Friday evening, I was at the Zaballeros' place, gathering with other Filipinos to discuss the "aftermath" so to speak of the Simbang Gabi Mass we helped organise last month. Naturally, as with almost all Filipino gatherings I've been to, there was a plethora of food, and there was much eating and merry-making before "getting down to business".
A great majority (ca. 85%) of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, so naturally, as has been the case with most, if not all the Filipino gatherings I've been to where ever I've lived, there has been some Catholic theme weaving them all together. In this case, we started off with prayer, reflection, and a mini-bible study, reading over the Gospel scheduled for this Sunday (on the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ).
After the meeting was over, people still milled around, chatting with each other, eating more food. We stayed until very late - around 12.30 am. It got me thinking - when I was at home (San Diego), most of these gatherings rarely went on beyond 9.30 pm or thereabouts. There would be parties - birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, maybe even a party to watch some sport on the TV, and the constant would be food and merry making.
Besides the difference in time, another thing struck me as different - there was no evidence of mah-jongg or tong-its games going in the background. My friends and I always used to joke that those two, or variants thereof, were constants at any Filipino party. Not this one. It was actually a very enjoyable evening. And of course, the hosts were insisting we take as much food as possible with us home (yes, the infamous "baon"). So I now have enough food to last me for a week. It's really nice food as well - lots of rice, sinigang (a tamarind-based soup that is really good), paksiw na lechon, macaroni soup, ginataang monggo, and a pomelo. Even though it's late, my mouth waters at the thought of all this wonderful food.
You can be assured that at next week's celebration of the Feast of Sto. Niño, there will be a ton of food ... as well as a large group of Filipinos to pray together (publicity alert: 2.15 pm Rosary, 2.45 pm Procession, 3.00 pm Mass, 4.00 pm Reception at Holy Infant Church in Durham), eat together, and be in fellowship with each other.