Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Last day of the year and I was at home tinkering with the pc, rearranging and redecorating my haven – my room, skimming through an assortment of books that I plan to read for the coming year (and still transcribing a wish list of books to buy, that is, if ever I have the bucks left to spare still, lol), trying to finish varied articles from news clippings I was engrossed with , giving some final caused-by-the-urgency-of-the-new-year- celebration instructions to our house help, and making certain that every last- minute fixes is consummated just before our family attends the Media Noche mass.

The Media Noche Mass is a tradition practiced by Catholic Filipinos. In our family, like it is with most of the inveterate Catholic families, we cannot stomach to eat the food for New Year’s Eve without immersing ourselves in a sacred service, the Holy New Year’s Eve Mass. This, we believe, is acknowledgment for the blessings and even the trials we met for the last year, with the fervent hope that the year to come be better.

I grew up with these sacred traditions deeply ingrained in my system, alright. What I find annoying though was that, after the New Year’s Eve Mass, NO ONE – not even one among us, can taste the sumptuous food earlier prepared until after the clock strikes 12 midnight, heralding that it is indeed New Year’s Day! What if somebody faints whilst awaiting the much awaited fare? GOODNESS! My only consolation, prior to this waiting game is hearing the priest deliver an engaging, not a soporific sermon, lol. Then you have what you call as food for the soul. =)

Unlike the previous years, our home would always be one with quite astounding fireworks. The past years that came, aside from pecuniary grounds, Mom decided it is just making her nervous, hence, ending up with the simplistic hooting of the horns and viewing the fireworks display of the neighborhood to welcome the New Year.

Here, a modest display of fireworks across our home. I wish to capture the variegated fireworks earlier but for reasons I would rather not expound, I wasn't able to. Sigh.

Looking back, Christmas was also spent without much of a fuss, a simple gathering in our home of mom’s immediate relatives- her sister’s family and her brother's family (she has 2 brothers- the other living a lot farther than the one able to attend) including my beloved grand mom and the usual gift giving. The traditional Noche Buena, mom yearly hosts. Oh, I miss the kris kringle/exchange gift among family members though – "monito-manita", as we call it here in the Philippines. For some 3-4 years now, in the family and close relatives, the monito-manita was suddenly scrapped, for reasons that I am not aware of, hopefully not one of decided oblivion. I think I will resurrect that practice for the next year.

Oh back to New Year, it was nonetheless fine.

See the video below.

In the video, streaks of polychromatic display of fireworks projected high up, lighting and bursting in the pitch-dark skies. Thanks neighbor, lol! Oh and by the way, the hooting sound of the horn that you hear was from me, lol

Another thing I miss is the traditional practice of mom throwing in all corners of the house new 5 peso coins for every member of the household –as much as you can pick is yours for the taking! Finders, keepers. As Chinese and Chinese-influenced Pinoy would have it, anything round like the coin is LUCKY! Ha-ha. Preferably, coins picked during this day should not be spent. This way, according to mom and grand mom, the luck stays forever. How funny!

What we had for this year was an “ampaw” - a tiny, yet richly decorated red envelope with it’s ubiquitous Chinese characters printed on the surface. The bright colors of red, yellow and gold along with the Chinese symbols are thought to be lucky charm harbingers.

My ampaw with the exact amount of crisp bills along with coins amounting to 168 in Philippine peso, that is.
The numbers 1, 6 and 8 are said to bring fortune, being
lucky numbers, according to the Chinese.
Oh, I wish it meant 168 in six figures, lol!

Care to receive one or two? Below are haughty, overbearingly grander samples of the Chinese ampaw. Sans the flickering effects provided by .gif, you can see them in Chinatowns all over the world, lol. :D

Chinese New Year

The omnipresent "ampaw" is used traditionally by the Chinese during the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, the most important among all the Chinese holidays. For this year, as per Google, it will be celebrated on February 7, the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar, hence, it is also called as the Lunar New Year. The first "ampaw" with the words GONG XI FA CAI as translated in English means "MAY YOU BE PROSEPEROUS", a wish meant to the ampaw's recipient. The next "ampaw" depicts the dragon dance traditionally held during Chinese New Year.

But wait, I am not a full blooded Chinese though, lol. Mother says she has some streak of Chinese blood coming from her late dad who has deep traces of Chinese roots (and who by the way looks very Chinese). Father who looks mestizo, however, claims that my late grandmother has a Spanish friar for her father, gosh! His grandfather from his dad’s side can speak very fluent Spanish too. Oh well, Muchas Gracias for the genes, lol. =)

But, aren’t all Filipinos in one way or another Chinese? Well, their influences are all over the Philippines, to say the least. Even the elitist Spaniards with more than three centuries of their reign over the Philippines have, of course, left indelible impressions to us Filipinos – what with the Siesta we are all used to, lol.

NOTE: I am not particularly gaga over Chinese practices but I am well amused. I can exist without them, hey. I believe that there is a God to run to, and be comforted with ALL kinds of predicaments we may be beset with, as well as thank for, for the happiness and blessings we experience. The thing is, they are fun and yes, sometimes, I'd like to think that they make sense. I hate negativity and that makes me like some of their peculiar practices. Hurray to the Chinese!

chinese new year!!