It has been a rough year, and the main threat which changed the world is the COVID-19 pandemic. We easily grasped the fact that we have to turn to everything online just to avoid spreading the disease when people go out in the open, but it has not been easy to adjust. Most especially when the Christmas season is fast approaching, the question hangs on how will Filipinos (particularly) will be able to celebrate it?

Filipinos are known for their festive disposition and close family ties. That means gatherings and parties are always being held on occasions such as Christmas or New Year, but what if the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic is still present? Here are 5 ways in which technology was harnessed to continue the tradition.

Making use of video calls to host ‘online Christmas parties’


It is amazing to note that Filipinos can be a very creative bunch of people. The term ‘mataba ang utak’ came not only from jokes and puns, but from life hacks which also shows how a Filipino could thrive in any given situation through his ingenuity.

This is very true as even the generation of today found a way to connect with friends, classmates, co-workers, family members by hosting online Christmas parties. This is being done through familiar platforms such as Skype, Zoom, or even just on Messenger.

With the challenges and discoveries brought on by online classes most especially, it is only expected that these would be enough time for people out there to utilise these platforms’ features and transform it in a holiday setting. Although it is clearly not as fun as actually gathering in your lola’s place with the rest of the family, at least seeing each other’s smiling faces is comfort enough that they’re safe and healthy.

Utilizing online banks and couriers to continue the gift giving tradition


Gift giving isn’t only a tradition here in the Philippines, but of the whole world. Even when you’re no longer a kid waiting for his new toy come Christmas Day (or Eve), you still look forward to the annual munito-munita.

Perhaps it is because no matter how small the gift is, the fact that there was an effort to remember you on Christmas is enough. So, how can this be carried out amidst the pandemic when social gatherings are not allowed, and you need to set appointments to meet up with someone else?

Easy: make use of online banks and other means of sending money like GCash or Paypal for those who plan to send out monetary gifts, or book a courier such as Grab or Lalamove to send out gifts. This was already being done even before the pandemic came to the Philippines, but it became as natural these days. The next time you see your Facebook friend posting his GCash account, remember that this is indeed the new way asking and/or sharing Christmas blessings in the new normal setting.

Taking as much photos and videos to share online is contagious of happiness


Again, picture taking in the Philippines is not new. In fact, Filipinos take photos almost every day, anywhere just to make memories of what happens daily in their lives. But this year, particularly, online photos actually means so much because it shows that families are still intact and celebrating the season together—making it almost to the New Year despite each one’s rough year.

When family photos tend to be a common sight every day on social media, it becomes even more meaningful to see that your friends’ families and your own are coming through the challenges the year has brought. We’ve definitely had our share of personal demons we always fend off, but the external goings-on 2020 brought did add up to the stress.

To be able to smile—albeit, captured through smartphones—is still contagious especially for Filipinos who may have undergone loss or troubles within the family during this pressuring year. Filipinos are known to be able to smile despite the tribulations, and one smile can go a long way.

Streaming applications and free movies for movie-night holidays


One tradition in our contemporary times is to go to the cinemas and watch newly-released films especially when the local film festival announces their flicks. But one of the most affected entertainments this year is exactly that: cinemas have become empty, or at least viewers are limited. Gladly, today brings us an era of streaming websites and/or applications such as Netflix, iFlix, or even free movies on YouTube to continue the beloved tradition of film-going.

Netflix does have a Watch Party extension so you can watch with friends and family even when you are far apart. Plus, the lively discussion on social media on up-and-coming movies or series continues to flourish. This just shows how any form of entertainment—from watching movies, to reading books, to playing games—can now be done through the help of technology.

Vlogging/Blogging to document memories and share the celebration


For most youth, 2020 became a year when blogging and vlogging (video blog), most especially, became some sort of ‘part-time thing’ both for entertainment purposes (while passing the boring days at home), and for documenting their daily goings-on in life. It proved to be contagious as well as it seems even adults (parents in particular) got into these ‘vlogging’ activities to the point it also became a source of information for what is happening in different areas of the country.

By doing so, it sort of becomes a diary as well as to how Filipinos were able to find a way to celebrate the holidays in their own way. It also becomes a source for inspiration on how to proceed with the celebration—such as step-by-step cooking procedures on YouTube or DIY gifts and decorations; online video blogging and writing became not only a form of entertainment (or release), but also a guide, an educational sharing, as well as a medium to let loose the creative juices no matter the age.

Truly, this year brought us trials and hardships, but it also tested our patience, our creativity, and our strength—mentally and spiritually, in particular. Still, to be able to push through these challenges with technology by our side is truly a feat we should be thankful for, and to give one another (and ourselves) a pat on the shoulder.

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