We’re back home now in Pampanga, which gives an opportunity to review and edit the photos I have taken over the past few days and bring the blog right up to date. First of all, I’ve posted some pictures taken over Christmas, mainly of family members. Although it’s a Facebook album, it should also be viewable by non Facebook users. The photos were taken in a variety of places – in the mall, at a couple of children’s Christmas parties we dropped into, at a church service even the local cemetery (to visit Mary Ann’s mother and her aunts and uncles). Christmas Eve we spent ‘Noche Buena‘ with the Santos family in San Jose then popped over to the ‘old house’. I was reminded of the old episode of the TV show ‘Vicar of Dibley’ where Dawn French accepted Christmas dinner invitations from three different families. At least I only had to eat twice!
Christmas Day we went back to San Jose for the traditional giving and receiving of blessings (Mano Po) whereby ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) give small gifts of money to their godchildren. Compared to Christmas in the UK, this is an informal time of open house, with family members and friends coming and going, eating and drinking, sharing news, memories and gossip. For many Filipinos, Christmas Day is a working day and the tricycle drivers, who provide the only form of public transport in San Jose, were especially busy ferrying families back and forth on their obligatory visits to pay respect to older relatives and godparents. On Christmas Day front doors are open to all who may come, embodying the value of hospitality which is at the heart of Filipino culture and, of course, the celebration of Christmas.