Wednesday, December 15

Christmas Migration: The Filipino Phenomenon

the travelling of long distances in search of a new habitat. The trigger for the migration may be local climate, local availability of food, or the season of the year. To be counted as a true migration, and not just a local dispersal or irruption, the movement of the animals should be an annual or seasonal occurrence, such as birds migrating south for the winter, or a major habitat change as part of their life cycle, such as young Atlantic salmon leaving the river of their birth when they have reached a few inches in size.

Seasonal non-agricultural migration

Some researchers suggest that snowbirds — Canadian and U.S. citizens who move to warmer climates during the winter — exhibit patterns of seasonal migration. Although these people are not moving for agricultural reasons, they do move with the seasons. For example, many residents of Ontario, Canada move to Florida, USA during the winter. The practice actually dates back to colonial times, when Bostonians of means would often go (by sea) to Charleston or Savannah for winter. Later, the wealthy in the growing country maintained several seasonal residences and shifted residence with the seasons to avail themselves of the best time to be at each location, naming the time to "be" there, "the season". In British India, Ceylon and Malaya the cooler hill stations became the place of residence for Europeans during the hot summers, and Simla became the summer capital of the British Raj.


Someone should add: In Southeast Asia, an annual wave of Filipinos go home for the Christmas season. Filipinos working in different countries start migrating to their homeland early December, some even as early as late November, to celebrate Christmas with their families.


What is it about December? I think we've been bewitched by our homeland, or perhaps our blood has seeped so much into our soil, that Filipinos can feel the literal pull of the Philippines when Christmas lights start appearing in houses and Christmas carols start playing on the radio. Some internal mechanism starts whispering: go home, go home, go home.


And the whole universe connives to strengthen the pull: you walk in a grocery store and hear strangers discussing in Tagalog and for a moment you're transported to SM Hypermart; your taste buds start longing for flavors it cannot describe and you start envisioning your mother's dining table laden with ordinary home-cooked food; your son's favorite cartoon character has a meet & greet in a mall near your home in the Philippines; friends start to disappear one by one as they, like the migratory birds, fly home.


I'm biding my time. Learning patience as I get ready for my turn. Reveling in this time of anticipation.


I'm going home. After two years of withstanding the pull of my homeland when the Decembers descended on the world, I am finally going to immerse myself again in the beauty of the Filipino Christmas. I can hardly wait!

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