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Facts about the Philippines - December Issue
"Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!" Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
"Simbang Gabi" Evening Mass
In the Philippines, we first celebrate Christmas by going to church with a series of 9 dawn masses or (“Simbang Gabi”) Evening Mass. The mass starts as early as 4:00 a.m. It begins on December 16 and ends on the midnight of the 24th of December, which is the midnight mass. This is the reason why Philippines is considered the longest christmas celebrants in the world.
Evening Mass is celebrated for perseverance of Filipino nation in the faith and the preservation of our holy religion in this part of the world.” It is good to reflect on this intention at this time of challenges and disagreements.
In relation to the evening mass or “simbang gabi” tradition of the Filipinos, we also have snacks after mass. One of the famous here is the “Puto Bumbong” - a violet rice cake served with butter, brown sugar, and desiccated coconut on top. It is prepared by steaming ground purple rice mixture inside a bamboo tube.
For recipes and procedure you may visit: Puto Bumbong Mama's Guide Recipes
In the Philippines, in order for children to get coins from their non-relative, they usually gather in groups and sing in front of the house of their neighbors and as a way of saying gratitude, neighbors give them a small amount of money that the children will usually spend buying toys and saved for their budget in school.
Christmas Give Aways and Bonus or "Aguinaldo"
Aguinaldo is practiced here in the Philippines as a generosity to Filipino workers from their employers for the celebration of Christmas. This can be in a form of cash, groceries or vouchers. This also is applied to children who’ve been very good to their parents and elders for the whole year, and as a way of appreciating that, they are given a good amount of cash during Christmas and New Year’s celebration.
Gardeners and Helpers do receive a 13th month bonus each year, however, it is appreciated by them to be given money as a gift, or a gift basket (found pre-made in the grocery stores), or a little of both!The amount is up to you, but showing your appreciation for them is particularly important at this time of year. Remember, round ham and round cheese is an important tradition during the Noche Buena dinner on Christmas Eve!
Tipping or "Aguinaldo"
As an expat, it's a good idea to carry around a handful of 20 php's. It's the one time each year that tipping is expected. Tip the grocery guy who takes your groceries to the car, tip the security guards as you pass, tip the hair dresser more and the lady who does your nails a bit more. If you aren't sure if you should tip someone, go ahead and do it!
Noche Buena and Media Noche
The Noche Buena actually came into being because the Spanish friars required Filipino churchgoers to fast until Christmas morning back in the 16th century. Since the natives were usually very hungry after coming back from the Christmas midnight Mass (and since any hour after midnight was technically considered to be part of the next day’s morning), they conjured up the nocturnal feast before going back to bed.
Media noche is the Spanish term for “midnight”. It’s easy to assume that it’s a tradition taught to us by the Spaniards, but it’s actually something we took from the Chinese. It takes place just as the clock strikes 12:00 mn on December 31 just as fireworks start going off, another tradition we adopted from the Chinese.
It’s a feast filled with all kinds of food that might seem random to the naked eye, but actually has a bit of thought behind it, influenced by the Chinese, of course.
Lechon - Whole Roasted Pig
No doubt, it is the grandest dish and the center of the “noche buena” table of all Filipinos. It is a necessity, and it feels like you are walking around with just one shoe if there is no lechon around.
In Spanish term it is called the “suckling pig” where it was born. The famous lechon makers here in the Philippines are, Mila’s Lechon, Lydia’s Lechon, Mang Tomas Lechon, and here in Los Baños Mothy’s Lechon which is cash on delivery since they roast it homemade at Lajarca St. Mayondon Los Baños, Laguna. If you plan to get one you may reach them at CP No. 09175340557.
whenever there are lechon leftovers, we usually cook it as “Lechon Paksiw” with the leftover liver sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, usually onions, garlic, black pepper, sugar, and soy sauce. More of like adobo but with an extra flavor of the liver sauce.
Just saute the onion and the garlic then add the chopped lechon, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, bay leaf, ground black pepper, liver sauce
Filipiknow - Filipino Vocabulary
Aguinaldo - Bonus Pagkain - Food Salamat - Thank you
Simbahan - Church Handaan - Celebration Bigay - Give
Pasko - Christmas Inihaw - Roasted Pasasalamat - Gratitude
Bagong Taon - New Year Kanta - Singing Mabait - Kind
Regalo - Gift Nagluluto - Cooking Pagmamahal - Love