and aunts

OLD time favorites from loving uncles and aunts

Naturally, to add interest and color to the Christmas tree are the gifts in colorful wrappings placed underneath it. Foodstuff seemed to be the safest and most favored gift to give. The fully loaded Christmas baskets/hampers from the Waterfront Insular Hotel, Marco Polo Davao, Seda Abreeza and Park Inn by Radisson had food, sweets and wine enough, hopefully, to last till the New Year’s eve celebration. Honestly, I feel so loved whenever I get gifts from my parents’ friends namely tito Chiching & tita Purita Rodriguez, tita Pat Montemayor, tito Rene Oboza and Manong Braulio Lim who gave the traditional wine, fruitcake, jamon and quezo de bola. Tita Lachi Aviles gave her homemade and so delicious chicken relleño which reminded me of my late mom’s specialty; and so did Archt. Angga S. Valencia. Davao-made chocolates from locally grown cacao were also popular gift items which I received from Sonny & Jackie Dizon and tita Leticia Averion. Pep-C & Gemma Velez and Vic & Elby Tan sent me calorific pastries; while Carine Bacani and Amy Cabusao settled for healthy fruits. Carlo C. Lorenzana made sure I toast the New Year with his signature Lagarde wine.

ROSARY from Jerusalem from Dr. Doris T. Villareal

ROSARY from Jerusalem from Dr. Doris T. Villareal

BPI and Banco de Oro gave their usual loot bag consisting of calendars, umbrellas and planners. The eau de toilettes I got from Marco Tamayo and the Azarcon women would help me retain my image as the best smelling columnist of Mindanao Times. My sister Diday and Mimay must have gotten bored with my black colored athletic wear that they gifted me with bright colored ones this Christmas; while my palangga Joji Ilagan-Bian provided me with a new athletic bag. Dear Baby M. Montemayor gifted me with her Kaayo embroidered shirts. Goodness, even the missing Liloh Evangelista made her presence felt through a nice computer tray table of wood. I just love tita Emilia and Emil Sitjar’s special present of a pair of cuff links which I would add to my collection and use whenever I wear my barong Tagalog.

EMILIA and Emil Sitjar’s cuff links

EMILIA and Emil Sitjar’s cuff links

This was a rather glorious year for me no matter how sober our family Christmas celebration was owing to the tragic events which happened in Davao. Thank you to those who remembered me this Holiday Season and for the thoughtfulness you’ve showered me with.

I wish everybody a truly Safe, Happy & Prosperous New year 2018.

Posted in Lifestyle