While the Christmas season started seemingly many weeks ago here in the Philippines, the spirited activity of caroling begins in the middle part of December and will continue until Christmas. Once the Dawn Mass known as “Misa de Gallo” or “Simbang Gabi “ starts, carolers will head out in groups, going house to house spreading the spirit of the season through there holiday songs. For us here in our village of Tomaligues, and like in many other villages, it began yesterday (Dec 16th) and will continue every night until Christmas. Children will form groups and sing the likes of singing Jingle Bells, Silent Night and other traditional Filipino Christmas songs like Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit, Pasko Na Naman, at Namamasko.
From what I’ve experienced already with the younger children, it’s mostly a half accurate version of Jingle Bells with the “one horse open sleigh” portion of the lyrics totally sung in indisguinshable fashion (because they really don’t know the lyrics), and in it’s own way, is fun to watch their attempts at singing something they really don’t understand the words or meaning to. Silent Night is mostly done correctly, and I have no clue as to the accuracy of the more traditional Filipino songs.
The caroling season begins early enough with the children, and within the course of the next few days, everyone including church organizations, clubs, or group of friends, sing to raise funds through their yearly caroling. Some of these groups will give you a letter in advance, informing you in advance of the date and time they will come caroling at your house with an attached envelope for you to place your donation in.
It’s enjoyable to watch the children as they usually have handmade musical instruments like tambourine, made from bottle tops, cans or biscuit tins used as drums. One group of kids this evening were drumming on large empty soda bottles. They will be happy if you give them a coin, and if your feeling generous a couple pesos or more will inspire them to sing another song for you. Just before Christmas, the children will eventually be overshadowed by the more talented and better equipped strolling minstrels. It all wraps up with a short melody sung to thank you for your generosity… “Thank you, thank you, ang babait ninyo …thank you….”