Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Philippines: Christmas Caroling For Cash.


After having dinner next door with Sheila’s family I returned to the apartment. My belly was feeling bloated due to an over-consumption of rice, so instead of walking upstairs I plugged in the laptop, sat at the kitchen table and extended my legs onto another chair where I began to relax, allowing my stomach to digest as I read my daily dose of international news.

And then it began. . .

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

It sounded like children singing. Initially I didn't pay any attention to the singing that I'd heard as this was the Christmas Season - which, in the Philippines, has to be the longest Christmas season in the world as they begin celebrating it in September. Plus, it’s a 24-hour commotion cycle in the neighborhood, from vendors yelling and selling things; to the frequent firecracker explosions; to the ignorant neighbors who allow their children to piss at my front doorstep, etc. And because of this, I've learned how to block out my surroundings.

But the singing continued.

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Then the knocking at the door began, followed by . . . you guessed it, more singing.

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Raising an eyebrow, I starred inquisitively at the window. And then it dawned on me. But of course! These were neighborhood Christmas Carolers! Wow.

People still do that?

Anyways, it was sort of bad timing. I mean, I was pretty comfortable. But not wanting to be perceived as a Mr. Grinch or Mr. Scrooge, I got up and opened the door to greet them.

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

“Okay. Wow. Great job.” I said, smiling.

However, once they finished singing an awkward silence ensued.

“Um. Again, really great job, kids. That was . . . [cough, cough] . . . that was really great.”




Still nothing.

I guess since I've been living in a comfortable apartment for 3 months I forget that I’m still in Southeast Asia. This wasn't the typical Christmas Caroling that I've been accustomed to in the States. Oh, no. This was “Christmas Caroling for Cash.”

But what’s the going rate for tipping Christmas Carolers in the Philippines, I thought?

So I poked my head out the door to see if any of Sheila’s family members were around. And sure enough Sheila’s mother was standing outside watching.

She laughed.

“Just give them a few pesos,” she laughingly told me. So I grabbed a few pesos out from my pocket and handed it to the children. They sang a little “Thank you for giving us some money, we’ll be on our way now” tune, and left.

Oh, Christmas in the Philippines. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.



-Adam

5 comments:

  1. that's great! haha...love some Christmas carols. good story bro.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Chris. Where are you these days? Are you still in Oz?

    -Adam

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hahaha.. This caroling is one of the most awaited part of the kids in our Christmas celebration here in the Philippines! They are sure happy with your few pesos =))

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