Thursday, December 22, 2005

I love Christmas, I hate the "holidays"

I love Christmas. People are usually nice during the season (they give gifts left and right). What I hate is the ‘holidays’ part of it. Every where you go there is traffic congestion. It seems like people are possessed by some kind of unseen powers that are driving them to shop, give gifts, receive gifts, eat, and meet with friends and relatives as if there is no tomorrow. The shopping malls are taking advantage of this madness by offering sales discounts, thus attracting even more shoppers and causing even more traffic gridlock. Bazaars are everywhere selling all kinds of stuff. That’s why over the years, Christmas appears to be less and less about the Lord’s birthday party than a pagan’s orgy of shopping, binging, and partying. (Of course, others say Christ’s birth was somewhere in April but that’s another story).

It seems that in other countries, they only celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. In the Philippines, “Christmas” practically starts in November and ends in January 5 during the “three kings.” Why are we doing this is a puzzle to non-Filipinos. I guess it has something to do with the Filipinos’ penchant for fiesta or festival, which is nothing but an extended, massive drawn out party. Do you wonder why we can’t seem to mount an honest to goodness “revolution” to change this country despite all the corruption in the government from top to bottom? It’s because people would rather go to a fiesta than to a revolution. Are we doomed to be less serious about ourselves? When James Fallows criticized Filipinos for having “damaged culture,” was he referring to this aspect of our character?

2 comments:

Louise said...

A damaged culture...... I guess we are, Dave. A friend of mine once said we're more "Latinos" than Asian because of our spending habits and attitudes. I couldn't agree less. Must be, because my client also pointed out to me once that he knows of no nation, a former Spanish Colony to be exact, that has achieved economic growth comparable to the world economic powers that we all know.

So how do I view my own Filipino Christmas? Chaotic. Yes, the spirit is there to some, but mostly you are right, business overpowers the true spirit. The Filipino or the Manila-Style of celebrating Christmas in particular is also more into the "begging" culture. Being raised in the province, I find it difficult to understand why is it normal for hordes of godchildren knocking at their godparents' doors DEMANDING gifts on Christmas Day. Neighbors' kids also do the same. And what about the begging strangers with ID's and endorsement letters plus the nightly "irritants" of tansan-juggling carolers who break up into groups hollering their repetitive carols to the annoyance of any household and the house dogs? Well, after three nights of being in the "sharing" mood, I got fed up and yelled out loud to their horror, "Sorry, pass na! Wala akong Pasko rito, nag-Muslim na ako!"

:) Have a Merry Christmas.

Without Borders said...

I really question James Fallows thesis but really the Philippines is more Latino than anything else. The truth is that there is really no such concept as "damaged culture" because all cultures undergo a certain historical process and people undergoing such process could never be blamed for that. Even the colonizers undergo certain cultural change after engaging with other cultures. so the change is a two-way process. The damage culture thesis is really not accurate. (that would be good for future blog). Anyway, despite every thing, i still see the original concept of Christmas, which is the Lord's birthday and we should not lose sight of that. thanks, louise.