December 26, 2011

Christmas Season in Review

Our first Christmas in the Philippines was a fun experience. It was a busy holiday. Here it is in review:

-Christmas Carols in the stores and on the radio beginning in September.
-Fireworks going off almost every night sounding like a mini war outside the gates.
-11 Christmas parties—4 at work, 4 dinner parties with friends, 2 church parties, and one Christmas Eve movie and game night with my best friend, Lady Hiva

-Christmas tree and decorations went up Mid-November
-Ordered gifts online (the elves at Amazon must love us) in late November. We worked it out so that we used separate Amazon accounts and separate credit cards. It was good until only I can go to the mailroom because Lady Hiva works in the wrong building. She gave me strict instructions to NOT shake the boxes (it makes her mad that I can tell what it is by shaking it…a gift I inherited from Normy.) I told the mailroom guy that I was not supposed to shake it, so as he gave me the box, he shook it for me. We decided it was candy—and we were RIGHT! Luckily, the candy was not for me so I did not get into trouble.
-Bought Gifts for each other, small gifts for each of our colleagues, gifts for the Young Men and Young Women, pearls for the women in Hiva’s family, food gift boxes for four families in the neighborhood, and some ornaments for family at home.
Gifts for Lady Hiva's Co-workers

Gifts for Dustin's Coworkers (60 of them)
Houses made with the Cricut and filled with Chocolate for friends
-Visits to 4 different malls—several times
-3 movies in the cushy theatre with free soda and popcorn—none of which were Christmas movies because those were not being shown anywhere in the city.
-A Christmas Eve parade for the newest movies in Manila that closed one of the biggest roads in the city (why it was not a Christmas parade I am not quite sure—maybe movie stars are more important).
-A riddle game to open gifts for Lady Hiva and a scavenger hunt for me to find my gifts.
Lots and Lots of cupcakes, cookies, and chocolate.

-A vow to not spend so much money now that the holiday expenses are over—(then the old, huge, dinosaur college television broke…brmp)

-2 turkeys, 3 hams, 6 pounds of mashed potatoes, salads, 3 bags of taro plus two bags of marshmallows for candied yams, 2  medium bags of flour, 4 bags of sugar, pecans, orange rolls, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and more butter than I think we all care to know we consumed. (and Stove-top stuffing that we made a special trip to buy and did not even cook!)

I just read this to Hiva and she said, “it makes it sound like we live in excess…” MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Playing the new keyboard
The Aftermath on Christmas morning

And that brings me to the best part of the Season, to remember the gift of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

December 24, 2011

‘Twas the Time Before Christmas and Everything was Loud—HAPPY JESUS DAY, Bring Out the Crowd!

Lady Hiva and I have enjoyed celebrating our first Christmas in the Philippines this week. We have experienced celebrations of all kinds!

Early in the week we took boxes of food to some of our friends that we knew needed a little bit of help. On a different night we went to see the Christmas lights at the LDS Temple with the Young Men and Young Women as they did baptisms there. And today, Christmas Eve Day, we were invited to join JCI Manila as they had a Happy Jesus Day celebration for around 300 children  at Holy Trinity Academy. 

The crowd was split into two large groups; one half went to watch a cute movie about children telling the Christmas story from the Bible, the other half went to play games in the large courtyard. Lady Hiva and I were able to help out in both rooms. The children, as expected, were full of antsy wiggles and plenty of excited talking…as the JCI team would use the microphone to address the crowd they almost had to yell to speak over them. Then at one point they handed the microphone to me to ask some trivia questions about Christmas while they gave out prizes (pencils). As soon as I started speaking Tagalog the room went SILENT! I am not sure if it was because they could not understand what I was saying or if Lady Hiva is right, “they were just shocked, you are a WHITE guy!” HAHAHA, sometimes I forget.

The two groups joined again in the large courtyard for a final few games. Each game eliminated some of the kids and when there was a small group, they were awarded with their set of new slippers. Then the games would resume again and another group of kids would get their slippers. One game was “sinking ship” the MC would say, “The ship is sinking, you need 7 people (or any other number) to stay alive” and the kids would have to group themselves into groups of that number. If they had a different number than what was specified their group was out. It was hilarious to watch the kids try to figure out why they cannot have more people in their group. You could see their thoughts on their faces,  “Seclusion? Leaving someone out? What is that? Why can’t we all just have one BIG boat that does not sink?”

After the game the MC would ask them to line up for their slippers and that is when the blood bath anger would start! Parents would swarm in and push, pull, and viciously coach their children on how to get slippers as if there were not enough. (There were by the way). At first I was entertained by the intensity of these mothers. Then I realized that they were causing the children to get upset and soon some children were crying and other started pulling each other’s hair and punching. That is when we had to step in and ask the mothers to stand back and we stood between them and the kids. Oh wow!
You can see the frustration in their faces!

Angry Mothers

It was so cute watching the kids get their shoes. They were so excited to have them…new shiny shoes all their own. They would put them on immediately, even if they were two sizes too big! The next game was to balance a calamansi (small fruit kind of like a really tiny lime) on a spoon and walk around a chair. The kids were so focused, it was great! After the game, the slipper giving happened again and one of the new JCI volunteers leaned over to me with a worried expression and said, “It is starting again!” Sure enough, when I turned around I saw the swarming starting from the back and pressing their way to the front! RUN!!! Hahaha
New Slippers

Steady, steady...

The last part of the day was a presentation put on by each of the barangays (neighborhoods that are numbered for organization). They asked me to be a judge with them. It was fun watching all the little kids do their dance moves. Actually, Lady Hiva and I have been surprised how many kids here in the Philippines do the “Dougie.” They dance on the streets, in schools, and in presentations like today…that and Angry Birds seem to have taken over the country! One little boy, in his yello Lakers basketball outfit had the dance down smooth, but he did not want to face the judges. He found it more interesting to face the rest of his friends and dance with them. So all we saw was his wiggling butt! LOL

Comparing scores while one kid peeks

Teach me how to Dougie

It was a great experience for a Christmas Eve day. It was neat to see all of the people that gave their time and resources to help others
The JCI Manila crew

When we were driving home we could not figure out why there were so many people lining the streets. It turns out that every year they have a “Manila Film Festival Parade” for all the new Filipino movies that came out. For 3 hours straight we heard singing, dancing, honking and screaming as movie stars rode floats down the road—maybe a bit different than our traditional Christmas Eve’s in the States. Now it is evening families have gathered for a large dinner—Noche Buena (Lady has to keep telling me it is not Buenos Noches)  then they go to mid night Mass together. It is only 7:30pm and the fireworks have already started…WOOHOO!

HAPPY JESUS DAY EVERYBODY! Turn up the music and do the Dougie—(Oh, wait, I forgot again...and  white men can’t dance! HAHAHA)