Our 2014 Philippines Christmas Party


 

It started simply enough.

One day, while mowing our rather diminutive lawn, I noticed that some kids had gathered outside our gate.  Thoroughly Filipino, they were a curious lot, and the first question they had for me was “Are you sick?”  Not feeling particularly ill, I realized they had asked this question because I had no hair, which is an unusual condition among the usually well-coiffed Filipino.  “Naw,” I replied, sweating and circling the yard with our push mower, “I’m just opaw (bald).”

For some reason, they found this thoroughly hilarious. 

Not understanding their machine gun bisaya much, I was soon rescued by Michell who opened the gate and let the little miscreants into the yard.  After rummaging through our stuff and scaling the mango tree a few times, we got this photo of Michell and her new friends:

 

Michell's new friends.

Michell’s new friends.

 

 

After that, the kids would stop by just about every day, hollering for “Ate Chell (big sister Michell),” tumbling about the yard and chasing the Frisbee around (which they had first thought was a “plato” – plate).  Then – as Christmas approached – I thought it would be cool to do a Christmas dinner party for them.  I broached the subject with ate Chell, and she agreed.  And since the big Christmas thing in the Filipinos is held on Christmas Eve (everyone up til midnight Christmas day for gifts, family, food and fireworks), we decided that we would do it on Christmas day around 4 PM.  Michell then went to the parents/grandparents homes nearby to let them know when the holiday shindig was going down.

 

The kids dropped off the RSVP list.

The kids dropped off the RSVP list.

 

My better half then made up the menu for the day’s delights:  Sweet Filipino spaghetti (with extra hotdog, naturally), macaroni salad, hot dogs on sticks with marshmallow toppings, juice boxes, and candy – lots and lots of candy.  One of the families was going through some tough financial times (their mother was off working in Manila and their father was sick) so we picked up some gifts for their three daughters, wrapped them up and gave them to the grandmother to give them on Christmas Eve.  We also picked up a boatload of inexpensive gifts from the local Unitop (purveyor of fine Chinese goods) to give out as rewards during the “parlor games” segment of the day’s activities. 

 

Extra hotdog please....

Extra hotdog please….

 

Christmas Day came and Michell fired up the stove.  Although only 11 people had RSVP’d, we soon realized that we might need more food, so Michell sent me off to Robinson’s to pick up another kilo of spaghetti and sauce.  Thankfully, a lot of stores are actually open on Christmas Day, so I was able to retrieve the object of my quest and return to our very hot kitchen.  (It was also good that we had gotten more food as 34 people eventually showed up.) Michell had done up the macaroni salad the night before, so the rest of the cooking was done by 3 PM.  Dark clouds gathered overhead as we set up the furniture outside, and we soon had to move it inside as rain began to fall.  Our guests arrived a little after four, and we soon sat them down inside for dinner.  Thankfully, the rain took some time off, so after dinner we were able to set up outside so the kids could play games and do their singing and dancing stuff, which is an integral part of Filipino life.

 

Michell stands on a chair to stir the sauce....

Michell stands on a chair to stir the sauce….

 

Stirring in the sauce....

Stirring in the sauce….

 

 

Hotdog on a stick?

Hotdog on a stick?

 

After tossing the Frisbee for a bit, Michell started up the games.  First up was a musical hot-potato game, where the kid holding the potato (Frisbee, in this case) was eliminated but given a consolation prize of a bubble maker which soon resulted in a veritable Bubblelooza of near-rave proportions.  Following the hot potato game, Michell started the “Bring me…..” game, with her first request being “a yellow flower,” which nearly resulted in the destruction of the yellow flower plants lining the inside of our walled yard.  Seeing the wrappers and trash all over the yard, her final request of the game was “Bring me….. all the candy wrappers!” which was a pretty good call….

 

Frisbee!

 

Bubblepalooza.

Bubblepalooza.

Toys, prizes and candy were distributed and then the kids did a “Star ng Pasko” dance routine that a few of them had been practicing (the rest just followed their lead) and then sang a Tagalog Christmas song that Michell wasn’t able to identify but that the kids obviously loved.

 

Songs...

Songs…

 

... and dance.

… and dance.

 

Dark rain clouds then moved in and once again the rain began to fall.  The two eldest boys that attended cleaned up the mess while our guests expressed their thanks and made their way back home.

Overall, it was a GREAT day and one that I will always remember!  The laughter from the kids was absolutely infectious, and it helped remind me that Christmas isn’t about gifts and what you get, but instead it’s the people that you have and the joy that that entails.

It’s funny – when I was going through all the video to pick out parts for our highlight film, I couldn’t help but smile (and sometimes laugh aloud) at what I was seeing.  And that’s’ the great thing about film – your memory might not be perfect, but the images always are.

Merry Christmas!!   

Comments 21

  1. It’s the day after christmas and I just watched your christmas party video and read about the days events. I’m not one for parties or large gatherings but that looked like a good time. Those kids were so cute, smiling and laughing, playing, dancing and singing. I know Michell enjoyed doing that for the kids and it was apparent that you did too. That was very generous of you and Michell to do, and I don’t just mean financially. You shared your home and of your selves with the neighborhood kids. It made them happy and had to make you feel good.lYou and Michell gave them each something special, a day they will remember. They will miss you when you move.

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  2. That was so cool! It was so nice of y’all to do that for the kids and now not only do they have some great memories but you do too.

  3. Wow, what a fantastic gesture for these little kids. This means a world to them. Although it will not be Christmas then,you just gave me an idea to do the same when I come home to the Philippines next month. More power to you and Michelle.

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  4. Great Ned And MIchelle…obviously you and the kids had a great Christmas….MERRY CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE BEST FOR THE NEW YEAR !!

  5. Super guys.
    You are truly great people you just again proved that you are the people i imagined you were.
    Not that my opinion of you is that important .. it just makes me so happy to see people doing something for others.
    My respect and best wishes for the new year

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  6. you guys are great looks like the kids had a great afternoon michelle does a great job with the cooking keep it up great youtube channel fun to watch

  7. hi Ned and Michell, i already posted somewhere else about you both showing what this season used to be about. giving with no thought of getting back, happiness of children and the anonymous gifts so others can have a bit of what others have on Christmas morning, or in the Phil case Christmas Eve.
    it made me smile to watch the faces of the kids and Michell as the day went along. and to see pure happiness over a jar of bubbles is certainly humbling to me.
    Bless you both and i pray the coming year brings all good things and the strength and wisdom when Plan A doesn’t work out.
    thank you

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  8. Well done to both of you .. i loved seeing Michell on the chair cooking…
    My girlfriend is 5 foot 2…. I think my first reaction will be the same as your Ned…A bit short….
    .. I hope to meet up with you around Easter time .. Keep up the good work !! i love all your work … Best wishes Alan from Nottingham,currently living in Isla Margarita, …See you soon and good luck with the house hunting.. Happy New Year !!!

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  9. Hi Michelle and Ned.
    You did a great thing having a party with the neighboring kid.
    I was invited to my girlfriend’s family and I brought the kids Muppets and we invented stories. It was simple but they loved it. This was a blessed moment. Thanks for all your insights on the Philippines

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      Yeah, the kids are very easy to entertain here and we had a great time doing the party. It is something that we might do now and then throughout the year. I love the Muppets idea – I used to LOVE them as a kid, and it was a big part of my own life. 🙂 Thanks!

  10. To Ned & Michelle,
    Thank you for keeping me entertained and informed over the past year. Through your videos you have become part of my life and I want to wish you both a very happy new year. My Philippine Dream has 1 year to go but especially from your channel I feel I will be very well prepared. My long time partner will move to Duma in April in preparation for the new school year (she has 2 school aged kids) but due to committments here with my youngest child finishing university I will have to wait until November or December 2015 (in Australia kids do their “college” locally). So my year is sure to be exciting with change – I hope yours will be fulfilled and full of everything good. Best wishes, Paul

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  11. Hi Ned in answer to your question as to visiting Dumaguette the answer is yes. We were there last November and toured a number of places. We think we will seek a subdivision in Valencia but that will become clearer after my partner moves in April. At that time schooling will be the priority. I am spending a lot of time reading up on DI but we will look to rent for a year before building.
    We were originally thinking of setting up in Moalboal because my partner (from Manila) has friends there but after staying there we realised I, more than her, need the subdivisions and better hospitals in reaching distance. I am a healthy 55 year old but as they say, I ain’t getting any younger. She is keen to move away from her family in Manila ( which I totally agree with ) but still be able to get back within 24 hours if needed but far enough so it is hard for them to get to her. I will need to get back to Sydney 2 or 3 times per year and anticipate a steady flow of visitors from Australia at least for the first few years and then expect my kids who will work around the globe will make Dumaguette the reunion point once a year – especially if Dad is paying.

    By the way you and Michelle obviously love kids and each other so what’s the delay? I have met many lovely Filipinas in the 37 years that I have been visiting but from what I can see you struck gold straight away. Since you arrived in Phil she has mellowed you and made you a much happier person. Sure you have learnt to smile but take a good look at your earlier videos happiness and contentment now sits easily with you – most of that comes from your partnership. Cheers, Paul

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      Sounds like you have a good plan in place. Michell and I are just taking our time. She is still working on her career and we’re not ready for kids at this stage. It’s definitely in the works, though. She just wants to make sure that she gets the work experience that she needs at this time. And yeah – I did strike gold.

  12. Great video! It reminds me of my childhood days in old San Juan, Rizal, Philippines. Back in the days, we did enjoy simple things. We made our own toys, we played all day and sometimes well into the night under the full moon when there was no school the next day. My friends and I had tons of fun, just enjoying ourselves. I kind of really saw myself in these kids. Thanks. You both did a great job. I love the happiness and kindness you shared and the pure abundance of smiles and laughter that you both created. May God bless you and Michelle,

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