*The following is a fictional story of a dinner party among Fil-foreign celebrities.
It was the eve of Christmas and the Big Apple was deep in snow.
The Union Square Christmas markets were filled with shoppers, the Bryant Park skating rink with families and friends. The iconic Christmas tree was lighting up Rockefeller Center, while the Saks window display took the show at Fifth Avenue. From the Empire State Building, you could see the entire city glow in yuletide merriment.
In their own cozy little corner of the big city, Filipinos were gathered together, celebrating Noche Buena with their cheery Pinoy spirit.
In the heart of the busy neighborhood of Little Manila in Manhattan, Hailee Steinfeld is hosting a dinner party for her fellow Filipino celebrities in her posh New York apartment.
At the center of the dining table is a rich spread of Filipino dishes reminiscent of fiesta back home.
Her guests are seated at the long table, with Hailee at the kabisera. Singer-actor sat Darren Criss across from her, at the other end of the table. Seating beside her on both sides are rapper Sahweetie and teen pop icon Olivia Rodrigo. Athletes Jordan Clarkson and Leylah Fernandez are in the middle of the table. While, Bella Poarch and Bretman Rock sat across each other beside Darren.
“Abot-abot na lang, ha. Walang mag-seserve dito. Lahat ng ulam d’yan main course,” the party host said. (Feel free to reach. No one will serve you here. All those dishes are main courses.)
Darren Chriss looked at all the scrumptious meals in front of him—hamon de bola (Christmas ham), bibingka and puto bumbong, barbecue, fried chicken, quezo de bola, and so much more.
“Mukhang mapaparami na naman kanin ako nito,a,” Darren said. (I might be forced to eat more rice with this).
“Teka lang. Wala muna susubo. Picture muna tayo, because we are Pinoys,” said Bretman gesturing his hands up and urging everyone to stand up. (Wait a minute. Nobody takes a bite just yet. We have to take a picture first because we are Filipinos).
“Dito tayo sa gilid ng mesa para kita lahat ng pagkain. Pakigilid yung mga upuan,” Bella said. (Let’s line up here behind the table in front of the wall. Can you move the chairs?)
“Teka sinong magpipicture?,” Hailee asked. (But who’ll take the picture?).
“Ako na lang,” Jordan volunteered (I’ll do it).
“Hindi pwedeng wala ka sa picture,” Olivia insisted.
“E di lahat na lang tayo mag-take,” Sahweetie said, offering a quick solution. (Why don’t we all take one?)
In the end, they all took turns taking the photos, rounding up at least a hundred shots of the same dinner spread.
“So, pwede na ba kumain?,” Darren asked. (So, is it okay to eat now?)
The party sat back down.
“Teka lang. Magdadasal muna tayo. (Wait. We need to pray first). Leylah, can you lead the prayer?”
“Ayy, sige. Sure.” (Oh, okay). "Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
“Yung prayer yan pag recess, di ‘ba?” (Isn’t that the recess prayer?)
“So, pwede na ba talaga kumain?” Darren asked again. (Can we really eat now?)
“Pwede na. Promise,” Hailee answered. (We can. I promise).
Everyone reaches out for the dish in front of them, but before they could even put food on their own plate, another person would be asking them to pass the dish in their hand. Everyone was pointing with their mouths and their hands. Arms were stretched out. Serving dishes were bumping into each other. The dining table traffic was abuzz.
“Paabot ako n’yan,” Sahweetie said. (Can you pass that?)
“Eto ba?” Olivia asked. (You mean this?)
“Yung isa.” (The other one).
“Yung alin?” (Which one?)
“Yung ano…” (What?)
“Yung alin nga?” (Really, what?)
“Yung katabi nyan.” (The one beside that).
The chaos eventually died down and they all began enjoying their scrumptious feast. They all had a laugh about everyone eating rice with sweet Pinoy-style spaghetti and pancit guisado, teasing each other about having carbs on carbs.
Running out of rice, Hailee had to cook a fresh batch using the proven-and-tested Pinoy finger method.
They also joked about whose grandma had the best version of adobo comparing it to Hailee’s homemade adobo.
Jordan asked the host if he could use the bathroom.
“Sige lang, nakasabit sa gilid yung tabo (Filipino dipper),” Hailee said. (Go ahead. The tabo is hung up on the side).
As they were having hot cocoa chocolate in front of the fireplace and counting down to Christmas, the doorbell rang.
Behind the door were Bruno Mars and Nicole Scherzinger who just got home from back-to-back Christmas shows.
And they were carrying with them a portable karaoke machine.
While Sahweetie, Olivia, Hailee, Nicole and Bruno Mars were singing their own rendition of Pinoy Christmas classics, the doorbell rang again.
The doorbell rang, and Bella asked, “Are we expecting anyone else?”
When Hailee checked, two dapper Filipino men were at the door, donning Santa hats and bearing gifts—Manny Jacinto and Vincent Rodriguez III.
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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