Hashtag Filipino Christmas in Dubai, Hashtag Homesick

How we strive to bring the true Christmas spirit.

My Illustrado article - No colorful street lights, lanterns and decorations, but Christmas trees at the malls and hotels are vying for the biggest, tallest and costliest record.

Filipinos overseas are the most excited people in the world with regards to preparation for Christmas. As early as September we decorate the walls with lanterns and setup the Christmas tree.

There's the Simbang Gabi for the religious. But unlike in the Philippines, the mass is held around 8 or 9 in the evening - because there are only very few parishes in the country and most Filipinos had to go early to work.The essence of offering the sacrifice of waking up early in the morning is replaced by the sacrifice to stay up late for the mass after a stressful day at work.

Also, there are no genuine puto bumbong and tsokolate outside the church.

In Dubai, hotel brunches, dinner, staycations, Santa grottos and Western-styled Christmas souks are some popular ways to celebrate Christmas.

But the Filipino community won’t just settle for those. They have another idea of being festive. The sentimental Pinoy brings in more Christmas spirit and the feel of “being at home” in parties. Preparing noche buena may not be the same compared back home but it will still be a feast. Exchange gifts, Christmas carols, upbeat and fun parlor games for young and old are shoo-ins.

Because nothing replaces being with the loved ones, and this season is still very much about reunions, the party is not limited to those in attendance alone. It’s a must that the webcam is streaming live on Skype.

Everyone's holding on to their smartphones. Since we can’t go knock on our old neighbors door to door, we poke them and send greeting cards on Facebook. Instead of the traditional exchange of “handa” we post pictures of our foods on Instagram to let the world know what’s on our table, hashtag #kainanNa.

The star substitute! Here, in lieu of the real lechon, there are lechon rolls that can be ordered via Facebook.
How about gifts to our family and friends back home? There’s really no last minute Christmas shopping atmosphere here. Actually if balikbayan box is your thing, you’ve already finished shopping by November. In lieu of that, many godparents these days shop at Amazon or other online stores to get the deals gifts delivered to the Philippines instantly. And instead of cash on envelop, they send Paypal money to their dear godchildren, hashtag #NamamaskoPo.

And who says we can’t have group photos? Thanks to picture collage apps we get to put our celebration photos in one.The next day, we’re already sharing fun Youtube videos of our parties on Twitter with hashtag #ChristmasInDubai and more.

Filipinos could be the most connected people on earth on Christmas.

We can definitely strive to make our Christmas as merry as to how we celebrate back home. But, we will never get used to this. Never. Before we close our eyes on Christmas eve, a tear or buckets of it may have fallen unexpectedly. Still, nothing replaces being in the Philippines for Pasko.


Get your copies now to read more articles and take pride about how Pinoy-style Christmas is da best! Merry Christmas everyone!

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