Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Diciembrye sa Guimbal

Wow this holiday season really flew by! Since I am on my last year here in the Philippines, I really want to make the most of every moment. Christmas last year was still new to me with culture and food and the language but this year I have a better understanding of the culture here so I feel I am able to participate more in the traditions instead of being a bystander. Christmas in the Philippines really is more about the weeks leading up to Christmas day. There are lots of fiestas and Christmas parties and of course lots of food!.

My LGU (local government unit where I work) held a Christmas party the Thursday before Christmas weekend. There were lots of Christmas decorations everywhere, especially the star lanterns that are so popular here. This year Stacey (the other volunteer at my site) and I were asked to prepare the games for the Christmas party. Because it can be difficult to explain a game in another language, we decided to use a lot of Filipino party games that people are familiar with but also add a little bit of new games we know from the States.

A classic Filipino game is 'longest line' where there are two teams that must make the longest line they can in a given time by using only things they are wearing. It is pretty funny to watch as people take off shoes, belts, jewelry and anything else they can use to add length to their line.
Making the line long!

These lines even made it outside the building!

Another one of my favorites to watch the employees play was the 'hoola-hoop' game. In this game the teams had to pass the hoola-hoop down their team line without breaking hands. There were a lot of nice moves going on to get the hoola-hoop around their body and on to the next person in the line. And some of my co-workers were on the winning team!
moving that hoola-hoop down the line!

he must have some great dance moves too

All in all I think everyone enjoyed the games and Stacey and I enjoyed putting them on.
Next was time for food! My office bought a 'baboy lechon' or roasted pig! It is a favorite party food and can feed a LOT of people. There were also the Filipino staples of rice, milkfish,  and pancit noodles. I made some deviled eggs, which my co-workers had never tasted before but seemed to like.
posing with my co-workers' kids

time to butcher the baboy lechon!

the food line in my office

After lunch we all hung out in the office, chatting and playing card games. One of my favorite Filipino past times (besides singing kareoke) is to play tongits, a Filipino card game. It is somewhat similar to rummy but with an added betting element. I really enjoy playing with my co-workers even when I end up loosing 20 pesos ( I can just make it back the next game).
playing tongits in the office

Christmas in the 'Pines really culminates on Christmas Eve when everyone goes to midnight mass and then comes back for a late night fiesta. Last year I went with my host family but this year I decided to head to Guimbal (the site of Elliott) for the Diciembrye sa Guimbal Festival. It is a week long festival that Guimbal puts on every year. The entire lawn of the Municipal Building is covered in lights and every night there is lots of food, drinks and dancing!
Lights lights everywhere!
 Elliott's parents were visiting from the states and they treated us to dinner. It was really nice to have that added American family, especially during the holidays when we are all missing our own families so much.
dinner with the PC family (plus E's parents)
 On Christmas day we were invited to Elliott's host family for lunch. They prepared a big spread of Elliott's favorite Filipino foods. There were also three cakes in celebration of the family birthdays in December.
Lola (grandma) seems to be guarding the cake...

Our American-Filipino Christmas Family
After our Christmas lunch we hung out with the family and played with the kids as they opened their Christmas presents.
Renz thinks Ty is a mountain to climb

The kids playing with their new toys

Renz is so happy to wear his Georgia shirt, xmas gifr from Elliott's parents

So that was my last Christmas in the Philippines! Stay tuned for a recap on my New Years adventure complete with Whale Sharks!

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