by Shane Eligado
Come yuletide, multiple things put smiles on people’s hearts — family members making it home, presents and grocery shopping for Christmas eve, and sweet and savory dishes arranged at the dining table. But, does this go for every Filipino family?
Upon the onset of the pandemic, we shifted from brick-and-mortar to online processing of orders, hence the rise of home-based online food businesses. My mother, and her love for cooking, made her start her “Puto’t Kutsinta” business which per popular demand stemmed to pancit of all kinds, fried goods, and a wide range of Filipino delicacies. While food businesses like this run all year long, Christmas is undoubtedly the peak season and an opportune time to make revenue through increased sales. Two Christmas into the pandemic, two Christmas spent unconventionally by our family. By virtue that all roads lead home at Christmas, my brother who’s studying maritime only has this holiday season to be with us. Yet, his break from school is rather spent on wrapping and frying hundreds of lumpiang shanghai — a staple dish served in any Filipino celebration — not for himself nor for the family, but for the customers. As we’ve been accommodating orders from more than thirty families for their Noche Buenas, our December 24 is not spent sitting with full tummies and warm hearts sharing magnificent stories while waiting for the bell to ring to greet everyone a “merry Christmas”. Instead, we’ve been juggling to deliver orders till the last minute of Christmas eve with our bodies on the verge of shutting down from fatigue.
Albeit these changes in the ways Christmas is celebrated, the significant increase in Christmas typhoon occurrences in the Philippines further subdue what used to be a festive celebration of Christ’s birth. Particularly in the last two Christmas seasons, it is typhoon misery — “Ulysses” and “Odette” — other than COVID spikes that dampen Christmas joy in the country. Hundreds and thousands of Filipinos marked Christmas without homes, food, and worse, families.
As we are now leading to the Christmas season, many hearts are certainly yearning not for the most beautifully decorated Christmas tree nor the enticing aromas from the warm kitchen, but for a genuine family season — a huge yuletide hit that one could feel, taste, and store in their hearts forever. Have you now thought about the best Christmas present this year? -END-
Photo from Google