Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Filipino Roast Monkey Christmas?

Merry Christmas everyone!

My friend Andrew asked me the other day what kind of roast Monkey I had had for my Filipino Christmas dinner. He was joking of course, but it got me reflecting on the Christmas cultural experience I've been experiencing this last Holiday week. I've completely stopped working and have left Sagada for the Holidays.

I've been here in Manila for the last week with my lover. Although Sarah is Filipina, she is also vegetarian, so, alas no roast monkey! And no, they don't eat monkey here-- that's just a figment of Andrew's rampant imagination!

However, they do have a tradition here that they call Noche Buena. That means a midnight on the 24th they have a big feast (A big ham or roast chicken). We spent the last few days and Christmas eve evening with her family and had a really really nice time.

Christmas Eve we went to an absolutely packed Christmas Mass. The country is very Catholic and that means everyone goes to Church this day. We had to stand way at the back by the door for an hour-- as long as we could endure!

Back at the family home, we were treated to a really nice Christmas meal. Various plates of tofu, rice, fish and shrimp were served. Then their special chocolate cake desert. They even cracked a bottle of Champagne for me! They don't normally do this, but after hearing how a Christmas Eve bottle of sherry is part of my tradition-- well, champagne was the closest thing to sherry that they had! That was very nice. A touch of home for me.

At midnight, the family said a prayer, then the kids excitedly opened their presents. After the gift giving we said goodbye and returned to our place. The streets were full if singing and firecrackers and people celebrating.

I am however not a vegetarian. The next night, I was compelled by a primitive carnivorous Christmas urge. I snuck off from Sarah and bought one of the remaining roast chickens at the roaster across the street and treated myself to a private feast. Of course, I got in a little trouble when I showed up late and full to her apartment for dinner!

Fortunately it's Christmas.

Forgiveness is the the spirit of the season.

Ummm... Right Sarah?

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