We were lucky enough to convince my brother to come back to the Philippines for Christmas and New Years. It was wonderful to have him around again and he remains Mason’s favorite uncle. And he went back to Siquijor with us for Christmas and got to experience Coco Grove Resort. It was great to see family again, but our time in Siquijor was extended 3 extra days since a typhoon came through and we couldn’t leave the island! Ironically, this happened to us 2 years ago when we visited the same place with the same brother. The island just loves him too much to let him leave! However since we got stuck in Siquijor for 3 extra days, we missed our flight and reservations to Singapore for New Years. (but we were able to reschedule that trip for February)
In 2013 we missed the yearly festivals where our family in the Philippines live by a week. So, Matt really wanted to be sure to attend in 2014. However, I was about 35 weeks pregnant didn’t want to risk having a baby in the province. So Matt started contacting our brothers to see if anyone would be willing to come out to visit us and then go to Siquijor for the celebrations. One thing led to another and in the end we had 3 of my brothers and a sister-in-law coming out to see us! The boys stayed for 1 week since they had to return to school and work. My sister-in-law stayed for 11 days and we were able to have some girl pampering time together.
When I found out that I was going to California I made an agenda to be certain that I did everything that I wanted to. Once my siblings found out that the kids and I would be in California a couple of them made the trip out to see us from Utah. We were feeling very loved and special!
When we found out that we were going to live in the Philippines for a couple of years we wanted family and friends to come visit us. And our first guest was my brother (that our children call Rah Rah) who arrived December 3 and stayed with us until January 10. He got a first hand experience to figuring out how to live in the Philippines with us since we were still very new to living here. He was with us while we were living in our serviced apartments and then helped us move into our condo. Rah Rah has traveled with us through Europe and also done his own traveling with friends through Europe, but this was his first time in Asia and in a developing country. I think he enjoyed his time in Asia and we all LOVED having him visit us.
Christmas starts in September in the Philippines. They decorate all during the “BER” months (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER) and the decorations are pretty nice… it’s almost ridiculous how beautiful the Christmas decorations are when you remember that the Philippines is a developing country! And during the second week of January they start to take down the decorations. So, for a third of the year Christmas is “celebrated” in the Philippines with music and decorations!
There are over a million people who live in downtown Manila. During December that number increases as oversea workers return to the Philippines for the holidays. And then the number decreases as all of the Manila residents and oversea workers return home to their provinces for the holidays. We decided to go to “our province” as well for Christmas…that being Siquijor island where my grandfather left around 1925 to go work on a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii. However, he also left a wife and 2 children in Siquijor, whose descendants we recently made contact with.
We spent 5 days on the island with family. We rented a car and our cousin drove us around. There were no presents, no Christmas trees, not even cold weather. But, we all had a wonderful time enjoying the company of our family and seeing the beauty of the land. God must really love us to have blessed us with wonderful family members.
More Siquijor photos here.