Thursday, December 25, 2008

Noche Buena

I was busy the whole day yesterday preparing for the traditional december 24dinner and noche buena. By 7:00 am i was already in SaveMore Supermarket to buy all the ingredients i needed. Lucky me found a beautiful pork roast which i cooked for hours just to make it tender. I also bought crab meat and cooked that with some coconut milk (gata), squash and beans. Then there's the 3 mushrooms soup, dinuguan and roast chicken. By 7:30 pm i was done cooking. My brother Ben arrived (my sister Ruby is in Zambales and my sister Ruth is in Macau for Christmas with her family).

We ate til we were full then packed some of the food left over to Cogeo in Antipolo. We arrived at my Uncle Jessie's place around 11:00 pm. We brought a case of ice cold beer and Ed, our cousin Marites' husband brought out a gallon of brandy. We had as pulutan what was left of the pork roast, and Ricky brought out a batch of his freshly-fried chicken. Their neighbors sent over a bowlful of delicious pancit canton. We talked and drank until 3 in the morning. Tes gave us an overview of life in Canada, and we joked about how some Canadians think of the Philippines as a country full of nipa huts.

By then we were already too stuffed and drunk so we decided to call it da night --er -- day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maligayang Pasko

Ang pasko ay sumapit na naman at sa loob ng mahiwagang panahong ito ay magkakaisa ang sambayanan... mga magkaka-away ay magbabati... mga ligaw na tupa ay babalik sa kanilang mga pamilya.. ang mga kuripot magiging mapag kawang-gawa. Ngunit kung ating papansinin ay makalipas ang kapaskuhan ay balik nanaman tayo sa ating dating gawi.

Ganito ba talaga ang mensahe ng kapaskuhan sa atin? Ang pasko ba ay isang mapagkunwari at kosmetikong pamamaraan upang kahit sa isang saglit ay mapatawad natin ang ating mga sarili sa ating mga ginawa sa buong taon?

Christmas is not about gift giving or receiving nor is it about prancing about town in new get-ups that are sure to make a few heads turn. Christmas is not about new gadgets that will surely earn the envy of officemates and colleagues.

In many ways, having stepped back from the doorway of Christianity and its traditions has made me realize its moral value more than when i was deeply steeped in dogma. But what i have learned is just for me. In the end, we will all come to a realization of what Christmas is, and when it hits us like a ton of bricks falling from Empire State, we will have a deeper realization and appreciation of Christmas.

May your Christmas be as meaningful - and personal. Maligayang Pasko Po.


Do Buddhists celebrate Christmas?

In the West most of the monastery residents have come from a basically Christian culture, so Christmas has some meaning for us. We don't have Christian rituals, but the spirit of Christmas - giving gifts, kindness, love, peace to all mankind - is something we enjoy and is a reason to celebrate. We send and receive a lot of cards. This year we decorated the temple with holly and evergreens, lit a lot of candles, did some special chanting in the temple, listened to a tape of some Christian monastic chanting and held a late night meditation vigil. When you look at different religions it is not difficult to find similarities so at this time we focus on those.