Christmas Caroling

My family lived in the Philippines until I was eleven years old. We lived in Baguio City, the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

I have vivid memories of caroling with my family and friends. At the time, the excitement overwhelmed my senses because caroling happened in the evenings, when the air was crisp and chilly and the sky lit up with countless stars. I wasn’t aware then that being able to look up and see so many stars was a gift. Light pollution was scarce; maybe that term didn’t even exist yet.

We would go caroling from house-to-house, accompanied by a guitarist, a couple of tambourine players, and the occasional clapping.

(Tagalog)
Ang Pasko ay sumapit

Tayo ay mangagsi-awit
Ng magagandang himig
Dahil sa ang Diyos ay pag-ibig.
Nang si Kristo’y isilang
May tatlong haring nagsidalaw
At ang bawa’t isa ay nagsipaghandog
Ng tanging alay.

Bagong Taon ay magbagong-buhay
Nang lumigaya ang ating bayan
Tayo’y magsikap upang makamtan
Natin ang kasaganahan.

Tayo’y mangagsi-awit
Habang ang mundo’y tahimik
Ang araw ay sumapit
Ng sanggol na dulot ng langit

Tayo ay magmahalan
Ating sundin ang gintong aral
At magbuhat ngayon
Kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan!

(English)
Christmas has arrived

Let us all sing
Beautiful melodies
For in God is love.
When Christ was born
Three kings came to visit
And each of them presented
Unique gifts.

Start a new life at the new year
To bring joy to our people
Let’s strive in order to achieve
prosperity for us all.

Let us all sing
While the Earth is quiet
The day has arrived
Of the infant given by heaven

Let us all love one another
Let’s follow the golden rule
And from now on
Even when it’s not Christmas, let’s share!

This was the song that I remember most. I think I remember it most because my brother and I use to sing the first two lines this way;

And pasko ay sumaaaa pit pit pit!
Tayo ay mangagsi-awit wit wit!

The families, whose homes we were serenading, would usually come outside a minute after we started singing. And, after our last song, the two sides greeted each other with kind words, happiness, and smiles. Sometimes, we were given arroz caldo served in styrofoam bowls. For the road, ya know? Other times, we were given money!

Inversely, when groups caroled in front of our home, it was also a wonderful feeling. The energy in their voices, and the cheerfulness in their eyes were something to behold.

These memories come back to me each year around this time. I’m saddened that Christmas Caroling is not a big thing here in America.

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