Category Archives: Christmas

The long wait is over. The cool breeze of air is making us feel that Christmas is here. The shining, shimmering lights and decorations accros every corner of the roads, in shopping malls or buildings, Santa Claus and his reindeers all along. Christmas trees were put-up with the star symbol on top of it and lots of wrapped gifts underneath.
As FDW’s are away from home, how do we celebrate Christmas? Everyone of us wishes to be back home in this festive, grandest season of the year but we don’t own our own time. We can’t just decide that at anytime we wish to go home, we can. We surely miss the traditional Christmas Dinner, the Noche Buena.
Lucky are those fellow FDW’s who are going home and are celebrating Christmas with their loved ones.
But away from home doesn’t mean we can’t make our Christmas a merry one,of course we can! Attending Christmas parties or gatherings with our friends or relatives is one way of celebrating. We prepare Filipino dishes to share, there are some games to play and prizes to be won and gift giving makes a happy and most awaited part of the party. Aside from this, we like to go walking at night and enjoy the beautiful decorations that symbolize Christmas or hop to the nearest island is what others do. And yes, do your favorite things to do, sleep as long as you want and eat delicious food and of course, buying yourself a few presents, wrap them and look surprised when you open them! Don’t forget to attend mass to feel the real essence of Christmas.
The joy that you feel may not be as heartfelt as when you are at home with your loved ones. But, wherever we are,we should have a great Christmas. Let’s feel the spirit of Christmas within us!

 

by Jo Ann Dhumlao

CHRISTMAS IN OUR HEARTS

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By: Jho Ann Dumlao

“People making lists, buying special gifts, taking time to be kind to one and all. Everywhere there’s an air of Christmas joy…”

This song I heard playing in the shop reminds me always of the time of festivity in my place in the Philippines. Yes, it’s Christmas time, the most awaited and most festive celebration every year. And we can call it “stress season” for some as well, I think. 
The Christmas spirit makes people selfless, more friendly, more kind and nicer, and more forgiving (reconciliation). It’s about spreading love and peace. Us, Foreign Domestic Workers, how do we cope up in celebrating this season?

Lucky are those who are going home in this season to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones. While others will just fill up a “balik bayan” box with goodies and send back home; a way for some to make their loved ones happy despite their absence. 
Christmas away from home is not that easy. We miss attending the early morning masses (simbang gabi) that starts every 16th of December and ends at Christmas Eve. Some people especially Catholics believe that if someone has completed the whole phase of “simbang gabi”, whatever they wished and prayed for will come true. The so-called caroling or singing Christmas songs from house to house and in return the household will give something like money or in any kind. And of course, the Noche Buena in which the family members get together over dinner full of chats and celebration. This is after the Misa de Gallo or Midnight Mass.
Christmas is also a good time for reunions.

We are doing so many sacrifices abroad that we missed a lot of grand celebrations or happenings back home. We can’t do otherwise; we don’t own our time either. 
Some of us just stay in the four corners of our employer’s house during Christmas. However, let’s just think that we are doing this not for ourselves but for our loved ones, for their better living situation.

Far away from home, we can still make our Christmas a merry one together with our friends, our family away from home. And may the spirit of Christmas reign in our hearts.

Memories of Christmas

This sad festive poem was written by Rea Maac, who has worked as a domestic worker  in Singapore for 7 years, and was a finalist of the recent Singapore Migrant Poetry competition.

 

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Memories of Christmas

 

Christmas is coming
Long wait is over soon
But the sadness in my heart
Can’t measure even up to the moon

Still in my mind
How it used to be
Way back with my family
Celebration of festivity

Going to the church to attend the mass
Feeding our soul with God’s love
While waiting for the stroke of 12 o’clock
Sign that Dear Jesus born alive.

After church, heading back home
Across the street we can hear the music
With all the shining Christmas light
We really can feel the yuletide spirit

With a simple meal on the table
Everybody seems excited and happy
What’s more important
Loving each other wholeheartedly.

Remembering those old memories
It has been 7 years I’m away
My whole family, I truly miss
To be with them, is all I wish.

CHRISTMAS AWAY FROM HOME

By: Juliet Ugay

The yuletide season is around the corner. The sound of Christmas songs plays on the radio and establishments, sparkling decorations are all over the place, people rushing here and there for their Christmas shopping.  Most importantly, Christmas is the season of sharing.

While we are preparing for Christmas season, have we ever thought about how people feel who are going to spend this holiday away from their home, away from their loved ones?

Domestic workers – the majority of them are spending Christmas away from home, and most will be working during this festive time. Happy are those who are fortunate to go back to their countries or go on a holiday somewhere they want. Some employers send their Domestic Workers home while they are away and some are kind enough to let their workers go home and be with their families at Christmas.

For Filipino Domestic Workers, Christmas is one of the most celebrated events of the year, as the majority of them are Catholics. It is when families get together. For other Domestic Workers, like those from  Indonesia, Myanmar, India or other countries, Christmas isn’t always celebrated as per religion. Some get bonuses, some don’t, some just work, and some will have parties with their friends.

I’ve asked some ladies what are their thoughts about celebrating Christmas away from home.

Pina Lorenzo, 39 and a mother of three has been working here for five years. She said that it is sad being away from her family at Christmas. She misses the warm celebration, the food and the get together. On the other hand, she said that going home during Christmas is costly and even though she wants to go back, she’d would choose to stay because she can save more. She plans to go home another time during the year. Pina said that sometimes being away for long makes a person get used to it, and that Christmas has become just a normal day.

“Celebrating Christmas away form home is really hard, kind of happy but incomplete. I am happy and thankful to have a very good employer and loving friends who will celebrate with me, and incomplete because I can feel deep in my heart that something is missing, and that my family. Nothing really compares to celebrating the season of giving and sharing with my family,” said Rona Javier, a mother of a three years old boy and has been working away for 8 years.

Indonesian Domestic Workers Nani Sunani Nurhalizah, who has worked in Singapore for 15 years, and Sri Niati Ayu Kasimun, celebrate Christmas with their friends, cooking food and sharing it with them. They said that even though majority of Indonesian Domestic Workers are Muslim, they do respect the Christmas tradition.

It can be quite sad to be away from home this Christmas but there are so many things to look forward to and to be thankful for. One of them is that you are healthy and you are  in a better position than some people out there who are experiencing the worst days of their lives.