Christmas in the Philippines

Christmas is when a lot of folks go “home.” Even though I’ve lived in the U.S. for over 40 years, “home” for me is the Philippines. That’s a long way to travel but thanks to YouTube I can take a virtual visit for Christmas. And you can too!

Makati, the suburb I lived in, has taken to a large outdoor Christmas light display and show which it did not have when I lived there. Here’s the 2014 display:

This older video from 2011 shows the outdoors lights and decorations throughout Metro Manila. The displays are considerably superior to the displays where I live!

In the northern Luzon (largest island) provinces, where my mother was from, giant “dancing” lanterns are built and entered into competitions.

You can see people in the lower portion of this video, so you can see just how large these lanterns are:

Holidays are a time for feasting and Christmas is one of the big feast days. The top special occasion food  in the Philippines, and my favorite for any meal at any time, is lechon, a whole pig roasted on a spit for hours.

Lechon - prime rib of the Philippines

Lechon – prime rib of the Philippines






xmaspancit Another popular dish, and my second favorite, is pansit, thin noodles with meats and veggies. This is typically eaten with calamansi juice (Philippine lime) sprinkled on top. (Calamansi juice is also made into a “lemonade” and sweetened with sugar.)

xmasputo For dessert, there are various types of rice cakes and I like them all!  One type is called puto, made from rice flour. It has a somewhat “spongy” texture, as you can see from the “holes” in this photo.


xmaskutAnother rice cake, made using brown sugar is kutsinta. It is traditionally eaten with grated coconut on top.  It is dense and somewhat “sticky.”


biko1My favorite rice cake is “biko”, a specialty of the northern Luzon provinces. My grandmother used to bring me sheets of this when she visited and I’d eat it all quickly. Since there are just a few ingredients (sweet – a/k/a gelatinous – rice, coconut milk, brown sugar and sugar), I made one a few weeks ago.  I ate the whole pan (12″ x 8″) by myself in ten days.

Christmas is prime time for folks living outside the Philippines to send a “balikbayan box” home to relatives in the country. A “balikbayan box” is a large “care package” filled with various “every day living” items the recipient may need but may not be able to afford or obtain for various reasons.

Filipino-Canadian comedian Mikey Bustos has made a “balikbayan box” parody using the music from a popular song:

Maligayang pasko! (Merry Christmas!)


One response to “Christmas in the Philippines

  1. I remember when I was a kid and the family was contented in celebrating the holidays with rice cakes, “tasty” and a family size Coke. We didnt have much so I would woke up to that bare noche buena. But it was peaceful quiet and none of the holiday madness and rowdy reunions. I’d like to retreat to that way again.

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