Home for the Holidays

Posted January 18, 2020 from Philippines
The Color of Christmas

Ten months after my recovery from an injury in 2018, I accepted a job to support the refugee crisis in Uganda. By mid-November, 2018, I found myself changing continent once again, and psyching myself to live up north, west of the Nile river. 

Uganda like the Philippines, is mostly Catholic. They have the same faith practice like us, though we are more into the fanfare, colors, and traditions. Theirs from my experience, is mostly tradition, and loud music.

When December came, instead of me planning to take my holidays outside of my new country, I decided to spend it with the locals. Thinking that since it’s with a family, I’ll get to experience “holidays a la Uganda.” Of course, I had a bias coming from the Philippines where Christmas season begins the moment the months' last syllables end in “ber.” 

It was not the same. Instead, I get to live and experience, central Uganda way of life, especially on food and experience my good friends family’s faith practice without the fun-fare, lights, and colors I am used in my country. 

That’s why when I was asked to stay for another year, one of my conditions was to be allowed to travel home and spend my collected leave in my home country. 


As always, the Philippines did not disappoint. 

I arrived with music and decorations fitting to my expectations. The airport was alive with live music from a chorale while families and friends eagerly awiting their love ones. 

At my home, the motif was blue and silver with LED fairy lights. My dad’s little yellow house is like always on fire when the tree is lighted. Food of course was what I missed - the traditional rice cakes and the pork dishes I was only imagining back in Uganda. 

Meeting friends was inevitable, and it is still fun catching up on what has happened since we last met, also going back to our kindergarten life. 

I got sick of course. The change in the weather and long travel made me weak after Christmas, so New Year was a little subdued, but still, nothing beats an hour of fireworks display before I return to a slower welcome to 2020. When I welcomed 2019, I was in bed before midnight, and we don’t have the big table of food and pastries that is served to welcome the year, and I was not part of our family’s welcome photo. But this year, our yellow motif was punctuated by me wearing my yellow and black Ketenga cloth wrap dress. 


As I continue to enjoy my seven weeks break, the Taal volcano, which is 50 kilometers away from where my dad live, erupted. One moment, were still planning to do a road trip, next thing I knew all places we planned to visit is covered in ash. 

The momentum change. I cannot be idle while on holidays. I was avoiding to work, but I cannot let my friends down. I helped in any way I can. 

Two days after it erupted, I had my eye surgery. A very minor operation but very sensitive. It prevented me from going to ash laden provinces and be at the forefront. Instead, I used my connections, to help mobilize support to the most vulnerable people in times like this - the people with disabilities, and the elderly. Pretty much the same as what I am doing in Uganda.

I am glad I have friends, that are present on the ground and providing specific support to the people with disabilities in the evacaution centers. And those, making sure funds received are provided to those that needed them the most. 

In the end, my holidays turning out to be very enriching. I don’t celebrate the hardship people have now because of the Taal volcano erupting. I celebrate the people that heed the call for help and the Batangueno affected for trying to help each other out. 

I celebrate those behind the scenes, helping in any way they can to support the efforts on the ground. 

I have a couple of weeks left before I go back to Uganda, but before I do that, I will celebrate my birth month through our yearly feeding program. Isang Bata Isang Tasa (One Child One Cup) started 13 years ago, as a way to thank God for a new year by sharing my blessing to the children in my community. 

We give special attention to children under five and children with disabilities to encourage them to live healthier. We also educate their caregivers - mother, father, sisters, grandmother etc. on how to continue to live a healthy lifestyle, in body and mind. 

Once done,  I will plan now for the 14th year, looking for sponsors and additional activities to make sure that we bring this service beyond my village and help more kids appreciate growing up healthy and clean all the time. 

Until the next celebration!

Comments 13

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Jan 19, 2020
Jan 19, 2020

Welcome back to the Philippines and have a safe travel back to Uganda.

This is amazing talaga when you arrived at the airport.... there is a welcome choir singing Christmas songs :) very unique, only in the Philippines :)

Thank you for the updates. May you have a complete healing. We hope you can join us also sa World Pulse Philippines facebook group to connect with you.

Be safe!

Jan 19, 2020
Jan 19, 2020

Dear Colasas,
It looks like you had an amazing stay in Uganda, amazing. We welcome you back from your journey and also back in world pulse, we missed you too much.

Now I will look much forward to reading your subsequent posts. We also glad of your recovery. Please continue to take care of yourself, we need you here ha :-).

Mar 07, 2020
Mar 07, 2020

Thank you Lizzy for the message.
Back to work now and the holiday seems forgotten with all the catching up needed to do.
Hope all is good up your end in Ghana.
i wish you Happy Women’s Day!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Jan 19, 2020
Jan 19, 2020

Hello, Coolasas!

Welcome back to World Pulse and to the Philippines! Oh, I hope you can meet some World Pulse from the Philippines while you are here. We have been collaborating for meetups.

I'm so glad you are enjoying your stay here. Iba talaga pag nasa sariling bayan. Thank you for helping the Taal Victims. I hope you heal from your minor eye surgery. Please join us in our World Pulse Philippines Facebook group.

Have a great day!

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Jan 20, 2020
Jan 20, 2020

Hi Cool,
It's nice to hear you were in Uganda. It would be lovely for us to meet when you come back. Please inbox when you next come back.
Otherwise thanks for your post and hope to hear more about your work and your experience.
Have a lovely day

Feb 04, 2020
Feb 04, 2020

Hello Anita,
I’ll be happy to meet over coffee. I am in Kampala until the 17th ☺️ will message you my number


Anita Shrestha
Jan 20, 2020
Jan 20, 2020

Thank you for sharing

Jan 20, 2020
Jan 20, 2020

Hi dear welcome back and thank you for helping people need. And where you are right now I hope you find support to do more. I believe there sisters there to join hands with you.

Jan 21, 2020
Jan 21, 2020

Thank you for sharing about your journey. We all are places in places & situations because that's where we are meant to be in the moment. Your travels experiences sound amazing. I wish you all the best in helping the kids lead a healthier and happier life.

Marie Abanga
Jan 23, 2020
Jan 23, 2020

Dear sis,

So cool to read all your expeirences. Here is to wishing you all the best with your project.
I know you would keep us updated so we too get inspired and stay motivated.

Here is to more celebrations
Light and love

Jan 29, 2020
Jan 29, 2020

Hi Coolasas,
Thank you for sharing your story.
It's really nice to celebrate Christmas in Philippines and that's celebration i really miss so much. Hope you will continue healing sis. Hope you doing fine.

Have a nice day dear

Metiege Noel Eve
Feb 02, 2020
Feb 02, 2020

Home is about where we feel loved and welcome and family is no longer about blood but about people who make us feel wanted dear.

Sinyuy Geraldine
Feb 08, 2020
Feb 08, 2020

Dear Coolasas, what a wonderful write up. My face glowed from the moment I read that you ere in Uganda and the experience and expectations of Christmas were far different from what you would have had in the Philippines. Yes, these are far two different cultures. but you still learned out of the differences. and you made a right choice by returning home for Xmas 2019. It is always so warm to be with family. I can imagine the joy your family shares together at Xmas and new year.