Christmas of 2013

First of all, I apologize if I start this blog with something a little bit sad despite the holidays. I promise to make it up to you, though. As you delve deeper into this blog post, I’ll turn the sad vibe upside down. Now, to get things started…



This year’s Christmas Eve marks my third consecutive Christmas Eve without my family. Christmas Eve 2011 was spent at Cebu with my college classmates for my course’s requirements. Christmas Eve 2012 was spent working at Florida, particularly at Jupiter Island Club in Hobe Sound. Christmas Eve 2013, which was last night, was spent with friends, cousins, and… my little sister Trixia here in Parañaque. Yes. Last night was an exception. If only Mom was here, we would have been complete. If only Mom didn’t… have to…

go back to Tacloban City during the holidays.

My mother’s side of the family always had this Christmas tradition of gathering and celebrating Christmas Eve together under one roof – the gathering of the ASTILLA CLAN. Then the storm surge came into the picture. Yolanda just had to break the continuous streak, and on top of that, the houses as well. The ASTILLA’s had to celebrate the holidays in different parts of the country. Howbeit this was my third, it was the first for most of my relatives. Hopefully, it’s the last too.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, it’s time to turn the tables and switch to a positive mood.

Despite being far from each other, our hearts are connected. The spirit of Christmas burns bright in our hearts and our love for one another fuels that unquenchable flame. Reminds me how lucky I am to be part of the clan.

As for our Noche Buena, we had a gallimaufry of pasta, chicken, and lechon (pork). Noche Buena wouldn’t be complete without the traditional lechon. There was a bellyfull of food, considering that there were only six of us: Trixia, Karlo, JJ, Popo, Stephanie, and yours truly. I was so stuffed that I didn’t have room for desserts. Popo was kind enough to share with his or I guess our neighbors.

After dinner, the entertainment began. Music was played, volume was up, and our series of games commenced.

First Game: Charades

There were only two categories: songs and movies. The group was divided into two groups: Trixia and Me, Karlo and JJ. Popo came up with the prize system while Steph devised the songs and movies. I must admit, I probably picked the hardest ones. I remember getting White Horse by Taylor Swift and So Sick by Neyo. I couldn’t act out a horse. Trixia mistook it for a dog. I was trying to do that thing where a horse tries to kick someone behind. For Neyo’s song, Trixia guessed the second word, but since she doesn’t know the song, and there was no way to act out the word “so”, we timed out. I was able to guess some of Trixia’s, though. Also, JJ picked Wrecking Ball and Karlo’s face was more crumpled than the paper we wrote the words in. It was a tough one. We even incited JJ to mimic Miley from her music video.

Second Game: Pinoy Henyo

The game was popularized by the longest noontime Filipino show Eat Bulaga. Basically, it’s a guessing game between two people. One person has a word stuck on his forehead and tries to guess it while the other one can only answer Yes, No, and Maybe.

Our pairs/roles remained the same.  Steph still came up with the words and Popo still handed out prizes. We had a minute and a half to guess the words. I have one weak category with games like this: Places. I’m so bad with places and directions. I would never make it without a map or a decent map app.

We had a plethora of very very random words either in English or Filipino. Some words were pretty easy like a ship and Tacloban (my hometown), and some were outrageously hellacious like The Da Vinci Code. Suddenly, a twist presents itself. Actually, more like a gamble. An all-or-nothing round. The pairs were to give Popo and Steph one word each, and if they guessed correctly, they get to keep all the money the pairs earned. If they lost, well, they lose. We don’t really gain anything. Except the fun of letting them guess the most random of words. Stephanie got The Da Vinci Code and Popo got Jerusalem. Both were unable to guess correctly. Honestly, our little brainstorming of words resulted in us considering using the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It would have been one of the hardest words ever for a simple game. It would have been unfair too. We decided to brush off the idea.




Our games were so much fun that every once in a while, we would burst into laughter that reverberated in the house. The Entertainment part ended at almost exactly midnight. Impeccable timing. Then came one of the most anticipated parts – gift giving.

I handpicked all five of their gifts. It wasn’t much really. But they had to prove themselves worthy. Hidden inside our little home here were five gifts. Each gift had three riddles scattered all over. I handed them the first riddle for each of their gifts, tucked nicely inside an Ang Pao (the red Chinese envelope thingy for money). At first, they thought I just gave them money. I asked them to open the Ang Paos all at the same time, and everyone read their first riddle in unison. To think, just a few minutes before, I was so busy casually hiding all their riddles and gifts. It was not easy task.

In a fraction of a second, all five of my housemates dispersed. I stood in one corner so as not to get in the way. They rummaged high and low for their clues. Karlo’s gift was under the sink, Trixia’s hid under the bed where the monsters dwell, Popo’s not-so-hidden gift was under a lamp, Stephanie’s gift was tucked under her bed’s mattress like the pea in Princess and the Pea, and lastly, JJ’s gift, the easiest one to hide, was under the telephone. Everyone opened their gifts at the same time.

Stephanie got a Pink Revlon nail polish, Popo got an iPhone 5 lighter, Trixia got the entire Diary ng Panget book series, JJ got a Bleach keychain, ang Karlo got a Spoof t-shirt (Rule #3 A true man always gets extra rice). How about me, you ask? I know you didn’t ask, but I’ll say it anyway. I received the greatest gift of all. God used me as an instrument to bring happiness to these five people. I could never ask for a greater gift than that.


Thank you Daddy God for all the blessings you have showered down upon me and my loved ones. You didn’t just spare my family from certain death, but You have also given us the gift of happiness and love. THANK YOU!


2 thoughts on “Christmas of 2013

  1. Belated Merry Christmas and an awesome New Year. Hope our countrymen back home had a joyful holidays too despite of the storm & all. My friend & I are starting the year with Joy of giving campaign via ShellterBox for Tacloban & the Visayas. We’re selling t-shirts called Bangon Pilipinas for our ShelterBox team called Bangon Pilipinas too & Islan Traveler as well. If you got time, check it out. You can create a community in your state as well. Recovery back home has barely began. Thanks.

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