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Christmas in the Philippines is incomparable: A balikbayan’s tale

Christmas Philippines

Adrian Cayme, 46

CEBU CITY, Philippines — No matter where you are in the globe, Christmas in the Philippines is something you will always look forward to.

As they say, “No matter where you are, you will always look for it.”

This is was what Adrian Cayme, 46, a US-based Cebuano, feels every year when the Holiday Season is approaching.

READ MORE: An OFW’s oath this Christmas 2023: ‘I’m giving back to myself’

Cayme usually arrives in Cebu for Christmas in the first week of December, and this year, he arrived last December 6.

For now, he said that he is an American citizen but he is planning to re-acquire his Filipino citizenship soon.

Christmas in PH is really different

Christmas in the Philippines will always be different to those who experienced it.

READ MORE: Christmas in the Philippines: Five things most Filipinos abroad miss

“The reason gyud nga ari ko mag celebrate og Christmas sa Philippines kay lahi ra gyud ang Christmas nato diri,” Cayme said.

(The reason that I celebrate Christmas in the Philippines is it is really different our Christmas here.)

Christmas Philippines

Cayme with his family inside a restaurant in Cebu taken in 2019

He told CDN Digital that whenever he would hear people saying that he was lucky to be spending his Christmas there in the US or somewhere else outside the Philippines, he would say that these people really did not know how different it would be to celebrate Christmas here.

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“They don’t know that what we have here is the essential stuff that you can’t find in any other place. Mao na siyang (That is why), ‘Pasko sa Pinas’ is really different. Ang pasko sa laing (Christmas in another) country, how you spend Christmas there is just an ordinary day,” he said.

Loneliness outside PH

Cayme shared that when he celebrated Christmas alone in 2014 and 2015 in the States, he experienced depression. He was not able to come home to Cebu because he had paperworks that needed to be done for his permanent residency there.

Christmas Philippines

Adrian Cayme with his family, taken last September 2020

After that, he always made sure to celebrate his Christmas in the Philippines in the following years.

“I can’t compare unsa kanindot ang pasko sa Pilipinas. Simple stuff like making friends, families [come together], maski gifts nato nga baratohon kaayo, maski tag one hundred lang, makaingon ka nga two dollars ra na, pero lingaw kaayo ka. Kana gyud, di na nimo makit-an sa laing country,” he added.

(I can’t compare how beautiful Christmas in the Philippines. It’s the simple stuff like making friends, families [come together], even if our gifts are very cheap, even if it is only one hundred pesos, you can say that that is only two dollars, but it is so enjoyable. That is what you don’t see in other countries.)

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He said that among the factors that contributed to his depression back then was when he saw how happy his family was in the Philippines during Christmas, while he was miles away and alone in the United States.

“I always see to it nga mouli gyud ko og pasko, New Year, and mobalik ko after Sinulog pa gyud kay taas baya kaayo og pasko ang Cebu,” Cayme said.

(I always make sure to see to it that I will come home for Christmas, New Year, and return after the Sinulog because Cebu has a very long Christmas.)

Thankful to the employer

Cayme said that he was fortunate to work as a home health-aide in the US, where the company allows him to have a vacation in the Philippines based on the number of days that he requested in return for his hard work.

Christmas Philippines

Cayme works as a home health-aide in the US taken in 2022

“Usa sad sa reason why wa ko ni-join og major companies kay kung makauli man gani ko [sa Cebu], I only have two weeks, the most or three, then mabalik gyud dayon ko,” he said.

(That is one reason why I could not join major companies because when I can come home [in Cebu], I only have two weeks the most or three, then I will return there.)

Originally, it was around 2009 when Cayme and his family stayed in Arizona, USA, but returned to Cebu in 2013 for personal reasons. Currently, he resides in California.

READ: To you who mourn at Christmas

And when he gets here, he goes home to Barangay Kamputhaw in Cebu City.

Cayme said that he decided to work outside the country for a more high-paying job. His previous work before going to the US was an account developer in a drink industry company.

‘Ber’ months: US vs PH

In the Philippines, once the “ber” months begin in September, Filipinos tend to welcome the Christmas season, but it is different in the US.

Christmas Philippines

Adrian Cayme with his family during their Christmas celebration in 2021

“In September, wala ra, trabaho gyud gihapon. Ang people there will never have to experience the spirit of Christmas not until mahuman ang Thanksgiving,” he said.

(In September, it’s just nothing, it’s just still work, The people there will never have to experience the spirit of Christmas not until Thanksgiving will be over.)

According to him, the people there mostly celebrate Halloween in the last week of October, and Thanksgiving in the third week of November.

“After Thanksgiving, diha na dayon nga mo[shift] na sila into Christmas. Kita man gud kay wala man ta anang Thanksgiving,” he said.

(After Thanksgiving, there that is the time that they shift into Christmas. We, we don’t have that, Thanksgiving.)

He said that the people there usually treat the Christmas season like the ordinary days.

Through social media

And even if welcoming the Christmas season in the US, it would be different from the Philippines, Cayme said that he and his fellow Filipinos working there were thankful to the social media where they could get updates from their families even if it it would be via online.

Cayme, who is in Cebu already during an interview with CDN Digital, said that even if he was far away from the Philippines while staying in the US, social media broke the distance between him and his family.

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“Through social media, maka-join ra gihapon ko kung unsay mga panghitabo. Diri sa Pilipinas, nagkanta-kanta na si Jose Mari Chan (a Filipino singer known for his Christmas songs). As Filipinos, nag apil-apil ra pud mi,” he said.

(Through social media, we can still join what ever happened here. Here in the Philippines, Jose Mari Chan (a Filipino singer known for his Christmas songs) would already be heard singing (his songs played in the radio). As Filipinos, we still join.)

He added that no matter where people go outside the country, they would always search for the experience of Christmas in the Philippines.

Enjoying Christmas with friends.

Cayme with his brothers in the US, taken in 2023

Christmas in PH: Simple yet memorable

Moreover, he said that even children born to Filipino parents, like some of his friends, who spent Christmas in the Philippines could say that Christmas is more fun in the Philippines than in the US.

“The feeling nga dili kaayo siya more on material thing [ang celebration sa pasko] kay ngadto sa America, kung makadawat ko’g ing-ani [mga butang] but ari ko diri [sa Cebu] mag [exchange gift] mi’s akong friends like something funny. Makadawat ka’g gipustan ka’g uling, gipustan ka’g scotch brite or patis ug suka. Ang kanang imong kalipay ug katawa, grabe gyud. Ang kalipay wala gyud sa material nga butang,” Cayme said.

(The feeling that it is more not on material things [the celebration of Christmas] because there in America, you can receive this kind of thing but here in Cebu, we exchange gifts with our friends like it’s really something funny. You can receive a wrapped charcoal, you can receive a wrapped scotch brite, bottle of soy sauce or vineger. The happiness and the laughter, that is really what is great. Happiness, and that is not in the material things.)

Cayme is a living proof that Filipinos always find the warmth of Christmas only in the Philippines.

TAGS: Christmas, holidays, Philippines, US
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