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‘Family, food, lanterns’ bring fond memories of Christmas

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LIGHTING THE WAY. Christmas lanterns on display along Jose Abad Santos Avenue in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga. PAUL KYRBY BALINGIT

Christmas in the Philippines, or “Paskong Pinoy”, has earned the reputation worldwide of celebrating the longest Christmas season, which starts as early as September all the way until early January.

But more than that, it differs from other countries in many ways, according to Paul Kyrby Balingit.

“Where do I start? Parols or lanterns, however you want to call them, comes into mind first. Particularly in our province, lanterns can be pretty huge. How about the groups of children beating on empty plastic containers of various condiments starting things off with “Sa may bahay ang aming bati.” Those among many more,” the 25-year-old production assistant of an information network said.

The star-shaped lanterns have become a Filipino staple during the holidays the same way as Christmas trees. It represents the star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings.

Known for its giant lanterns, the City of San Fernando has become popular as Christmas capital of the Philippines.

In pangangaroling (singing Christmas carols), a group of children visit houses to sing Christmas carols.

Also, the holiday season described in Christmas songs as the “most wonderful time of the year” also means giving and receiving for Balingit.

“Giving back and at the same time, being given. And food, don’t forget food,” he told INQUIRER.net when asked what the season meant to him.

Some of the more known Christmas food staples include ham, queso de bola, bibingka, puto bumbong, lechon, among others.

Balingit also associates the yuletide season with family.

He refused to elaborate but said he thought that the best Christmases were when his grandmother was still alive. “Perhaps, the fact that she was around was what made them so special,” he added.

A shutterbug on the side, Balingit’s photo of Christmas lights was recently picked for INQUIRER.net’s Paskong Pinoy Weekly Feature.

“I’ve been meaning to take photos of those Christmas lights for quite some time and when I learned about INQUIRER.net’s Paskong Pinoy, I asked why not?” he said.

The photo was taken along Jose Abad Santos Avenue in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga.

“Though I’m more used to taking photos of people, I had an idea on how to play around with long exposures, thus, this photo,” he said.

Balingit took the photo with his Nikon D80 camera, which he fondly calls as Nadjes.

“I guess the simplicity of the photo doesn’t really show how hard it was to take it,” he said.

As the temperature cools and holidays draw near, Balingithas not made plans.

“Guess I’ll have to surprise myself. It’s fun to be complicated and spontaneous,” he said.

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