Xmas at the beach

12 Dec

Strange to have Xmas on the beach 30°

In my (limited) head, christmas will always be associated with christmas trees, snow (if we’re lucky) and a wooden fire roaring in the fire place, sipping on some gluewein (hot mulled wine).

Not here in Boracay paradise beach though. Besides the fact that there are no christmas trees (firs, conifers) growing in tropical climates, the sweltering temperatures and a beach doesn’t really go together with Xmas in my head either.

So what does Xmas look like in the Philippines then?

Welcome to the land of the Xmas stars

  • There are of course lots of imitations of xmas trees – made out of plastic, coconut tree leaves or whatever ;-)  Fair enough.
  • But the main thing here are stars. Forget about the guirlands, or wreaths. The pinoys put stars above the bar, in the front garden, on the beach, etc. (and the more they are blinking the better)
  • The malls freak out big time in the run up towards christmas STARTING IN OCTOBER (and I thought that Belgians went crazy when they’d start xmas even before Saint Nicolas had been – children get confused with all the presents of hairy old men)
  • There are (the same) xmas songs in all malls, shops, streets, beach, even when boarding the fecking Cebu Pacific planes!
  • and to make the xmas fun complete (in November!) the airline staff were wearing Santa hats, reindeer horns, and other ludicrous decoration on their heads…
  • On the beach, xmas translates the many fairy tale lights into a stepped up overdose of christmas lights, cum shiney stars. Now the only thing that’s missing is the snow, and 40 degrees less ;-)

A peek at a Philippino christmas party for the hotel staff

The big Arwaya Xmas Party - cute

The Xmas parties here in Boracay (and Phils in general) start early. In the hotel I stayed they went into a frenzy over the yearly xmas-staff-party on the 9th of December already, with home-made decorations & improvised party-gear. (The reason for the early dates probably being that the staff get their much needed end-of-the-year bonus at the party, so that they can send money back home to the family).

As faithful hotel guests, we were invited. Interesting to see that all of my fellow (male) hotel guests were accompanied with a Pinoy (=Philippino), male or female, about half their age… Hm, that makes me wonder: what on Earth am I doing here in this skewed dating circus. (VIPs can read more here and here).

Musical chairs with some (drunk) Pinoy spice

The Christmas party basically came down to a mix of loads of food & drink, offered by the house (sweet), with the hotel guests given priority to dig in (quite awkward as I already felt I was crashing their staff party). At regular intervals bouts of games were organised (forced upon the staff?) as we would play in the youth movement or at weddings: egg relays, quizzes, musical chairs, etc. And no party would be complete with omni-present karaoke (or videoke as they call it?). Unfortunately half of the time the mikes are hijacked by the kids making ‘funny’ sounds into the sound system (‘not funny’ anymore after 3 hours of it ;-).

A lovely mug for lovely Arwana coffee

Of course no commercial christmas would be complete without presents. Staff had drawn a name of a colleague and bought them a present (and it seems quite ok here to open the presents and show your (dis)appreciation of it in front of the giver). On top of that, the Mami of the hotel had prepared the traditional gift baskets for the staff with some extra foodstuff to get through the festive season.

  • The hotel guests got a nice mug of the hotel’s café saying “I love my Arwana coffee” – such a sweet souvenir – if only it will arrive home in one piece…


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