4 Pinoy Christmas traditions (that have to go)

Noche Buena, midnight masses, drunken fathers hurling invectives at scared children. Nobody does Christmas quite like Filipinos. We’ve elevated the annual celebration of Christ’s birth into an art form. There are, however, some things that Christmas 2010 could do without. They bring nothing to the table, after all, and all too often take something away.

The Metro Manila Film Fest

Envisioned both as an avenue for original Filipino movies to get their share of box office returns, and as a way to raise money for the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Metro Manila Film Fest bans foreign films from local cinemas.

In their place, we have quality Filipino masterpieces like Dolphy and Willie Revillame’s Nobody but Juan, which, judging from the trailer, is about a senior citizen struggling with senility and whose last tenuous connection with reality is through Wowowee! on TFC. When the nursing home he lives in bans Wowowee! after Dolphy and his fellow senior citizens form a naked conga line because the show told them to, hilarity ensues. One hopes.

The MMFF also features movies that are traditions in themselves. Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr’s Panday, for example, which people will flock to watch to see if it will be in any way different from the 7 million other Panday films he has made.

It's the same film.

And then there’s Shake, Rattle & Roll 11, the latest in the Shake, Rattle & Roll series. This newest movie has the potential to actually be scary, though, but only because Ruffa Guttierez is in it.

Zombie Christmas Carol Armies

Few things can warm the cockles of your heart quite like Christmas carols sung in chorus by adorable children. Few things can chill it quite like having a platoon of children mouthing carols haphazardly and without any real effort. Most of the time, they rush through the choruses of the requisite three songs before asking for your cash, their “namamasko po (Give us your money)” blending into the medley like a sad, sad mash up.

I remember...the child...in the manger as he sleeps...

And the worst part is once you give one roving band of carolers some change, you’ll have to deal with all the other gangs of the zombie army until daybreak.

Good luck!

Lazy Children Asking For Change

While zombie carolers at least try to pretend to earn your Christmas money, hundreds, maybe thousands, of other despondent waifs have decided to cut to the chase and demand for your spare change outright.

Armed with nothing but sheer numbers and the ability to make you feel guilty that you work for a living to support your family, they roam Manila’s crowded streets and parking lots for alms.

When appeals to your sympathy don’t work, mobbing usually does. After all, with ten kids hammering at your car windows, it’s really easy to tell the Scrooge in you to shut up and just give them the money. Or anything they want, really.

While this tradition may seem like a perfect argument for the Reproductive Health bill, the problem doesn’t seem to be an oversupply of children, but a shortage of parents.

Picky Cab Driver Choose-athon

Cab drivers, even on regular days, are a menace to society. Even those who aren’t uncouth, undisciplined, or unscrupulous could turn out to be over-zealous preachers, rabid anti-government mouthpieces, or rapists.

Come Christmas time,though, their human consciences often go into hibernation, refusing passengers who don’t agree to pay the cabbies extra to brave the city traffic they help create.

We’re not talking about a 10-peso tip, either. “Contracts” or negotiated fares could cost as much as three times what you’d normally pay, but it’s still better than walking home from the mall with your packages especially with ruffians roving about distributing Christmas cheer.

Lesser evil, but evil nonetheless

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