Lady Hiva and I have enjoyed celebrating our first Christmas in the Philippines this week. We have experienced celebrations of all kinds!
Early in the week we took boxes of food to some of our friends that we knew needed a little bit of help. On a different night we went to see the Christmas lights at the LDS Temple with the Young Men and Young Women as they did baptisms there. And today, Christmas Eve Day, we were invited to join JCI Manila as they had a Happy Jesus Day celebration for around 300 children at Holy Trinity Academy.
The crowd was split into two large groups; one half went to watch a cute movie about children telling the Christmas story from the Bible, the other half went to play games in the large courtyard. Lady Hiva and I were able to help out in both rooms. The children, as expected, were full of antsy wiggles and plenty of excited talking…as the JCI team would use the microphone to address the crowd they almost had to yell to speak over them. Then at one point they handed the microphone to me to ask some trivia questions about Christmas while they gave out prizes (pencils). As soon as I started speaking Tagalog the room went SILENT! I am not sure if it was because they could not understand what I was saying or if Lady Hiva is right, “they were just shocked, you are a WHITE guy!” HAHAHA, sometimes I forget.
The two groups joined again in the large courtyard for a final few games. Each game eliminated some of the kids and when there was a small group, they were awarded with their set of new slippers. Then the games would resume again and another group of kids would get their slippers. One game was “sinking ship” the MC would say, “The ship is sinking, you need 7 people (or any other number) to stay alive” and the kids would have to group themselves into groups of that number. If they had a different number than what was specified their group was out. It was hilarious to watch the kids try to figure out why they cannot have more people in their group. You could see their thoughts on their faces, “Seclusion? Leaving someone out? What is that? Why can’t we all just have one BIG boat that does not sink?”
After the game the MC would ask them to line up for their slippers and that is when the blood bath anger would start! Parents would swarm in and push, pull, and viciously coach their children on how to get slippers as if there were not enough. (There were by the way). At first I was entertained by the intensity of these mothers. Then I realized that they were causing the children to get upset and soon some children were crying and other started pulling each other’s hair and punching. That is when we had to step in and ask the mothers to stand back and we stood between them and the kids. Oh wow!
|You can see the frustration in their faces!|
It was so cute watching the kids get their shoes. They were so excited to have them…new shiny shoes all their own. They would put them on immediately, even if they were two sizes too big! The next game was to balance a calamansi (small fruit kind of like a really tiny lime) on a spoon and walk around a chair. The kids were so focused, it was great! After the game, the slipper giving happened again and one of the new JCI volunteers leaned over to me with a worried expression and said, “It is starting again!” Sure enough, when I turned around I saw the swarming starting from the back and pressing their way to the front! RUN!!! Hahaha
The last part of the day was a presentation put on by each of the barangays (neighborhoods that are numbered for organization). They asked me to be a judge with them. It was fun watching all the little kids do their dance moves. Actually, Lady Hiva and I have been surprised how many kids here in the Philippines do the “Dougie.” They dance on the streets, in schools, and in presentations like today…that and Angry Birds seem to have taken over the country! One little boy, in his yello Lakers basketball outfit had the dance down smooth, but he did not want to face the judges. He found it more interesting to face the rest of his friends and dance with them. So all we saw was his wiggling butt! LOL
|Comparing scores while one kid peeks|
|Teach me how to Dougie|
It was a great experience for a Christmas Eve day. It was neat to see all of the people that gave their time and resources to help others
|The JCI Manila crew|
When we were driving home we could not figure out why there were so many people lining the streets. It turns out that every year they have a “Manila Film Festival Parade” for all the new Filipino movies that came out. For 3 hours straight we heard singing, dancing, honking and screaming as movie stars rode floats down the road—maybe a bit different than our traditional Christmas Eve’s in the States. Now it is evening families have gathered for a large dinner—Noche Buena (Lady has to keep telling me it is not Buenos Noches) then they go to mid night Mass together. It is only 7:30pm and the fireworks have already started…WOOHOO!
HAPPY JESUS DAY EVERYBODY! Turn up the music and do the Dougie—(Oh, wait, I forgot again...and white men can’t dance! HAHAHA)