Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Together with the tinsel and holly beginning to line the shop entrance at malls, plus the Christmas carol crooning on the radio, you know very well that Christmas is finally here. We Filipinos don’t celebrate “Thanksgiving” but all the same, we have the Christmas to counter that one out. A time when broken relationships usually mend, scattered family puzzles of sibling rivalry and squabbling finally put to an end, endless parties, Thanksgiving for a good year and the reunions that make it all worthwhile.
Reunions is a vital part for every Filipino home mostly during Christmas, this is when family members and friends from abroad go home and spend Christmas with families. Family reunions always start off in the same way a shake of the hand, a kiss on the cheek a little small talk and finding out what each other has been up to since the last time we all got together.
Even with tight strings in budget, Filipinos make each Christmas memorable because we believe that Family is a binding force why Christmas should be celebrated in the first place. Reunions is a tool to bind family ties tighter, it’s like a mandatory thing, it’s like Christmas won’t be complete without it.
Even beyond family, parties and reunions is everywhere when you are a Filipino. Personally, I find every December an experience worth learning, as a host for corporate parties I am a living witness what each smiles of each employees mean. What persevere them to dance like crazy in front of their bosses and guests and what makes them hope each year. In most corporate parties in the Philippines, December is a merry month, one thing is slowly creeping into the consciousness of the great host of salaried employees in the country: the Christmas Bonus or the hand out the much awaited 13 month pay (13th month pay is required and mandatory by Philippine law (Presidential Decree No. 851, as amended that all rank and file employees, regardless of status, who have worked for at least one (1) month are entitled to receive 13th month pay), with that cash every December who wouldn’t thought of Christmas parties and merry-making?
But with the current economic crisis one should be a little like Scrooge to plan wisely, to celebrate Christmas without being too tied up with money. Afterall being with family is what Christmas is all about. Here are several places in Davao where families can spend time with.
1. People’s Park – Stringkingly enough this public venue may be too crowded at night, but it is a haven for families alike. People’s Park boast a wide array of ornamental plants, statuesque work of art, an unique roof building inspired from a fruit, Davao is most famous for the “Durian”. It also has a playground, nipa huts, grand fountain, water display and etc. It is a one stop place for people who want to have a merry Christmas with many people (mostly strangers from one another) to celebrate with. It is a cheaper version of a Noche Feast, afterall no one minds should you carry a picnic bag and bring any comfort food you like. People’s Park is an inexpensive alternative to celebrate Christmas. Trees are decorated with different shapes of lights of a variety of color, Santa Claus hanging on every tree and life-size gifts placed in every nook and corner of the park. Security is even more than secure, you can simply roam around the place without much thought of danger, several polices is lined up on the area to make the place secures and safe for park- goers.
2. Mana Davao – It started two years ago, but it was only last year that Mana created a stir in Davao. Mana is a one stop antique shop located in J.P. Laurel St., the annual Christmas decorations are even more popular than the product they sell. What makes people draw to the place is the oversized Christmas trees beaming with too many lights, you thought you’re in another planet. The place is an eye candy for passersby, who can’t help but stop the speeding car to take pictures. It’s lighted structure allows visitors to awe with the colorful combination of Christmas ornaments. It is a highly recommended place for people who worry too much of their light bills, but still want to witness a grandeur of lights, going to Mana is yet another experience worth to be doing this Holiday season.
3. City Hall – This is another cheaper version of Christmas bonding without doing much effort to please your family. You can take pictures all you want with your kids and the entire family. City Hall’s every corner boast colorful lights pasted on its structure and even the humongous trees sitting their for years. Colorful fountains of green, red and yellow makes you feel relax while sitting on the bench. If you don’t have a camera of your own, a photographer is on stand-by everywhere, for 20 pesos and 3 copies of 2 poses you can get a photo to frame it for your own personal memories. Food is no problem, a wide-array of street foods and at cheaper cost is a treat to every visitor, even for a budget of 100 pesos, you and your family can had the thrill of your life. Across the hall is a pandemonium of cheap gift shops, a mini Chinatown where you can buy for the family, everything and I mean everything you can think of. Every Christmas a free carousel ride and magic shows are showcased for everyone. If your family feel a little religious, one of the oldest Churches in the Philippines, the San Pedro Church, is only a few steps away.
4. Eden Resort – A long trip from home but for families with a much higher budget to risk, Eden Mountain Resort is the place to be, located at Toril Davao City. This one stop haven is a sanctuary for families who needed a more serene and quiet place outside the city. Its luscious greenery and animal kingdom is a truly captivating place to be in. The cold breeze of the mountain top, activities abound and the beauty is never-ending
5. Crocodile Park – The name is not something to run off with, I had my share of celebrating a Christmas once with my family here, some cousins were home for the Holidays and we thought an educational and fun place is what we need than stay home and listen to our Parents, Aunts and Uncle’s sing their heart out on karaoke.Boarding a much bigger vehicle to accommodate all us, we strolled the park and was awed by the natural habitat and the animals around. Some went running and shrieking after a tiny crocodile almost jump off the fence, a yellowish Phyton looks at you like he would break your bones and so many other creatures you can feast your eyes on. .Then you can check out a River Restaurant for your lunch and you cook a fish straight out of the fishing area. We also enjoyed a paintball game that we barely notice it was almost evening and we should hurry home. You can also check the Butterfly Sanctuary and be one with this exquisite winged creature, for 50 pesos you can enjoy the day with butterflies.
6. Malls – So you think spending Christmas is a bit of a bore, routinely been staying home for years? I had a change of routine that started a few years ago. After spending Christmas Eve with my family, I and some friends troop to movie theaters and feast our eyes on all Metro Manila Film festival Tagalog Movies, well until our eyes bleed and watch almost all the movies showing on that day. What started as a crazy bet became a Christmas tradition. And you can do that with your family too, afterall movies can make a family bonding worthwhile. Try it….its an awesome feeling!
But what makes Davao outstanding among all other cities in the Philippines during Christmas? Is the fact that there is less danger and threat to firecracker disasters. The sale, possession and use of all fireworks in the City are prohibited by City ordinance. Persons found in violation of this ordinance shall upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine or by imprisonment for a period of not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment. What started as a short-term ban, which infuriates some firecracker businessman, has become a big campaign pushing for a permanent, city-wide ban on so-called safe and sane fireworks and it has been a practice almost 12 years now.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, the author of the “No to Firecracker Movement” and insisted on it, drew a lot of praises and indifference from people alike. But for the Mayor whose objective is the safety of his people, he risked no effort in making it a Citywide law. The bigger problem caused by fireworks is not fire but injury. For all the “safe and sane” talk, surveys of hospitals show that, year after year, fireworks cause more than a third of fireworks-related visits to emergency rooms in Davao, in cases where the type of fireworks is known. Children and teenagers are by far the most common victims. I couldn’t agree more with Mayor Duterte, people of Davao would be better off doing without fireworks each year, especially if they live in brushy areas.
So you want to have a less danger zone environment and celebrate Christmas with natural fun and no fear? Davao is the place to go, truly an amazing experience.
This “Christmas in Davao“article is written by Stephanie Morales.