Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Excitement Behind the Wrapped Gifts

A little late for a Christmas post, but hey, there's 346 days 'til Christmas 2017 so there is ample time for your next Christmas shopping spree.  If you are like our family, there are different groups of family/friends that are part of our Christmas gift-giving list. Our kids have their school friends/teachers, we ourselves have our own group of co-parents and their children, then we have neighbors, our group in church, and family from my side and family from my husband's side, etc. etc.

For most as I've observed, it is more convenient to just give monetary gifts and here in the Philippines it has become quite a tradition, where kids line-up to receive their aguinaldo and depending on whether you're a close relative or an inaanak (godchild), you may even receive more than the others.

Lining up for their aguinaldo

I didn't grow up with this tradition. When I was younger growing up in Canberra, our extended family were my mom's co-workers in the embassy and their children. I remember receiving a gift from each of those families, around 10 or more. We, in turn, would also give gifts to each Tito/Tita and each of their children.  It was always exciting to open up the gifts and I admit I had taken a peek with a small, concealed rip to see what was inside the Christmas wrappers even before Boxing Day came (Christmas 26, for those who are not aware of this special occasion that the Aussies inherited from the British).

Now that I'm the Mommy and have the "privilege" of buying gifts, I have kept the tradition of my childhood and much prefer giving wrapped gifts rather than the ones found in the envelopes.  Sure it takes much more effort especially on our precious time, but this choice was reaffirmed just this last Christmas.  Most of the time we give the gifts before Christmas itself and the gifts aren't opened 'til Christmas day, so we never get to see the reaction of the recipient.  But on my husband's side of the family, we have our annual reunion on New Year's eve and day and that is when we get to give them their gifts.
Here are my kids back in Christmas 2011 when they started opening their gifts under the tree.
They wonder why now they don't get many gifts anymore and I try to explain that the red envelopes are the gifts.

I got to witness the reaction of the younger kids when they opened their gifts.  Even if the gifts were simple and may not be that expensive, these younger kids' eyes just opened wide and the little boy smiled and started playing with his new toy motorcycle and the little girl exclaimed "wow" at her new pajamas.  So, don't get me wrong, those red envelopes with the ampao are very much appreciated and are sometimes more practical, but I really love seeing the expressions on the kids' faces when they open up those gifts.  It is a gift not only for the receiver, but definitely, for the giver.  This tradition will definitely be one that I will not do away with, even at times especially when trying to think up of gifts for teenagers, that it really becomes quite a chore.  It is the thought and effort that counts anyway.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Panata to the Black Nazarene

There are many times when I fear for the safety of my family. I guess it's only natural being a mother and wife. But there are 2 particular days in a year that my nerve system doubles its usual rate, today January 9 and the other on Good Friday.  It is on these two days that my husband joins the multitudes in their devotion or panata to our Lord.

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing, crowd and outdoor
Photo credit: Anthony Rufo's FB page. View his page for other artistic pictures of the Translacion 
Today, being the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo (I heard earlier that this isn't the correct title, but this is what we commonly call it so I'll let it be), my husband just came back from his panata, feet blackened by walking barefoot and being trampled by other devotees. He was gone for at least 4 hours and while he was gone I would catch a news coverage of the ongoing Translacion and wonder where he is in that crowd, and again, my heart would race realizing he is actually part of that crowd.

Of course, I don't go with him,although many women dare to be part of the male-dominated procession. If I were to go one of these days, it would be to satisfy the photographer in me, to try to capture the drama of the event.

Image may contain: 13 people
Photo credit: Bench dela Rosa's FB page. Can't seem to get a decent picture of this.
Will try to this year, if my nerves will allow me.
The other date that I somewhat dread is the Good Friday Giwang-giwang, the annual procession, which is similar to the Translacion of the Black Nazarene, but the image is that of the dead Christ in a coffin and the streets are that of the narrow streets of the bayan of Binangonan, Rizal. I've blogged on this back in 2008 (Giwang-giwang). The Giwang-giwang goes by my husband's cousin's house and we get a good view (and a good whiff too - the heat and smell from the combined bodies of the men can be physically felt and smelt as they pass us) of the Sepulkro and the devotees as they make their way back to the church. This tradition we have witnessed for the past 14 years. My kids have gotten used to it, although my daughter when she was old enough to understand actually cried when she saw her dad being "carried away by the crowd".

So this is the confession of a wife who waits anxiously for her husband's return, not from a war, but from a devotion that I still sometimes fail to fully comprehend. People pray in different ways, others choose to join these processions and offer up their sacrifices of sweat, discomfort and pains to the Lord, while others do it in a more quiet manner. Mine today is for the safety of all those who make this devotion. Bless them and us, Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno.