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AROUND THE WORLD

ENGLAND: PRINCE WILLIAM REVEALS HOW PRINCE GEORGE AND PRINCESS CHARLOTTE WILL SPEND CHRISTMAS DAY


DECEMBER 12 -Prince George with his little sister when she was just two  months old Prince William has revealed what two-year-old Prince George and six-month-old Princess Charlotte will be getting up to on Christmas day. The Duke of Cambridge said he's already aware it's unlikely he'll get much sleep on Christmas eve, now George understands Christmas that bit more. "We'll go to church as a family on Christmas Day as we always do," he said in an interview with the Big Issue. "George will be bouncing around like a rabbit. "[We'll have] two children, one who suddenly appreciates Christmas, which could be quite challenging. But I'm looking forward to it." READ MORE...

ALSO FROM TORONTO: PHNO's family dentist is a new grandma


DECEMBER 14 -Baby Lester David Santiago Liu-Glass is the new grandson of Dr. Victoria Santiago Liu; first baby of her only daughter Veronica, now Mrs .  William James Glass. Photos from grandma's mobile phone taken on American Thanksgiving Day 2015. IN 2011 Veronica, in her mom's own words, "found her niche in the world of pop-up books".
MELVILE HOUSE INTERVIEW WITH VERONICA: Veronica Liu on making a pop-up bookstore in New York City --Word Up, the pop-up volunteer-run bookstore in Washington Heights, might be a more permanent fixture in the neighborhood if the shop’s creators are able to negotiate a new agreement with the landlord. Veronica Liu, an editor at Seven Stories Press, told DNA info that “This bookstore has been a vibrant hub for local arts and for generating new community dialogue in languages such as English, Spanish, and even Russian.” Because we at Melville House like to support small bookstores near and far, I decided to interview Ms. Liu and ask her what’s been happening  at one of our favorite places. [POP-UP BOOKS: The term pop-up book is often applied to any 3-dimensional or movable book, although properly the umbrella term movable book covers pop-ups, transformations, tunnel books, volvelles, flaps, pull-tabs, pop-outs, pull-downs, and more, each of which performs in a different manner. Also included, because they employ the same techniques, are three-dimensional greeting cards. The audience for early movable books were adults, not children. The first known movable in a book was created by Benedictine monk Matthew Paris in his Chronica Majora, which covers a period beginning in 1240. In the United States, in the 1930s, Harold Lentz followed Giraud's lead with the production of the Blue Ribbon books in New York. He was the first publisher to use the term "pop-up" to describe their movable illustrations.CONTINUE READING... Full interview on Veronica's WORD UP pop-up bookstore  and her mom's first (in Toronto) Family Dentistry at the Rosedale Medical Centre....

ALSO: Christmas in the Philippines (Filipino: Pasko sa Pilipinas)


Paról (Christmas lanterns) being sold during the Christmas season in the Philippines. The paról is one of the most iconic and beloved symbols of the holiday. PASKO SA PILIPINAS is one of two predominantly Christian countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays in the archipelago. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world's longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols heard as early as September and lasting variously until either Epiphany, the Feast of the Black Nazarene on 9 January, or the Feast of the Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January. The official observance by the Church in the Philippines is from the beginning of the Simbang Gabi on 16 December until the Feast of the Epiphany on the first Sunday of the year.The various ethnic groups in the Philippines each observe different Christmas traditions, and the following are generally common. READ MORE...

ALSO: Filipino's poor childhood inspires 500K-light Christmas show


DECEMBER 13 -Nov. 29, 2015 photo, a Filipino boy walks beside Christmas decorations outside a house in Cainta, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines. The house is drawing huge crowds, especially during weekends, with visitors using the bright lights and festive Christmas decors as their backdrop for selfies with families and friends. AP/Aaron Favila
CAINTA, Philippines — As a child from a poor family, Alexander Cruz marveled at the big houses adorned with Christmas lights near his Philippine neighborhood, but the gates were always closed.
Now a successful businessman with a huge house in a hilly town south of Manila, Cruz celebrates Christmas in even more spectacular style. About half a million colorful lights cover every inch of his home: the roof, ceiling, walls, fence, doors, canopies, windows and even the trees. And he and his wife open the gates to everyone. "We're doing this to share our blessings, to give or share the spirit of Christmas to the people who visited our place," the 55-year-old Cruz said in an interview. His home in Cainta has dazzled people far beyond the quiet town of around 290,000 people. TV networks have documented his holiday wonderland, which has become the backdrop for countless selfies and sees up to 1,000 visitors per day. "It brings back childhood feelings of Christmas, like in the movies, that you see big houses with big lights," said Ella Cosme, a 34-year-old software programmer. "You feel like a child." The lighting is designed by Cruz's wife, Aida, and preparations for the display start as early as August. Alexander Cruz estimated that they used 5,000 boxes of LED lights, with each box containing a hundred bulbs. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope Francis opens the door to Catholic Jubilee


DECEMBER 13 -Pilgrims attend a papal mass in St Peter’s square for the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on December 8, 2015 in Vatican. Pope Francis marks the start of an extraordinary Jubilee year for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics by opening a “Holy Door” in the walls of St Peter’s basilica. At 9.30 am (0830 GMT), the Argentinian pontiff will pronounce the words “Aperite mihi Porta Iustitiae” — Latin for “open to me the gates of justice” — and the door, which is normally bricked up, will be opened. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO by Angus MACKINNON
Vatican City, Holy See | AFP – Tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims assembled in Rome Tuesday to watch Pope Francis open a “Holy Door” in the walls of St Peter’s basilica at the start of an extraordinary Jubilee year. After a mass on St Peter’s square, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics was to pronounce the words “Aperite mihi Porta Iustitiae” — Latin for “open to me the gates of justice” — and the door, which is normally bricked up, opened.
The first pilgrims had been in the square since before dawn in search of a prime spot to watch the latest enactment of a 700-year-old tradition laden with religious symbolism. An estimated 50,000 people, including hundreds of cardinals, bishops and members of religious orders, attended an event subject to unprecedented security measures in the wake of recent terrorist attacks around the world. As Francis initiated the mass, many of the pilgrims had tears running down their cheeks, others listened in silent contemplation or private prayer. Images of the ceremony were beamed live around the world. In Catholic tradition, the opening of “Holy Doors” in Rome symbolises an invitation from the Church to believers to enter into a renewed relationship with God. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Prince William Reveals How Prince George and Princess Charlotte Will Spend Christmas Day


Prince George "suddenly appreciates" Christmas

UNITED KINGDOM, DECEMBER 14, 2015 (HUFFINGTON POST UK) The      Huffington Post UK | By Amy Packham 07/12/2015 09:59 GMT - Prince William has revealed what two-year-old Prince George and six-month-old Princess Charlotte will be getting up to on Christmas day.

The Duke of Cambridge said he's already aware it's unlikely he'll get much sleep on Christmas eve, now George understands Christmas that bit more.


Prince George with his little sister when she was just two months old


Princess Charlotte at 6 months plays with the toy dog that made her chuckle

"We'll go to church as a family on Christmas Day as we always do," he said in an interview with the Big Issue. "George will be bouncing around like a rabbit.

"[We'll have] two children, one who suddenly appreciates Christmas, which could be quite challenging. But I'm looking forward to it."

READ MORE...

Prince William said after church, it'll be time for presents.

"Then we'll watch George try to tackle his presents as he tries to unwrap them!" he added.

"It’s a very different experience at Christmas, having a family of your own. It’d be nice if we got a white Christmas because we haven’t had one in many years."

The couple recently released new images of Princess Charlotte at six months, the first time she has been seen since her christening in July.


ALSO: PHNO's family dentist is a new grandma
[TRIBUTE TO GRANDMAs]

❤ Everything my grandma does...
is something special made with love.
She takes time to add the extra touch that says,
"I love you very much."
She fixes hurts with a kiss and smile
and tells good stories grandma-style.
It's warm and cozy on her lap
for secret telling or a nap.
And when I say my prayers at night
I ask God to bless and hold her tight.
'Cause when it comes to giving hugs
my grandma's arms are filled with love.
~unknown posted at  softwhispers


Baby Lester David Santiago Liu-Glass son of  Veronica, daughter of Vicky Santiago-Liu 
and the late David Liu of Toronto. Photo taken on American Thanksgiving Day this year. 
IN 2011 Veronica, in her mom's own words, "found her niche in the world of pop-up books". 

[POP-UP BOOKS: The term pop-up book is often applied to any three-dimensional or movable 
book, although properly the umbrella term movable book covers pop-ups, transformations, 
tunnel books, volvelles, flaps, pull-tabs, pop-outs, pull-downs, and more, each of which performs in 
a different manner. Also included, because they employ the same techniques, are 3-dimensional 
greeting cards. The audience for early movable books were adults, not children. The first known
movable in a book was created by Benedictine monk Matthew Paris in his Chronica Majora, which 
covers a period beginning in 1240. In the United States, in the 1930s, Harold Lentz followed 
Giraud's lead with the production of the Blue Ribbon books in New York. He was the first publisher 
to use the term "pop-up" to describe their movable illustrations. FROM WIKIPEDIA] 
CONTINUE READING...
MELVILEE HOUSE INTERVIEW: Veronica Liu on making a pop-up 
bookstore in New York City 

Veronica Santiago Liu (Now Mrs. William James Glass, New York City
and mother of new baby Lester David Santiago Liu-Glass)

December 16, 2011 INTERVIEW: by Melville House; Word Up, the pop-up volunteer-run bookstore 
in Washington Heights, might be a more permanent fixture in the neighborhood if the shop’s creators
are able to negotiate a new agreement with the landlord. 
Veronica Liu, an editor at Seven Stories Press, told DNA info that “This bookstore has been a vibrant 
hub for local arts and for generating new community dialogue in languages such as English, Spanish, 
and even Russian.” 
Because we at Melville House like to support small bookstores near and far, I decided to interview 
Ms. Liu and ask her what’s been happening  at one of our favorite places. Here's the Veronica on 
Word Up:

MOBY: How did 'Word Up' start? 

FACEBOOK PHOTO (Also click image to go to WordUp FB timeline)

Veronica Liu: Word Up most concretely came out of a conversation I had in February 2011 with Sandra Garcia Betancourt and Diana Caba, both of the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, while we were all attending a reading at the Sunday Best Reading Series—one of the very few (at the time) regular lit/book events in Washington Heights.

The readers that day were the literary grantees for a re-grant program that NoMAA does.

I had been a grantee the year before to complete a novel, and while one of the requirements had been the suggestion to do a reading in the neighbourhood, it wasn’t a requirement—which was good because at the time I really had no clue of any ready uptown venues where I could read.

Also, some of the writers at this February reading had books available, but besides that day, where else could their neighbours access the books?


DIANA CABA --photo from Wordpress

Sandra, Diana, and I initially talked about doing a one-day uptown literary arts fair (I have organized five of these fairs, but in a neighbourhood a little bit south of the Heights), but during the course of the chat, a fair began to sound too short.

There were a lot of writers and a few presses I had heard of that were above 155 Street (and of course there would be the need to contact certain Spanish- and Russian-language presses and authors too), and the rare opportunity to connect them all seemed to call for more than a day-long event.


Sandra Garcia-Betancourt Photo Source

Then Sandra contacted Raquel Batista from Vantage about using an empty storefront, as NoMAA had done for one of their earlier programs, and that is how we got the space.

The shop was originally going to be only open for a week, but then we had to change locations. The newer (and present) location was much bigger, so we decided before opening that we would put up the shop for the whole month.

Between picking up the keys and our grand opening, we had just under 4 days to move in (and our dayjobs during the day)!

The idea of a bookshop/infoshop/venue of sorts had been brewing for a while. Mostly just from walking around the neighbourhood and seeing such concentrations of people (181 Street is as busy as Canal Street on a Friday afternoon), and from thinking that it would be nice to pop into a bookshop and loiter around some books.


Raquel Batista | LinkedIn photo www.linkedin.com

And noting that, though I could easily hop on a train and travel to any of the bookstores I enjoy frequenting, a lack of them in our intensely populated neighbourhood meant that there were a ton of kids who weren’t growing up with the experience of having such a space close by. (According to the Community Board 12 website, our area has the highest concentration of children and youth of any district in Manhattan.)

MOBY: How has the transition from a pop-up store to a more permanent fixture been received?

VL: It’s funny that this question assumes the opposite path from what, in my mind, happened. I thought I would do this thing for a week, tops a month. I hoped that it would inspire someone better prepared than me to open up a bookshop in my neighbourhood immediately, and that I would go back to the rest of my life in the meantime, with the possibility of opening a bookshop/music venue/WHFR storefront studio “for real” much later. (Currently WHFR—Washington Heights Free Radio—operates out of my apartment.)


SCREENGRAB: DJs: Above the Bridge readers and Veronica Liu Program: Above the Bridge Air Date: 2/3/11 1:00 AM-1:15 AM  Listen Now (Click browser BACK ARROW or CLOSE NEW TAB to go back to PHNO)

But right from opening night, groups of people who came by began to discuss how to keep the place in the neighbourhood forever. People used the word “forever”!

Some of these people were our earliest volunteers and helped set up the initial operating procedures for the store, some were performers on opening night, some were writers or publishers in the neighbourhood that were now happy they had a spot to sell their book not so far from where they lived—while were people who happened upon the event that same night!

People who had lived around the corner for 30, 40, 50 years without a bookshop nearby (no one is counting the Columbia Med School textbook store).

So instead of going back to the rest of my life, I have instead gone down in hours at work (though still at Seven Stories), deferred a grad school program, and now the whole sprawling collective of folks at Word Up and I are working out with the landlord—in association with NoMAA—a longer-term agreement so that we can stay for many more months without the stress of this month-to-month thing.

The question of becoming a neighbourhood fixture is an interesting one in such an intensely populated neighbourhood that is characterized by both so much change and so much stability: gentrification is one of the big issues of our neighbourhood, while we’re at the same time one of the (relatively) least gentrified spots in all of Manhattan. We aren’t on the yellow-cab map.

There is also a big movement that’s gone on here over the past few years, of uptowners trying to show other uptowners that, right where we are, that’s where it’s at, we don’t need to always head downtown or to Brooklyn to check out our peers’ work, etc. But that is all tied to having spaces to do things.

There aren’t as many such spaces uptown in proportion to the number of people who live up here.

Looking at 2000 census numbers (because I’m an idiot and can’t find how to look up quickly the 2010 census numbers and these answers to your questions are already so late), there are almost 300,000 people above 145 Street and only 2 functioning NYPL branches. Compare that to half the number of people and 6 branches below Houston Street.

The biggest decision a pop-up shop can make would be to transition to being a more permanent space. But with such a need for spaces, it soon felt like it would be a disservice to the neighbourhood if we didn’t try to make that transition.

MOBY: What does it mean to be a community bookstore?

VL: Generally, to my mind, it means providing a local venue for community engagement and info-sharing, where one can also read and purchase books. You know, I think often to Dennis’s post in the summer about real estate and Borders.

Real estate is the key to so much for us. We’ve been able to futz around outside a traditional business model for running a bookstore because we had the benefit of donated space for the first 5.5 months.

We’re on Broadway just south of the GW Bridge—but what if we’d been one block over on Fort Washington Avenue? We’ve been able to create this community space under somewhat favourable conditions, though at the same time I think we were allowed these favourable conditions because this was something so many people just plain wanted.

MOBY: What is a book that you can’t stop recommending to people?

VL: Depends on what they are looking for—fiction, nonfiction, a gift, something with photos, “something fun,” more environmental books . . .

A lot of people come in already looking for Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, or, even more often, the Spanish-language edition, La otra historia de los Estados Unidos. Which means I don’t even have to recommend it to people. I obviously recommend Rebel Bookseller all the time, and one of these days I hope more people will take me up on it.

I often get fixated on books related to whatever event we have just had, or are about to have. For instance, though I already knew and loved Felipe Galindo’s hilarious illustrations (he was one of the first neighbours I asked to bring stock for the store), leading up to his Day of the Dead event, I think I exclaimed Manhatitlan! maybe 70 times in a week trying to get people into it.

MOBY: Last question: Would you describe yourself as rabidly Canadian?

VL: Once upon a time, yes. I did a college radio show called Far Too Canadian, which sort of started as a gimmick but then ended up tricking me into thinking that I really was that into Canada. But I didn’t think about Canada until I moved away from it. I don’t think about it as much now as I used to, though I do still have this email address (fartoocanadian@…) that makes people think I am farting in their inbox.SOURCE --MELVILLE HOUSE


Columbia Spectator: Word Up provides safe space for community members, artists

WATCH VIDEO: Thanks to Patrick Shulman for the wonderful video for Columbia Daily Spectator.

---------------------------------------------------------


website:  http://www.thefamilydentistry.ca/  email: dr.vsliu@bellnet.ca


the proud grnadma

BY DR. VICTORIA SANTIAGO-LIU: Welcome to Family Dentistry, our dedicated team of professionals have served our patients since the early1980's and enjoyed the smiles we bring to all who walk through our doors.

We use the latest proven techniques and highest quality equipment to ensure that your experience is pleasant and free from discomfort. We are proud to offer our patients a full range of services to help improve or maintain their dental health, be sure to contact us with any questions or to book an appointment today!

Formed in early 1980's Family Dentistry was the vision of 
Dr. Victoria Santiago,  a pioneer of dental practices in Ontario. 

Dr. Santiago pulled together 'a union of like-minded Dental 
professionals' who would provide families with the utmost care 
and dedication towards oral health. 

Family Dentistry provides families with a caring and warm environment where their every need is taken into consideration. Children and adults alike are provided a comfortable place where all are welcome and feel at ease when sitting in our chairs.

Ultimately, what makes us special comes from how happy people feel about our services. When our guests leave our office with happy, healthy & satisfied smiles, we know that we’ve done a great job and that’s what has built our reputation over many years.
VISIT SOURCE FOR MORE: http://www.thefamilydentistry.ca/


WIKIPEDIA

ALSO: Christmas in the Philippines (Filipino: Pasko sa Pilipinas)


Paról (Christmas lanterns) being sold during the Christmas season in the Philippines. The paról is one of the most iconic and beloved symbols of the holiday.

PASKO SA PILIPINAS is one of two predominantly Christian countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays in the archipelago.

The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world's longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols heard as early as September and lasting variously until either Epiphany, the Feast of the Black Nazarene on 9 January, or the Feast of the Santo Niño on the third Sunday of January.

The official observance by the Church in the Philippines is from the beginning of the Simbang Gabi on 16 December until the Feast of the Epiphany on the first Sunday of the year.

The various ethnic groups in the Philippines each observe different Christmas traditions, and the following are generally common.

READ MORE...

Christmas parties

In urban areas like Metro Manila, many offices organise Christmas parties. These are usually held during the second week of December, or right before schools and universities go on holiday.

Common activities include Monito/Monita (Kris Kringle), musical or theatrical performances and parlor games. Food is provided either through potluck, or via a pool of contributions to buy food. Some have fireworks displays.

Simbang Gabi/Misa de Gallo


A set of nine-consecutive early morning mass that starts on the 16th of December.

Simbang Gabi ("Night Mass"; Spanish: Misa de Gallo, "Rooster's Mass", or Misa de Aguinaldo, "Gift Mass") is a novena of dawn Masses from 16 December to Christmas Eve.

The Simbang Gabi is practised mainly by Catholic and Aglipayans, with some Evangelical Christian and independent Protestant churches having adopted the practise of having pre-Christmas dawn services. Attending the Masses is meant to show devotion to God and heightened anticipation for Christ's birth, and folk belief holds that God grants the special wish of a devotee that hears all nine Masses.

Morning observance of Simbang Gabi begins as early as 03:00 PST, while in some parishes, anticipated Masses begin the previous evening at 20:00 PST.


Among the other treats you can find bibingka, sapin-sapin, kutsinta, and puto.

After hearing Mass, Catholic families buy traditional Filipino holiday fare for breakfast outside the church and eat it either within the church precincts or at home. Vendors offer many native delicacies, including bibingka (rice flour and egg-based cake, cooked using coal burners above and under); putò bumbóng (a purple, sticky rice delicacy steamed in bamboo tubes, buttered then sprinkled with brown sugar and shredded dried coconut meat).

Drinks include coffee, salabát (a ginger infusion) and tsokoláte (thick, Spanish-style hot chocolate). Some Aglipayan churches invite the congregation to partake of the "paínit" (literally, "heater"), a post-Mass snack of mostly rice pastries served with coffee or cocoa at the house of the Mass sponsor.

Christmas Eve

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve ("Bisperas ng Pasko") on 24 December is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and the traditional Noche Buena feast. Family members dine together at around midnight on traditional yuletide fare, which includes: queso de bola (Filipino Spanish for "ball of cheese", which is made of edam sealed in red paraffin wax); tsokoláte, noodles and pasta, fruit salad, pandesal, relleno and hamón (Christmas ham). Some families would also open presents at this time.

Panunulúyan

In different provinces and schools, the journey of Joseph and the pregnant Virgin Mary in search of lodging is re-enacted. The pageant, traditionally called the "Panunulúyan", "Pananawágan", or "Pananapátan", is modelled after the Spanish Las Posadas.


Panunuluyan – Reviving a Filipino Christmas Tradition in New York - By AJ Press Published: January 2, 2013 FROM THE AsianJournal.com

The Panunulúyan is performed after dark, with the actors portraying Joseph and the Virgin Mary going to pre-designated houses. They perform a chant meant to rouse the "owners of the house" (also actors) to request for lodging. The owners then cruelly turn them away, sometimes also in song, saying that their house is already filled with other guests. Finally, Joseph and Mary make their way to the parish church where a replica of the stable has been set up. The birth of Jesus is celebrated at midnight with the Misa de Gallo.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day in the Philippines is primarily a family affair. The Misa de Gallo is celebrated on December 25 and is usually one of several Masses that all family members (including non-churchgoers) are present. The Misa de Gallo is often celebrated between and midnight, a schedule preferred by many Filipinos who stay up late on Christmas Eve for the night-long celebration of the Noche Buena.

Preferably in the morning, Filipinos typically visit their extended family, especially to pay their respects to senior relatives. This custom of giving respect is enacted through the "Págmamáno".


Pagmamano in Davao City, Philippines

A supplicant takes the back of an elder's hand and presses it against the forehead, while giving the greeting, Máno, pô (lit. "[Thy] hand, please"). The elder often responds by reciting a blessing or simply acknowledging the gesture, and in return gives "Aguinaldo" or money in the form of crisp banknotes, often placed in a sealed envelope such as an ang pao. Godparents in particular are socially obligated to give presents or aguinaldo to their godchildren, to whom they often give larger amounts compared to other younger relatives.

A festive lunch may follow the "Págmamáno". The menu is heavily dependent upon the finances of the family, with richer families preparing grand feasts, while poorer families choose to cook simple yet special dishes. Some families choose to open presents on this day after the lunch.

When nighttime falls, members of the family usually return home or linger to drink, play parlour games, and chat. Some may opt to have another feast for dinner, while a minority spend the entire day at home to rest after the previous days' festivities.

Niños Inocentes

Holy Innocents' Day or Childermas is commemorated on 28 December as Niños Inocentes. Filipinos once celebrated the day by playing practical jokes on one another, similar to April Fool's Day.

One of the widely practised pranks on this day is to borrow money without the intention of paying back. Creditors are usually helpless in getting remuneration from borrower, and are instead forewarned not to lend money on this day. Victims of such pranks were once called out, "Na-Niños Inocentes ka!"

New Year's Eve

On 31 December (Bisperas ng Bagong Taón), Filipino families gather for the Media Noche – a lavish midnight feast that supposedly symbolises their hopes for prosperity in the coming year, and lasts until the following morning as with the Noche Buena taken on Christmas Eve.

Filipinos make noise both to greet the New Year and in the belief that the din exorcises their surroundings of malevolent spirits. In spite of the yearly ban, people in most towns and cities customarily light firecrackers, or employ safer methods of merrymaking such as banging on pots and pans and blowing car horns.

Other traditions and beliefs include encouraging children to jump at the stroke of midnight to increase their height; displaying circular fruit such as oranges; wearing clothes with dots and other circular designs to symbolise coins and money; eating twelve grapes at midnight for good luck in the twelve months of the year (a Spanish custom); and opening all windows and doors to let in the blessings on the first day of the year.

Three Kings' Day


Feast of the Three Kings celebrated in Mabitac, Laguna, Philippines. © Sidney Snoeck, all rights reserved SOURCE: CATHOLIC CULTURES

Christmas officially ends on the Feast of the Epiphany, more commonly known as Three Kings' Day (Spanish: Día de los Tres Reyes; Tagalog: Araw ng Tatlóng Harì). Three Kings' was once observed on 6 January (Twelfth Night) but the Catholic Church moved its observance to the Sunday immediately after New Year's Day.

A dying tradition is the Hispanic custom of children leaving their shoes out by the window or the door, so that the Three Kings can leave small gifts like candy or money inside.

Feast of the Black Nazarene

Since 2011, the Catholic Church mandated that the season end on the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, held on either the Monday after Epiphany of the second Sunday of the year. Final festivities are held on 8 and 9 January with processions of the miraculous Black Nazarene in Manila and Cagayan de Oro. These are in honour of the image's 1787 traslación (transfer) to its present shrine in its basilica in Quiapo District, which was then a separate town.

Feast of the Santo Niño

The latest date for the end of popular Christmas celebrations is the Feast of the Santo Niño (Christ Child) on the third Sunday of January. The image most associated with this day is the purportedly miraculous Santo Niño de Cebú, the first Christian icon brought to the islands. In 1521, Ferdinand Magellan came to Cebú and gave the image as a present to Humamay, chief consort of the local monarch, Raja Humabon, when she, her husband, and a number of his subjects were baptised into the Catholic faith.

Tradition holds that Humamay—who received the Christian name Juana after Joan of Castile—danced for joy upon receiving the Santo Niño, providing a legendary origin for the fervent religious dancing during the Sinulog held in the image's honour.

Celebrations are mostly focused in Cebu, where the Sinulog Festival is held, while there are other celebrations held nationwide in its honor, including the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan Province, the Dinagyang in Ilolio, and the feasts of the Holy Child in the districts of Tondo and Pandacan in Manila.

The Feast of Our Lady of the Candles (Nuestra Señora de la Purificacion y Candelaria)

In older traditions (which are still kept in the liturgical calendar of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass) Christmas lasted until Candle-mas, or the Feast of the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of the Baby Jesus at the Temple, which marked the end of a long 40 day “Christmastide” corresponding to the 40 days of Lent.

This date falls on February 2, after Mary had participated in a rite of purification in according to the ancient Candlemas festival rooted in Halakha (Jewish law). This is also when Simeon makes his well-known prophecy to Mary and Joseph about the Holy Child, of Jesus being a light for the Gentiles.

Many parishes, if possible will still keep their nativity scenes displayed up until the celebration of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2.[5] This final salvo is marked by the Feast of Our Lady of the Candles in Jaro, Iloilo City, where the image is enshrined in the Jaro Cathedral, the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles, where Tridentine Masses are celebrated in commemoration.

Similar celebrations are held nationwide in towns where Our Lady of the Candles is its patroness, including Candelaria, Quezon, whose town fiesta is celebrated on this date.

Decorations

Due to Americanisation, decorations such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, tinsel, faux evergreens, reindeer, and snow have become popular. Christmas lights are strung about in festoons, as the tail of the Star of Bethlehem in Belens, star shapes, Christmas trees, angels, and in a large variety of other ways, going as far as draping the whole outside of the house in lights. Despite these, the Philippines still retains its traditional decorations.
Paról

A paról decorated with an intricate design, often lit during the evening

Every Christmas season, Filipino homes and buildings are adorned with star-shaped lanterns, called paról from the Spanish farol, meaning "lantern" or "lamp".[6] These lanterns represent the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Magi, also known as the Three Kings (Tagalog: Tatlóng Harì). Parol are as beloved and iconic to Filipinos as Christmas trees are to Westerners.

The most common form of the lantern is a 5-pointed star with two "tails" at the lower two tips.

Other popular variations are four, eight, and ten-pointed stars, while rarer ones sport six, seven, nine, and more than twelve points. The earliest parols were made from simple materials like bamboo, Japanese rice paper (known as "papél de Hapón") or crêpe paper, and were lit by a candle or coconut oil lamp.

Simple parols can be easily constructed with just ten bamboo sticks, paper, and glue. Present-day parol has endless possible shapes and forms and is made of a variety of materials, such as cellophane, plastic, rope, capiz shell, glass, and even recycled refuse. Parol-making is a folk craft, and many Filipino children often craft them as a school project or for leisure.

The Giant Lantern Festival is an annual festival held the Saturday before Christmas Eve in the San Fernando City, Pampanga. The festival features a competition of giant lanterns, and the popularity of the festival, has earned the city the moniker, "Christmas Capital of the Philippines".
Belén[edit]

A Nativity Scene in Ibaan, Batangas


SOURCE: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ibaan,Batangasjf9624_09.JPG

Another traditional Filipino Christmas symbol is the belén—a creche or tableau depicting the Birth of Christ. Derived from the Spanish name for Bethlehem, Belén, it depicts the infant Jesus in the manger, surrounded by the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the shepherds, their flock, the Magi and some stable animals, and is surmounted by an angel, the Star or both.

Belén can be seen in homes, churches, schools and even office buildings; the ones on office buildings can be extravagant, using different materials for the figures and using Christmas lights, parols for the Star, and painted background scenery.

A notable outdoor belén in Metro Manila is the one that used to be at the COD building in Cubao, Quezon City. In 2003, the belén was transferred to the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan when the COD building closed down.

This belén is a lights and sounds presentation, the story being narrated over speakers set up and most probably using automatons to make the figures move up and down, or turn, etc. Each year, the company owning it changes the theme from the Nativity Story, with variations such as a fairground story, and Santa Claus' journey.

Tarlac City, Tarlac is known as the Belén Capital of the Philippines holds the annual "Belenísmo sa Tarlac". It is a belén-making contest which is participated by establishments and residents in Tarlac. Giant versions of the belén with different themes are displayed in front of the establishments and roads of Tarlac for the entire season.

Caroling

In the Philippines, children in small groups go from house to house singing Christmas carols, which they called pangangaroling. Makeshift instruments include tambourines made with tansans (aluminum bottle caps) strung on a piece of wire. With the traditional chant of "Namamasko po!", these carolers wait expectantly for the homeowners to reward them with coins. Afterward, the carolers thank the generous homeowners by singing "Thank you, thank you, ang babait ninyo (you are so kind), thank you!"

An example of a traditional Filipino carol is a part of series known as "Maligayang Pasko", which was commonly called as "Sa maybahay ang aming bati":

Maligayang Pasko (Tagalog) Merry Christmas (English)
Sa maybahay, ang aming bati:
"Merry Christmas na maluwalhati!"
Ang pag-ibig, 'pag siyang naghari
Araw-araw ay magiging Pasko lagi!!
Koro:
Ang sanhi po, ng pagparito,
Ay hihingi po ng aguinaldo.
Kung sakaling, kami'y perwisyo;
Pasensya na kayo't kami'y namamasko!!
To the householder our greeting is:
"A Glorious Merry Christmas!"
Love, if it will reign,
[then] every day will be Christmas always!
Chorus:
The cause of coming here
is to ask for gifts.
If it is such that we're a bother,
Do be patient since we're soliciting for Christmas!
More recently, caroling has become a fund-raising activity. Church choirs or youth groups spend weeks rehearsing Christmas carols then draw up a schedule of visits to wealthy patrons in their homes or even corporate offices (often coinciding with the office Christmas party). These are, in effect, mini Christmas concerts, with excellent performances amply rewarded with an envelope of cash or checks. The choirs then use the funds for goodwill projects. Unlike the traditional children's caroling, the singers do not partake of the earnings, but rather donate their share to the group's projects.

Aguinaldo

This is a word heard repeatedly during the Christmas Season in the Philippines. Presently, the term is interpreted as gift or money received from benefactors. Aguinaldo is a Spanish term for bonus.[7] Its prevalent use may have originated from Filipino workers of the Spanish era, receiving extra pay from the generosity of the rich employers during the celebration of the Christmas season.

The popular OPM Christmas carols and songs are:

Christmas In Our Hearts by Jose Mari Chan
Perfect Christmas by Jose Mari Chan
Himig ng Pasko by APO Hiking Society
Kampana ng Simbahan by Leo Valdez
Kumukutikutitap by Ryan Cayabyab
Magkasama Tayo Sa Kwento Ng Pasko by ABS-CBN
Mano Po Ninong, Mano Po Ninang
Miss Kita Kung Christmas by Sharon Cuneta
Noche Buena by Marco Sison
Ang Pasko ay Sumapit Traditional
Pasko Na Naman (Traditional)
Pasko Na Sinta Ko by Gary Valenciano
Pasko sa Pinas by Yeng Constantino
Sa Araw ng Pasko by OPM Various Artists
Sa Pagsapit ng Pasko by OPM Various Artists
Sa Pasko by Daniel Magtira
Sa Paskong Darating by Celeste Legaspi
Sana Ngayong Pasko by Ariel Rivera
Sino si Santa Klaws? by Florante
Star ng Pasko by ABS-CBN
Thank You Ang Babait Ninyo by The Voice Kids Top 4
Tuloy Na Tuloy Pa Rin ang Pasko by APO Hiking Society


PHILSTAR

ALSO: Filipino's poor childhood inspires 500K-light Christmas show By Aaron Favila (Associated Press) | Updated December 7, 2015 - 12:08pm 2 348 googleplus0 0


In this Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015 photo, a Filipino boy walks beside Christmas decorations outside a house in Cainta, Rizal province, east of Manila, Philippines. The house is drawing huge crowds, especially during weekends, with visitors using the bright lights and festive Christmas decors as their backdrop for selfies with families and friends. AP/Aaron Favila

CAINTA, Philippines — As a child from a poor family, Alexander Cruz marveled at the big houses adorned with Christmas lights near his Philippine neighborhood, but the gates were always closed.

Now a successful businessman with a huge house in a hilly town south of Manila, Cruz celebrates Christmas in even more spectacular style.

About half a million colorful lights cover every inch of his home: the roof, ceiling, walls, fence, doors, canopies, windows and even the trees. And he and his wife open the gates to everyone.

"We're doing this to share our blessings, to give or share the spirit of Christmas to the people who visited our place," the 55-year-old Cruz said in an interview.

His home in Cainta has dazzled people far beyond the quiet town of around 290,000 people. TV networks have documented his holiday wonderland, which has become the backdrop for countless selfies and sees up to 1,000 visitors per day.

"It brings back childhood feelings of Christmas, like in the movies, that you see big houses with big lights," said Ella Cosme, a 34-year-old software programmer. "You feel like a child."

The lighting is designed by Cruz's wife, Aida, and preparations for the display start as early as August. Alexander Cruz estimated that they used 5,000 boxes of LED lights, with each box containing a hundred bulbs.

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The Christmas lighting extravaganza is crowned by four brightly lit Christmas trees atop the roof. Inside the house and within its gardens are Nativity scenes, a centerpiece in many homes in the Philippines. The country is a bastion of Christianity in Asia, and many Filipinos prepare for Christmas by going to Mass before dawn every day for nine days before Dec. 25.

The Cruzes have gone all-out for Christmas for the past five years. Alexander Cruz said this year might be the last, since his neighbors are inconvenienced by the crowds. But with many residents and visitors urging him to carry on the tradition, he said he may reconsider.

"We're embarrassed that the subdivision is losing its privacy because of the number of people coming to see the house," Cruz said, but he added some of his neighbors may have gotten used to the upbeat holiday crowds that reach 500-1,000 people daily on weekends.

"They were the ones who said not to stop it, especially our mayor, who said there has been a good effect," Cruz said. "At least there is good news in Cainta."


MANILA BULLETIN

ALSO: Pope Francis opens the door to Catholic Jubilee by AFP December 8, 2015 (updated) Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share14


Pilgrims attend a papal mass in St Peter’s square for the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, on December 8, 2015 in Vatican. Pope Francis marks the start of an extraordinary Jubilee year for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics by opening a “Holy Door” in the walls of St Peter’s basilica. At 9.30 am (0830 GMT), the Argentinian pontiff will pronounce the words “Aperite mihi Porta Iustitiae” — Latin for “open to me the gates of justice” — and the door, which is normally bricked up, will be opened. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO by Angus MACKINNON

Vatican City, Holy See | AFP – Tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims assembled in Rome Tuesday to watch Pope Francis open a “Holy Door” in the walls of St Peter’s basilica at the start of an extraordinary Jubilee year.

After a mass on St Peter’s square, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics was to pronounce the words “Aperite mihi Porta Iustitiae” — Latin for “open to me the gates of justice” — and the door, which is normally bricked up, opened.

The first pilgrims had been in the square since before dawn in search of a prime spot to watch the latest enactment of a 700-year-old tradition laden with religious symbolism.

An estimated 50,000 people, including hundreds of cardinals, bishops and members of religious orders, attended an event subject to unprecedented security measures in the wake of recent terrorist attacks around the world.

As Francis initiated the mass, many of the pilgrims had tears running down their cheeks, others listened in silent contemplation or private prayer.

Images of the ceremony were beamed live around the world.

In Catholic tradition, the opening of “Holy Doors” in Rome symbolises an invitation from the Church to believers to enter into a renewed relationship with God.

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Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI, who has lived in seclusion within the Vatican since retiring in 2013 because of failing health, has accepted an invitation to attend Tuesday’s ceremony.

It will be a rare public outing for the German ex-pontiff, now aged 88 and said to be extremely frail. His last one was for the canonisation of former popes John Paul II and John XXIII in April 2014.

Tuesday evening will see images by some of the world’s greatest environmental photographers projected onto the facade of Saint Peter’s in an initiative linked to the ongoing global climate conference in Paris.

- Mercy, mercy me -

The Jubilee, which runs until November 20, 2016, was called by the pontiff with the express goal of allowing the Church to “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy”.

The pontiff has made the idea of mercy the dominant theme of his papacy, insisting that it is not simply an abstract concept.

In a surprise move, he announced in September that for the duration of the Jubilee, priests would be given special dispensation to absolve women who have had abortions.

Some 800 priests around the world are to be designated “missionaries of mercy” tasked with encouraging higher levels of confession amongst believers. Those involved have been selected for their ability to preach well, understand human frailty and ensure the confessional is not experienced “like a torture chamber” as Francis himself put it.

Behind all this lies Francis’s mission to make the Church seem less judgemental and more understanding, at times in the teeth of fierce resistance from traditionalists opposed to any relaxation of teaching on hot-button subjects such as homosexuality, divorce and unmarried cohabitation.

Traditionally, Catholics were expected to make a pilgrimage to Rome to benefit from the indulgences on offer to the faithful who pass through the Holy Doors during Jubilee years.

Francis has effectively done away with this custom by ordering cathedrals around the world to open their own Holy Doors. That will happen on Sunday, when Francis himself opens the door at one of Rome’s major churches, St John Lateran.

With millions of pilgrims packing the already-crowded streets of Rome, concerns over the consequences of potential attacks are running high with security forces placed on high alert for the duration of the Jubilee.

“There has been no specific threat but the context is troubling,” said Rome Prefect Franco Gabrielli, the official in charge of ensuring the Jubilee passes off smoothly and safely.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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