How Filipinos Celebrate the Holidays - From Christmas Trees, to Singing Carols, and Gift-giving

How do you celebrate the Holidays?

In the Philippines, we love to celebrate the holiday season for as long as possible, and is usually signaled by the playing of "Christmas in our hearts" by Jose Mari Chan, in shopping malls as early as September.

It goes -

Whenever I see girls and boys
Selling lanterns on the streets
I remember the Child
In the manger, as he sleeps
Wherever there are people
Giving gifts, exchanging cards
I believe that Christmas
Is truly in their hearts

If you're Pinoy or Filipino, I am absolutely certain that you can sing this song in your head, and once you begin singing the song, I bet you wouldn't know how to stop - it sticks in your head, doesn't it?

But why is that, I wonder? The music is so catchy it sticks, and it repeats in your mind even after it stops playing. What's weird is that you might even catch yourself humming the song, and surprisingly, you'll find your neighbor singing it a few seconds later. Amazing, right?

Just like Jose Mari Chan's music, the celebration of Christmas and New Year in the Philippines is so embedded in our culture. We are all hardwired to celebrate the season as the biggest most important holiday of each year. Imagine, preparations are done as early as September. I bet in most countries, the celebration only begins in December, but not in the Philippines.

You'll find Christmas trees inside houses, and lanterns called "Parol"on most windows. While towns would start putting up their own grand Christmas trees trying to out-do their neighboring towns.

In Metropolitan areas, malls would hang huge decors in mostly red, green, white, gold or combination of colors. Some would even set up the inside of malls in a very festive mood, you'll feel like you're inside a carnival. Lines of trees along the streets are covered with Christmas lights that just driving along these roads will make you feel the yuletide magic and also giddy like a kid.

How about gift-giving? This is one tradition that no one must miss. Gift-buying starts early. You'll find Filipinos flocking areas in Metro Manila where you can find items that are at a bargain. Here are a few of these places -

Where to buy your gifts in Metro Manila? 5 Places to buy at a bargain

Divisoria in Tondo, Manila by shankar s. on Flickr
  1. Divisoria - a commercial area in Tondo, Manila, that's famous for selling items that are extremely economical. This area is known as the mother of all shopping places. If you want to make sure you can find gifts for all your godchildren and not burn your wallet, then buy the gifts from Divisoria as early as September because once the year hits December, you'll find this tiny area of Tondo packed with people - Try to imagine Black Friday but so much worse!
  2. Quiapo Market - A few kilometers away from Divisoria is the Quiapo Market. You know that you're here because this is also where you'll find the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene known canonically as the Parish of Saint John the Baptist, and also known as the Quiapo Church. A strong caution though, just like in Divisoria, shoppers here must be always alert. You are advised to be extremely vigilant, and be on guard. There are many pickpockets in Quiapo so pay close attention to your valuables.
  3. Baclaran - This shopping haven is near the Baclaran Church, and shoppers have been flocking this place since the 80s. Just like Divisoria and Quiapo, if you're buying your gifts here, you must stay alert, beware of pickpockets. Getting here is horrendous though. Expect the traffic to be terrible - your 10 kilometer drive will take more than an hour. Oh, and if you don't like crowd, then never visit this place on a Wednesday.
  4. Greenhills - This is where I normally shop because it is near our house. The items here are a bit more pricey than those you can find in Divisoria, Quiapo or Baclaran. However, the items here are still less expensive compared to those you'll find inside most shopping malls. You'll find a lot of low-cost faux designer items here. Still, we normally do not care - I'll still buy a Nike, especially if it's priced for 10 USD. I'll even buy ten. :-)
  5. Taytay Tiangge - This shopping area is located in Manila E Road, Taytay, Rizal and is famous for clothes that are sold at a bargain. The shops here became really famous when Instagram influencers in the Philippines started scouring this place for cheap finds as a challenge. So if you are willing to travel far from the metro then go visit this new shopping hub. I am absolutely certain you'll find great gifts here as well.

Now that we have gift giving out of the way, where did we celebrate Christmas?

Red and I like to visit places in the metro where you can find beautiful Christmas trees. Here are a few of our photos.

Comments 5

Great looking photos!
Not sure that I'm quite ready for 2020 yet :p , feels strange to enter a new decade already!

30.12.2019 12:08

Dear Friend Happy Christmas Day Wishing and Wishing β€ŒFriend β€ŒMerry Anand Furti ki christmas wish made by two of you friends looking good code is like me and Kobe wishing to share with you if I could win this way I would have been better I rode like a bird

30.12.2019 14:58

Thank you very much and happy new year to you, brother! Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and prosperous year 2020! πŸ˜ŠπŸŽ‰

01.01.2020 13:15

So glad 2020 is here!

30.12.2019 16:22

Happy new year to you, brother! Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and prosperous year 2020! πŸ˜ŠπŸŽ‰

01.01.2020 13:14