Most Filipino Americans will be familiar with this photo. Every Christmas Eve, Filipino American families celebrate the birth of Jesus with food, stories, games, and more food. In Sugar Land, Texas, we have the turkey, roast beef, rolls, and apple pie. We have the ribs, brisket, sausage, and barbecue sauce. But we also have lechon, adobo, pancit, lumpia, kare-kare, suman, sapin-sapin, and piles of rice.
Filipino Americans usually don't spend Christmas with just their immediate family. Because many of us have immigrated to the United States, we don't go over to Grandma's house for Christmas, either. Your friends become your extended family. The only people you're directly related to at these parties are your parents and siblings, but you still call everyone "Tita" or "Kuya" ("Aunt" or "Older Brother/Male Cousin").
I've celebrated almost twenty Filipino American Christmases here in the States, but I've never experienced the Christmas season in the Philippines.
And I'm so excited to be going to the Philippines for over three weeks in just a few days. My flight is only a few hours after my last final exam. I haven't been to the Philippines since the summer of 2014, so I'm extremely excited. I also know that I'm very fortunate to be able to travel. I'm hoping to write a lot about my favorite experiences.
I recently watched an episode of Fresh Off The Boat where the mother was frustrated that her kids were acting like tourists while they were on vacation in her home country. It's something that I definitely could see my mom and dad being upset about, but because our trips to the Philippines have always been very extended and full of family events, I haven't had very many "tourist" experiences there. I'm not saying that I wouldn't enjoy a touristy experience, but such a large part of my family's life is still in the Philippines that our trips have felt like we were just living there for two months instead of vacationing.
This trip is going to be more of a mix. I do have some big family events to attend like my uncle's eightieth birthday in Manila and a cousin's wedding somewhere in Bukidnon. I have to take care of something at the bank for my dad. But I'm also going to have time to enjoy being a tourist in this beautiful country. I can't say exactly where yet.
If you're thinking about taking a trip to the Philippines, I would definitely encourage you to go and bring your sense of adventure. There are over 7000 islands, so imagine how many beaches that equals. Because of it's location in the Pacific, there's also a lot for history lovers and geology lovers. No tourist experience is perfect, but you'll definitely get something unique if you choose the Philippines.
Anyway, tara na! Biyahe tayo!