In the run-up to Christmas, most people have a flurry of family gatherings and parties. For Filipinos across the world, however, the long-awaited and widely anticipated Christmas season begins as early as September 1st.
Even with the pandemic, the distance and time difference can’t stop overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from celebrating #PaskongPinoy with their loved ones.
While nothing beats spending Christmas in the Philippines, here are some ways OFWs can spend their holidays away from home amid the new normal.
Pick up the phone and touch base with your loved ones.
Calls to other countries have never been easier or cheaper to make. Mobile applications and data plans have made international phone calls much more affordable and dependable, allowing people to communicate with loved ones around the world at a fraction of the cost.
Skype, Messenger, Viber are just some of the mobile-friendly apps you can use.
Spend time with your found family
If you can’t physically be with your biological family, why not spend the holidays with your found family? This could be your workmates, or your neighbors, friends or your partner’s family.
Remember that wherever you are, you are never alone.
Set up a virtual Christmas party
Feeling homesick? Fire up Zoom, Google Meet, Jitsi Meet or Houseparty. It’s time for a long-overdue conference call with your constants. Zoomustahan and eNuman are now part of the new normal.
You can even play games, hold “watch parties” or just reminisce about the good old days together.
Meet up with fellow Pinoys
Finding people who share your experience and can sympathize is a great way to fight homesickness.
Try to find an OFW community in your area. They usually have a line-up of fun activities for the holidays.
Send out those Balikbayan boxes
It’s the season of giving. Pack up that Balikbayan box you’ve been filling since last year. Getting gifts from you is one way to make your family feel that you are part of their celebration.
Don’t forget to send it a few months earlier to make room for shipping delays.
Watch Pinoy classics
Go grab your popcorn, a bottle of your best wine and your coziest blanket. We’re settling in for a movie marathon.
Here are some streamable movies that we recommend.
Splurge and treat yourself
It’s been a tough year, we know.
Treat yourself to a little self-care today. Go to the spa. Check in at a hotel. Eat at a place you've been to before. Try a new cocktail at the local bar. Don’t scrimp on yourself!
After putting in long hours at work, you deserve a little TLC.
Eat Pinoy food
Craving Pinoy food? Christmas is the day to go big! Drop by that Pinoy restaurant you always pass by. Go try out that recipe you saw online.
As the kids say, “Sana masarap ang ulam n’yo (Hope your food is delicious). ”
Bust out that karaoke machine
Nothing says "Paskong Pinoy" like a videoke (/bi-jo-ke/) party. Prove to your non-Filipino friends that Filipinos really are skilled singers.
Don’t forget to sing Christmas carols.
Make new Christmas traditions
Don’t be afraid to embrace your new country’s culture and make new traditions. Make new memories with people you meet.
After all, you won’t get homesick, if you consider where you are as home, too.
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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