Happy New Year from Bicol!


Photo courtesy of The Old Laundry Theater


New Year in our family is usually a merry occasion, celebrated by getting together  with our whole extended clan. While Christmas is usually peaceful and quiet for me, celebrated with my mom’s small family in Pandan (grandparents, two uncles, an aunt, and a cousin), New Year is typically noisy with my dad’s extended family in Albay—countless numbers of cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as nephews and nieces.

Family Reunions: Revisiting the Past and Looking Forward to the Future


New Year is the only time of the year when our extended family gather together—eating and drinking, trading gifts and stories, and the children making noise (by lighting firecrackers, playing plastic trumpets, and banging and clanking makeshift materials to create sound—sometimes using even pots and pans from the kitchen!).

Sometimes we would come up with a short program with games for adults and children. One time, our teens did some cross-dressing and gave a hilarious performance. Another time, we played cards and each time someone loses, the rest of us would apply charcoal on his face. Fun times!

Our New Year gathering is one of our most awaited celebrations. Each family takes time to prepare food for potluck sharing, and we prepare list of everyone in the family (around 80 members) for monito-monita (exchange gifts) long before the celebration. Once the lost is prepared, the boys would visit each house to ask the members to draw names randomly, and then the exchange of gifts would happen on New Year’s eve.

Over the years, our New Year gathering has changed in only a few ways. Despite new additions to the family because of marriages and kids, or missing family members because of death and others being called away on business during New Year, our celebrations changed little. It’s still the same noisy and merry celebration that it has always been, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Feng Shui and Other New Year Traditions

firecrackersTwelve (12) types of round fruits—they say this is one secret to attracting luck during New Year, and my mother’s family is somewhat of a believer. My grandmother and my aunt would often go shopping for round fruits before New Year, although we often settle for fewer than 12 types because it’s not easy finding a dozen types of round fruits around here.

My aunt is also into Feng Shui. She has all these different types of crystals and lucky stones and charms, and she often collects reading materials on New Year forecasts, predictions, and horoscopes as the New Year approaches. The materials contain all sorts of articles about topics such as how to attract more wealth in the coming year, how to improve relationships, how to be happy, lucky numbers and colors and other stuff.

I usually enjoy reading all these materials, and I have to admit I tried some of the tips I read in the past. How about you? Do you or your family have a set of beliefs that you follow or practice during New Year?

Of New Year’s Resolutions and Starting Anew

This is perhaps one of my favorite things about New Year—it’s an opportunity to start fresh. To leave the sins and sorrows of the past and to move forward with renewed hope.


I’m a big fan of organizers, planners, and journals, and nothing beats the joy I get from filling a blank page with plans during New Year. I usually allot a significant amount of my free time during the holiday break to planning ahead. And armed with a good pen and my precious planner, I would diligently write down details. It’s my own kind of heavenly experience.

These days, I no longer have New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I have plans—for the year, broken down into months, and then days (at least the month of January). And right now, I already have my 2017 planner–and I can’t wait to start writing! 🙂

Happy New Year, friends! And may 2017 shower us with more blessings!


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