A modern Filipino Christmas meal

December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I often wonder why eating ham and having a molded cheddar cheeze ball became a Christmas tradition. In the days of yonder, Filipinos’ standard of a good Chrismas meal includes these two things–hamon and keso. For Americans, a big turkey is the norm. For others, just a simple spaghetti meal with lots of meat are standard holiday fare.

I went to the grocery to see if I can still afford myself a ham and keso de bola. A Swift ham (1 kg) cost roughly 500-600 pesos while keso de bola costs the same thing. So, if I want to have a great xmas meal, that would cost me more than a thousand pesos.

Of course, my table would not be glamourous enough without the macaroni salad, the fruit salad, the spaghetti, maybe roasted chicken and some tomato-based dish. All in all, that would probably cost around 3,000 pesos.

For a guy who earns more than 60,000 a month, 3,000 pesos is something very affordable. However, for most of our fellow Filipinos, a 3,000 peso Christmas meal is something quite fabulous if not, aspirational?

Prices of traditional holiday fare have sky-rocketed since, err, several years ago. Hamon and keso de bola have slowly and surely been replaced by an Andok’s lechon manok or probably a bigger sized sardine can. Just a regular keso will do for most, while you can still experience hamon by simply buying a regular ham, all for 50 pesos.

Life has been extremely hard for most Filipinos. Personal luxuries have all been abandoned.

But, what Filipinos have not abandoned is their faith in God.

The poorer Filipinos become, the more faithful they are in their God. And this, for all the hamons and keso de bolas, cannot be replaced by anything.


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