In the Philippines, Christmas starts in September when the interior of malls, cafés and restaurants suddenly enlightens. But because the loud music and Christmas sales are very commercial, I didn’t really get the Christmas feeling until I joined one of Virlanie’s Christmas parties with 150 kids in Bacolod, Brgy. 16 in December.
On the 24th, I joined our volunteers in Manila to distribute gifts in our 7 Virlanie Homes located in Makati. When you are abroad and far from your family, there’s surely no better way to spend Christmas than to be surrounded by Virlanie children! After the Home distribution, we stayed in Tanglaw Home where children from 7-12 years live and grow up with their house parents. This was a big highlight because I really felt the family feeling there, the whole Home environment, children and house parents are truly lovely.
For the 25th, our group of 4 Virlanie volunteers joined a hike to Mount Pinatubo, which Jonai from the travel group The WanderWalkers had organized for a group of 10. If I lived in Manila, I’d probably join their budget group trips regularly. You get to know interesting people from around the world and travel at the best rate you can get. Else, travelling to remote places like Mount Pinatubo can be quite expensive because you need to organize a van and pay guides that you share during this kind of group trips.
Mount Pinatubo is a volcano about 90 km from Manila in the Zambales mountain range. After lying dormant for almost 500 years, the volcano’s eruption in June 1991 resulted in one of the most destructive volcanic eruptions of the 20th century. Despite its destructive impact on the ozon layer, a drop in global temperature, 800 people were killed and thousands displaced. Today, the volcano is still active, but closely monitored. It’s a safe and beautiful place to visit.
My 2017 Christmas was definitely exceptional and unforgettable!