Christmas time is rather low key around here in my opinion. While Christmas music blares from the houses of anyone that can afford a loud stereo, parties are normally confined to households and families. The main excitement is from the children and involves caroling.
The children gather together in groups of two to ten and go from house to house. They start on December 15th and soon become a nuisance as they show up every night. If you are giving money out they will try to show up a couple of times a night to get more. Solution? I took a cue from Connie on our trip to Agoo. Tell them to show up on the 24th.
Most people give a peso or two each to the carolers as they can’t afford more. Praxy had a different plan, though. I found this out when we went to the bank for pesos.
One of her happiest memories of childhood in Asgad was caroling before Christmas. She and four of her friends would go to five houses hoping for a peso at each house. At the end, they would split the take and buy candy or something like that. She hit the local children with a stunning surprise. Twenty pesos each. Not group. That was 20 pesos to each and every caroler. Brand new uncirculated ones. A small fortune to most of our neighbors in Nuevo Asgad.
The effect was chaotic and funny. While we knew there would be a line, they became impatient for their turns. One girl’s eyes became as big as saucers as she stood at the rail watching me hand out the bills (I missed it, the following is Praxy’s description). She gasped, then covered her mouth with her hands. She and her fellow singers danced up and down with excitement, then tried to calm down and look serious as a grinning Praxy watched them. “Look at that! LOOK AT THAT!!” she exclaimed out loud. “Hurry up, sing only two songs!” she told the kids in front of her.
Then her and her group sang five songs. Carolers “reward” houses that pay well with more songs.
Former singers watch from the rail. They all wished they could do it again, but we were on to them. 20 pesos per child, one time through. No one tried to cheat. One little boy tried again, but I didn’t hold it against him. He was about 4 years old and didn’t know any better.
I treat for me. OOYYYIIEEEE DOUGHNUTS! showed up and sang to us. I think she is precious.
It took a little over two hours to get everyone cycled through. We gave out 97 20 peso bills, close to $43 Usd. Easy to keep track, the serial numbers were sequential. Every kid in town got a nice Christmas present.
December 25th, the day of Praxy’s Christmas party. She had people come in a set up a big tent. We had two days of almost continuous rain, Decembers 23 and 24 and the tent was set up in the rain. The rain magically lifted at dusk on the 24th and the kids were able to go caroling. Most parents won’t let the kids go out if the weather is bad as the kids might get sick. (If that had happened, we would have let the kids carol on the 25th or 26th or something like that.) We lucked out, the weather was glorious and warm on the 25th.
The original plan was to serve a huge dinner here. No one really wanted to do that, they would rather eat with their families. So everyone divided up the food and they went home to eat.
Except for us. Since we had the nicest house, it was thought that the local Catholic priest would want to eat lunch in town after he did the morning mass in Asgad. Soooo, we went to a great deal of trouble to clean house and get everything ready. Food and nice tableware showed up (as we don’t have anything like that). And we waited. And, he went on by in his chartered jeepney and ate at a barrio farther up the road. No problem, really. One priest has to cover five barrios and five churches. At least we were ready. Someone showed up, six young ladies.
They sang and preformed a dance for Praxy and my benefit. One is holding a microphone, we had a karaoke machine show up and get placed right next to our house. I couldn’t figure out why until now while I’m writing this. I think that Praxy had this planned for me. Otherwise, the machine should have installed under the tent.
Karaoke then started after the “Orange Girl Group” finished. People sang next to our house for 3 hours as we had put up a tarp to keep things cool enough for the girls to perform. Very loud. Our local streetwalker, Michael, second from the right, enjoyed himself immensely. As the sun finally got overhead, the machine was moved under the tent. It was in continuous use until a disco was set up for dancing in the evening. Dancing went on until 11:30pm.
This morning, everything is gone except the tarp attached to our house. I’m sure it will be picked up today.
That is about all I have for the time being. We went into Guiuan again (rented the motorcycle) looking for windows and security bars for our windows. No luck, nothing decent available. Kind of a wasted trip, but we got some ideas. Tomorrow we plan to go to Tacloban and finally I might be able to upload blogs and communicate with home.
Nope, wrong. Something happened and I’ll add it before I put the computer into the suitcase for Tacloban. I wasn’t paying much attention, but Praxy has been busy rooting around in her suitcases and…
there goes my sweet little wife with a black Santa’s bag. Filled with clothes for the children around here. Mostly for 4-8 year olds. I love her!
8:15am 8:25am 12/27/2015 Asgad, Eastern Samar, Philippines.