THE BEST gifts don’t usually come wrapped in boxes with fancy ribbons, nicely tucked under the Christmas tree.
They come in the form of warm hugs and huge smiles or a parent’s “thank you” for making it home again to celebrate Christmas. They’re squeezed in silly conversations and catching-up sessions, with family and dear friends, as we get to share the night together before Jesus was born and well into Christmas Day.
After all, Filipino Christmas means being together, spending the holidays in the company of one’s family inside the home. The fancy decorations, the twinkling lights, the great food and music only come second.
Sadly, not everyone can go home to their loved ones to celebrate the holidays.
When the clock strikes midnight of December 25, somewhere, someone is stuck at his or her workplace, doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, like any other regular day.
Here, some young professionals, who will miss spending Christmas with their families and loved ones, tell us about how they plan to spend the holidays away from home:
“We do recognize holiday celebrations, but due to the in-demand of business and operation of the aviation industry, we tend to neglect non-working holidays. I will miss the Misa de Gallo, the puto and sikwate after Mass, family and relatives gathering, seeing loved ones going home from abroad, ang Kasadya sa Barangay, exchanging gifts. For Christmas, I plan to attend Mass and have a simple celebration with my fellow workers.”
– Loraine Anne Marie Baguio, Cebu City, 23, flight attendant in training who will be spending Christmas in Kuala Lumpur
“For three years, I never get to celebrate Christmas with my family. Holidays is a peak season for us, it’s the time where usually new mall tenants open. It’s not entirely sad, but I prefer the term bittersweet. I get to see families bond inside the mall, then there’s me who can’t spend the holidays with my loved ones. After work, I always watch Home Alone 1 and 2 ever since I started spending my Christmas alone. I can sort of relate to Kevin because he’s alone in the city, but he managed to enjoy the experience and I also cook a lot, pretend that I’m on a feast. Also with technology, I can get to video call my parents.
– Maria Licah Ligutom, Dalaguete town, 23, mall leasing supervisor
“When the clock strikes 12 on December 25th, I might still be in the kitchen or on my way home from work, I mean that’s one of the things you have to deal when you work in the kitchen. We have to be on duty even on special occasions. Perhaps, I will celebrate Christmas on the road or follow my usual routine of spending it at my colleague’s home.”
– Gerard Patrick Apurado, Negros Occidental, 24, hotelier
“I will be spending my Christmas at the newsroom. I have to be on-air and man the desk, well it’s the nature of my work. First, if maglisod gyod kog biya sa office kay basin maapeke ko sa oras, didto nalang ko magpasko. If makaya, I can go to my close friend’s house where I am welcome to celebrate the Christmas with them. But manawag gihapon ko sa amo, apil og countdown. I’m the only child, my parents will surely miss me. Pero naa man koy dakong photo sa amo-a, kung mingawon sila nako, mohangad lang sila sa wall.”
– Angelica Fay Saniel, Argao, 24, radio news reporter
“While everyone else is celebrating Christmas, I will be at the hospital, taking care of our patients. I can’t go home kay I don’t have enough money. Of course, though makakita ko dinhi og mga Christmas decorations, lahi gihapon dinha kay naa ang imong family, naa gihapon kuwang diri. But I am doing this for them, so agwanta lang jud. I don’t have plans jud on Christmas day, maybe I’ll celebrate it with fellow Filipinos here.”
– Fritzie Yabut, Cebu City, 26, nurse based in Qatar