Tracking Santa: The 12th Day
(December 12)

Remember the Elf Maria Fe, the Philippine Elf Ambassador for Operation Advent? I met her again today for lunch. Just a little chit-chat. Next week she would be leaving to get back to the pearl of the orient seas.


So we met at a café at the Ice Caps. The café’s name was frostea, because their specialty was iced tea. That is such a cool name, is it not? So anyway, as I was saying, I met Maria Fe at frostea today to have a little chit-chat on how the Pinoys would celebrate their Christmas. When I met her she was wearing a baro’t saya again—the Philippine’s national dress—but this time, it was much thicker.


“The baro’t saya,” which means ‘dress and skirt’, she said, “was designed to be worn in temperate and hot climate such as in our country. That is why when I got here in my usual baro’t saya attire, I fell slightly ill. Mrs. Santa Claus, however, took care of me. She is a very good nurse. I never knew Santa Claus has a wife. And, a beautiful and caring one, too.”


I nodded in agreement. No one can question Mrs. Claus’s motherly instinct. “So how do you celebrate Christmas?”


“Well,” Maria Fe said. She took a little sip of her green tea. “We Filipinos usually celebrate it at midnight. We call this Noche Buena. It is a culture we have taken from our Spanish colonialists. During the Noche Buena, a large feast is held. Usually, all family members—which includes great grand parents (if they are still alive) and distant relatives—gather together. First, they pray together—for the Filipinos are very religious—and then they eat. Usually, kesong puti or white cheese is present when keso de bola is absent. Keso de bola is a huge ball of cheese. Then, it is accompanied with pan de sal, the Filipino bread. Fruits are present as well. Some families would include grand delicacies like lechon.


“After eating, they proceed to open the gifts. A lot of Filipino children believe in Santa Claus, so the parents usually put their gifts under the Christmas tree before they wake the kids up for Noche Buena. While some kids do not believe in Santa Claus, they still exchange gifts and pretend to be Santa.


“After exchanging gifts they pray again for such a wonderful celebration and thank Jesus and greet him a very happy birthday. And then they rest, for tomorrow they will go around the neighborhood to give gifts.”


Maria Fe said a lot. We stayed in the café for two hours, just talking about how they celebrate Christmas. I wish I can visit the Philippines so I can experience it.


That’s it for now Santa Trackers,