Christmas in the Philippines: “I Wanna Go Home”

“Christimas in the Philippines: I Wanna Go Home”

It is 9:51 PM, December 17, 2010, eight days til’ Christmas. I’ve written an article before, about the time when I moved here in the US and I got some very touching replies. Any who, right now, my parents are on the phone with some of our relatives back in the Philippines. I’m always happy when I hear their voices; it feels like they are in the living room, sitting with us.

Back to the Christmas thing, right now, it’s eight days til Christmas. By now, my city in the Philippines would be filled with little kids caroling around the neighborhood, firecrackers or “pabuto” and dozens of attractive houses decorated with Christmas lights and ornaments. By now, I would have that feeling of excitement, because I knew I would see my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends in my house, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. By now, we would buy the things we need for “noche buena”. By now, our house would have that 6-foot tall plastic Christmas tree that has been in our family since I was two years old. By now, schools in the Philippines are on vacation, Christmas parties in every class, students exchanging gifts, rooms with colorful lanterns and the air smelling like piccolo, triangle and those popular firecrackers from Bulacan. These are the little things, I dearly missed. It’s almost Christmas time, the “most wonderful time of the year”, the time where families are supposed to be together, the time for good deeds and the time to create memories. In reality, I’m here in the United States. The supposed to be “greatest country in the world.” But, for me, at this time of the year, it’s the worst possible place to celebrate Christmas. Sure, there’s snow, there’s this “American” feeling to it, sure we can eat anything we want for Christmas, but what’s the point of all of that if you can’t enjoy it with your family? Yes, my mom and dad are here, but as a Filipino, family means my grandmas, my grandpa, my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

I’ve celebrated three Christmases here in New York City already, to tell you, I’ve been longing to celebrate Christmas back home. There’s the food that I wanted, the presents that I wished for and the snow to add that “White Christmas” theme, but where’s my grandma? My grandpa? My aunt? Where are all the people that used to be with me during this glorious day? I remember the time, when we used to sit in my granny’s living room, all the people I loved were there. Did we have those fancy foods that we have now? No. Did we have the most extravagant presents? No. But we had each other. Sure, when I was younger, I cared about the presents under the tree, waiting for 11:59:59, to open it. New toys I would get, oh joy! But then, at 15 years old, I realized that the most important thing about Christmas is spending it with your family. I’m often jealous about the fact that my friends visit their grandparents on Thanksgiving and Christmas, oh how America would be the “greatest country in the world” if my grandparents or even my aunt. I wished I had a single family member, besides my parents, that will be here for Christmas. Oh how I wish that my grandma would knock on the door on Christmas morning, oh how I wish I would smell the smell of piccolo, the excitement of eating grapes because we can only eat it on special occasions, the taste of fruit salad, the lechon manok, the laughter that my family shared. People often tell us, “you’re so lucky, you’re in New York…” But I tell you this, you are lucky, because you have your family.

My grandma will soon be celebrating her 75th birthday on January 1, a remarkable milestone and I am missing it. My mom sent money to the Philippines to surprise her with a birthday cake and a whole lechon baboy, buy will I be there to eat that lechon? To hug my grandma for her remarkable journey? Will I be there to take a picture with her? Will I be there to help her open her presents? No. But still, I am very grateful that my grandma is getting all these stuff that we didn’t afford back then. I pray and hope that this fantasy of mine that used to be reality would come back.

What inspired me to write this is my parents calling my aunt, cousin and my grandparents today, oh how I miss them so much! I also heard this song on the radio this morning with one of the lyrics “I wanna go home…” Yes, I wanna go home! I wanna go home this Christmas, experience that Filipino Christmas that is non-existent here in the United States. We have the materialistic Christmas here, I want the true Christmas. Pasko sa pinas, with my grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins. Will it come true? Probably, but for now, I have to celebrate Christmas here in New York. Doesn’t sound pretty bad doesn’t it? Like my mom said, you can’t relate with the quote “There’s no place like home.” If you haven’t been away from yours, I live in New York City, the United States of America, but the Philippines would always be my home. Just like the song says, “I wanna go home.”

A short poem I just made 🙂

Christmas Day

I wanna go home for Christmas this year,
But what can I do? I have to stay here.
This bitter cold dreary place,
On this supposedly glorious day.

My grandma and grandpa are thousands of miles away,
Oh how I wish I would be with them on Christmas Day.
“The fare to Manila is “only 3,000 Dollars” I say,
My mom said, “we dont have that kind of money and credit line” she did say.

No we did not have fancy cakes and expensive presents,
But I had my wonderful cousins, friends and of course, my grandparents.
The laughter, the pain and the smiles we shared.
Only, now, I remembered and cared.

So many memories with them on Christmas Day,
Too bad I’m thousands of miles away.
Christmas has always been important to me,
With my family and friends, I’m always glee.

For now, my family won’t be here on Christmas Day,
That’s all I can say.

-Jezrel Sabaduquia

Merry Christmas 🙂

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