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Christmas Season has Started in Davao

If you are not in the Philippines, you will ask what I am talking about. It is only early October and in America you are just starting to plan for Halloween. Then there comes Thanksgiving and then finally Christmas.

In the Philippines September starts the Ber season. That is because the all the month’s end in Ber and that is what marks the coming Holiday season of Christmas. The stores are already displaying and selling Christmas decorations and you will hear the holiday music.

Soon the houses will be lit up with Christmas lights, Christmas trees will be set up and their decorations will be everywhere. But this is not the only signs of the upcoming holiday season.

There is something else that becomes noticeable that the holiday system is coming and that is the increased presence of the Lumad beggars. Lumad is the Cebuano or Bisaya word for the indigenous peoples of the southern Philippines. There is always a presence of these people, but the amount magnifies this time of year. Many of these people live in the mountains and highlands of Mindanao. During the holiday season many come into Davao by busses and trucks.

These people, the most noticeable are the females. They are in long loose skirts and T-shirts, darker completion and by all places there is a business or shopping. Many carry young children or babies in their arms and come up to you, tap you on the arm if you are not looking towards them and then put their hand out or they are carrying a plastic cup. They will motion to their mouths to say “I am hungry” or some know the word hungry. They will be at intersections and go from ca to car, tapping on the window and then motioning to their mouths or put their hand out. Some small boys will tape a few metal cans together and come up to your car and play the cans like Bongos and then put their hands out.

If you try to ignore them, many will continue to tap on your car window or your arm. No matter if you shake your head no, or say no or “wala kwarta” which means “no Money” many will continue to stand there.

It is especially bad when they see a foreigner; our lighter skin is like a beacon on a dark night. They will ignore all others and come up to you and start the routine. Many have no shame and will walk around with a baby in their arms, with their blouse raised and breast feeding the babies.

I can understand the poverty here in the Philippines and the lack of government support for the poor and unemployed, but this bussing in of the Lumad for the Christmas season to beg, and then bring them back to the mountains for the rest of the year has to be hard on these people and also on the City. The sidewalks and markets get full and so many in the streets with the heavy traffic makes a difficult situation and a danger for all.

6 Responses to “Christmas Season has Started in Davao”

  1. Ken Harmes says:

    Hi Bruce.Yes,I agree it is not an ideal situation for any of us,especially for the people who have to do the begging, but,this is the place we now choose as home and there is very little we can do in the short term to change things for the better.
    On a lighter note. We have had lights(no pun intended)flashing now for about a month? I must say they look nice.

    • Bruce says:

      Ken,
      I write to explain life here. I know we cannot change the way things are. Even Filipinos cannot change it unless they stand together in a group and let their feelings known.
      Maybe we will see your lights and decorations at your Christmas party.

  2. Gene says:

    Bruce,

    I guess we’re lucky here then. No beggars hitting the pavement as yet. I love the Christmas season; always have.
    Even here in the Philippines with the extra long Christmas season it’s great.

    Only one thing that bothers me though. It’s the kids that go caroling each year. To go Christmas caroling is supposed to be to spread Christmas cheer and have fun at the same time.
    Here, they have managed to twist it into a money making event. Knocking on your gate and expect to BE PAID for their singing! I’m no Scrooge but most of the ones that come by here—I’m temped to pay them to STOP SINGING!!!

    Anyway, that’s my two cents worth before I get carried away. Hahaha.

    Merry Christmas to all…

    • Bruce says:

      Gene,
      We have had only a few by the house. What I did see is more on the streets at intersections and around town.
      When we lived at our last place, I would see neighbor kids doing the singing to pick up pocket change and also the beggars.

  3. Evelyn says:

    shall i say—- xmas only in the philippines????hahaha
    here at my workplace, i start putting up the tree on dec 1..after the thanksgiving preparation…
    houses here during the whole month of november will be decorated with halloween decors..
    and children done in costumes will go house to house for tricks or treats..we buy bunch of candies for them…

    • Bruce says:

      Evelyn,
      I see more about Halloween here, their is a spot in the mall selling costumes. But, Christmas is already strong here.

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