By Aby Yap
Sure, they claim we have the merriest and longest Yuletide celebration. We already know that! Ho-hum. Kailangan pa bang i-memorize iyan?! But what accounts for that “X,” or that something eXtra, which puts us on top of the Certified Christmas Parteee People unprecedented list? And that which adds to our expenses, exhaustion, and most of all, excitement come Xmas season?
Yes, be ready. Be very ready. Those kids you never knew existed in your neighborhood will come and get you, or rather, your cash as they do their nightly rounds of pangangaroling this December.
That should be okay. You’re no Scrooge, you say. Plus, didn’t MJ sing “Give love on Christmas day?” (Wait, you’re not the caroller, are you?) BUT, you’re forgetting one important thing: the keywords. Kids, neighborhood, nightly and pangangaroling. With all these joined together, it could be fatal.
Let’s start with caroling, or what they call as such. For others, it’s just plain racket. Kids scream at the top of their lungs “Namamasko pooooo!” And before you can turn the lights on since you’ve just been roused from slumber on an otherwise silent night, they shamelessly belt out what sounds like a Christmas song. Is that Ang Pasko ay sumapit or Pasko, Pasko, Pasko na namang muli? Well, the lyrics seem to be drowning in hoops of jingling tansans and biscuit tin cans being beaten with a pair of banana cue sticks… Oh, right, it’s the tambourine and drum set in disguise the all-time favorite musical instruments of little Pinoy carollers!
That should be cute. Innocent kids serenading you with clever instruments…except these kids are getting too clever for you. You give them paper bills and they flock to your house as soon as the moon comes around — and even during moonless nights. Worse, they announce to the other groups of carollers that you’re Santa and you’ve got kids from the other barangays paying you a visit too. Or, you scold them for being “regulars” and they blend in with the other groups and stay at the back hoping you won’t notice any of them (or that it’s becoming a full-blown raket). Except that it’s the same sintunado kids your ears have grown familiar with; all too familiar that your eardrums need an immediate break before they break into bits.
And if you so much as commit an innocent blunder by giving a piso or uttering a patawad, then be ready for that infamous disgruntled carollers’ comeback. “Thank you, thank you, ang babarat ninyo, thank you.”
That should make you put all lights off and go on hibernation mode all throughout the month. Except no Pinoy is a killjoy.
Wishin’ and Hopin’
Ready for an extra challenge? Then, Simbang Gabi or Misa de Gallo it is.
Not only does it test the devoted Pinoy to fulfill their religious obligations, it could also try your determination to stay alive — or pretend to — after forcing yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour. And it doesn’t help that the air is so indulgently cool that it lures you back to dreamland and keeps you from taking even just one tabo of icy water for a torturous awakening. (So, you now realize what it takes to be a saint.)
But, wait there. Your suffering is far from over. You still have to move on to the next stage: sustaining your wakefulness during the mass. Of course, that old-school style of pinching yourself helps every time you feel like your eyelids need toothpicks to hold them up, or your head is already dropping to your seatmate’s reluctant shoulder. But to endure all these for nine straight days and miss watching the TV remake of Mara Clara (as if you didn’t know the ending) just so you can sleep much earlier? Aaargh!
So, why do you still go through all that? You martyrs might be starting to wonder by now.
As they say, bountiful rewards await the faithful. And just around the corner, or right in front of the church is the heavenly bibingka with everything on it — cheese, salted egg, and grated coconut — alleluia! And the puto bumbong! As to why it is purple remains a mystery to this day. The perennial question though is, what pairs well with bibingka or puto bumbong, the answer you should know by heart! A cup of hot, thick tsokolate. Isn’t that a delicious motivation?
And it’s just the icing on the cake. Here’s the best part: completing the Simbang Gabi earns you one granted wish. No Lotto ticket can do that for you.
So, that hottie you’ve been stealing glances at during mass? The one who inspired you to take a bath at 4 a.m. for nine days despite the literally hair-raising experience? That one whom you’ve long wanted to notice you? Well, your wish might just come true.
Merry Christmas, kabayans!
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