Celebration – Cavite, Philippines

“ Pamasko”

Carolyn was born in the province of Cavite, within the municipality of Silang- located outside of Manila in the Philippines. She has lived in the Philippines for seventeen years and has spent only two years in the United States. She currently resides in Los Angeles. She speaks English and Tagalog fluently. Her parents are both from the aristocratic class of the Philippines nation.

On Christmas morning in Cavite, the upper-class citizens do not first enjoy the spectacular gifts that they have purchased for one another- instead they are busy standing at their doorstep greeting those of the lower working class who have come to visit. The lower class peoples traditionally will venture on Christmas morning to the houses of the upper class where they will receive what is referred to in Tagalog as a “pamasko”. In English, this would mean the equivalent of a small Christmas offering or gift. The upper-class families will wait at their doorstep and offer small gifts of money to the peasants as they arrive at the house. While the parents are receiving money from the house owners, the lower-class children participate in a variety of games that are prepared for them in the house courtyard. Such games include a traditional egg and spoon race. Usually the wealthy families will give a twenty-peso bill to children who visit their homes and a fifty- peso bill to adults.

Carolyn says that she has always practiced this tradition throughout her life. Her parents say that their parents also participated in the pamasko tradition. According to Carolyn, the upper class peoples give these gifts to the lower class in a spirit of generosity- something that is highly valued in her culture.

The practice of giving a pamasko to the lower classes on Christmas morning seems to be a physical representation of the practices and attitudes valued by the citizens of Cavite. It is apparent that generosity and helping those who are less fortunate are two values that are highly considered by Cavite citizens.