‘Family, food, lanterns’ bring fond memories of Christmas


LIGHTING THE WAY. Christmas lanterns on display along Jose Abad Santos Avenue in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga. PAUL KYRBY BALINGIT

Christmas in the Philippines, or “Paskong Pinoy”, has earned the reputation worldwide of celebrating the longest Christmas season, which starts as early as September all the way until early January.

But more than that, it differs from other countries in many ways, according to Paul Kyrby Balingit.

“Where do I start? Parols or lanterns, however you want to call them, comes into mind first. Particularly in our province, lanterns can be pretty huge. How about the groups of children beating on empty plastic containers of various condiments starting things off with “Sa may bahay ang aming bati.” Those among many more,” the 25-year-old production assistant of an information network said.

The star-shaped lanterns have become a Filipino staple during the holidays the same way as Christmas trees. It represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings.

Known for its giant lanterns, the City of San Fernando has become popular as Christmas capital of the Philippines.

In pangangaroling (singing Christmas carols), a group of children visit houses to sing Christmas carols.

Also, the holiday season described in Christmas songs as the “most wonderful time of the year” also means giving and receiving for Balingit.

“Giving back and at the same time, being given. And food, don’t forget food,” he told when asked what the season meant to him.

Some of the more known Christmas food staples include ham, queso de bola, bibingka, puto bumbong, lechon, among others.

Balingit also associates the yuletide season with family.

He refused to elaborate but said he thought that the best Christmases were when his grandmother was still alive. “Perhaps, the fact that she was around was what made them so special,” he added.

A shutterbug on the side, Balingit’s photo of Christmas lights was recently picked for’s Paskong Pinoy Weekly Feature.

“I’ve been meaning to take photos of those Christmas lights for quite some time and when I learned about’s Paskong Pinoy, I asked why not?” he said.

The photo was taken along Jose Abad Santos Avenue in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga.

“Though I’m more used to taking photos of people, I had an idea on how to play around with long exposures, thus, this photo,” he said.

Balingit took the photo with his Nikon D80 camera, which he fondly calls as Nadjes.

“I guess the simplicity of the photo doesn’t really show how hard it was to take it,” he said.

As the temperature cools and holidays draw near, Balingithas not made plans.

“Guess I’ll have to surprise myself. It’s fun to be complicated and spontaneous,” he said.

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  • Benjamin

    What’s wrong with you Inquirer?  This report is on CNN today and you are not posting my blog. Is the Philippines under strict censorship?

    • Gregory Robinson

      Yes, they censor a lot because it doesnt fit their politics. they are low life and substandard media

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    The spirit of Christmas is not there anymore!

  • ad lev

    yan, nagalit tuloy si manong benjamin,…..magki christmas na bati bati na tau….:)

  • R.Baylon – SEO Specialist

    Christmas in the Philippines is the BEST!

  • Benjamin

    The reason I asked Inquirer is because of the news report yesterday on CNN America about Pope’s Benedict XVI statement on his upcoming book that there was a very big blunder by early Christians in determining that Jesus Christ was born on December 25. I tried to post a CNN link yesterday so that the people may read the report but the moderator here blocked my 2 posts. To fellow bloggers… Just access CNN America and you will be able to read the whole statements of the Pope about the wrong nativity of Christ. It is worth reading and you will be greatly enlightened by the Pope’s expose.

  • Gregory Robinson

    I’ve been here for several years, and the vast majority don’t even think about christmas until december. some might have a few flashing lights, but they keep them up all year. probably just for a little decorative touch. What I’m really searching for is a community that celebrates the Christmas Spirit of Christ, caring, sharing, joyful and selfless reaching out to others…1 month, 4 months or the entire year. 1 day would be nice.

    • bogusman

       You’ve probably been in wrong places. Christ has been and is always the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration. I guess it is not too much to say that having two canonized saints is adequate to prove my point. If you notice some lights flashing all year round you might have been in what we call “Red Light District” or places of music and drink you call bars. I strongly disagree with your shallow observation. Some might keep it hanging but not flashing all year. Ordinary folks are tight on their budget so they can’t afford the lights flashing all year but only during Christmas time. I urge you to go out with sincere intent; fill your heart with Christ’s spirit then and only then you will find what you have been looking for. The community begins right in front of your doorstep. Have you shared your table with the hungry?  Merry CHRISTmas!

  • aga

    Why is the daily inquirer so stingy with pictures?

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