Devotees offer candles and prayers outside the walls of the St. Peter and Paul Church in Ormoc City before Christmas Eve

Ormoc News – Leyteños forego tradition in favor of practical Christmas celebration

ORMOC NEWS – Concerned about how they could address more realistic economic issues at home, more and more families from Leyte who are still staggering to recover from the overwhelming calamities that have visited this region are changing the way they celebrate Christmas.

“You will notice that all but a few houses here have decorated their homes and hung Christmas lights this year”, said resident Arsenio Oledan of Ormoc City, adding that many families have opted to save limited resources in order to rebuild their homes.

Oledan said that he and his family commemorated but did not celebrate Christmas last year after super typhoon Yolanda struck just weeks before Christmas day.

“We went to church and asked God for help but, most of all, we learned from that experience that a family can join Jesus Christ on his special day meaningfully even without the customary media noche”, he said. Oledan added that this year would be no different.

Ormoc News, Eastern Visayas News, Christmas celebrations
Muslim traders sell firecrackers at the city plaza near the Ormoc City Superdome

At the city park, Alex Haddji Mustafa, a Muslim trader from Marawi who sells firecrackers at a makeshift stall together with other sellers disclosed to the Visayan Business Post that sales have been very slow this year. “It seems that people have other things in mind this season”, he said, hoping that sales on his pyrotechnics will pick up before New Years’ eve.

Mustafa’s observation is shared by Edna Tan, a seasonal fruit seller along Rizal Avenue hoping to cash in on the Filipino and Chinese family tradition of having twelve different ‘round’ fruits on the dining table during Christmas and New Years’ eve, ostensibly to usher more abundance.

“Other than the fact that there are many trying to sell fruits around the city, Christmas shoppers are prioritizing more basic needs nowadays”, she said. “Fruits are at the end of their ‘wish list’. Electric and water bills come first”, Tan added.

Ormoc News, Eastern Visayas News, Christmas celebrations
A root crop seller awaiting buyers at the Ormoc City public market on Dec. 24

“It seems that the only people buying for Christmas are those that have received their bonuses”, said Victoria Mariblanca Dagohoy, a vegetable and root crops seller from the hinterlands of San Isidro, Leyte. Dagohoy who turned 75 last month said she will be spending Christmas Eve alone in a dark portion of the Ormoc City public market with what remains of her commodities. “I need to sell all of these tomorrow so that I can go home to my family in San Isidro. They will have nothing either until I arrive”, she said glumly.