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Despite the Philippines’ continuing struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, a sociologist at Palawan State University (PSU) said she anticipates the tradition of Filipinos in celebrating the longest Christmas season will not change.

However, Pop Culture professor Jackielyn Soquerata-Abela of the PSU College of Arts and Humanities said the pandemic will bring significant changes in the way Filipinos will celebrate the season.

Soquerata-Abela said Christmas celebration in the Philippines will remain jovial but will tend to be smaller with only immediate family members marking it in their homes.

“I think this pandemic cannot change the tradition of the Filipinos in celebrating the longest Christmas season, however, it will bring significant changes in the way we celebrate Pasko sa Pinas,” she said.

Filipinos are quick to bounce back from any situation and can make Christmas memorable and fun in a minimal way, she added. The only saddest part is when family members who are balikbayans and overseas workers cannot come home.

“OFWs and Balikbayans are always looking forward to going home for Christmas. This will be the saddest part, I think. It will be grueling to undergo the whole process of quarantine and take the risk just to be with their families this Christmas,” she said

Some of the significant changes in the celebration of Christmas, she said. would be the reduced number of devotees during church events such as the Misa de Gallo, the holding of Christmas parties, and Christmas sales.

Devotees who used to allot time to join the Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi, aiming to complete nine masses for their wishes to be granted, might opt to set plans aside for the time being.

“The usual nine novena masses before Christmas will be regulated as the number of parishioners inside the church for physical distancing will be observed. The usual ambiance of Simbang Gabi with churches filled with people smiling and greeting each other will be replaced by smiles under the masks,” she said.

As kids are also not allowed to go outside under community quarantine, Christmas carols performed by children will not be heard in the meantime.

“Let’s admit it that the kids singing Christmas carols is a manifestation that Christmas Day is near. It usually starts on the first day of Simbang Gabi as well. Kids are not allowed to go out under MGCQ,” she said.

The pandemic will also affect Christmas sales as only limited recreation is allowed and travels will be downsized.

Regardless of the significant changes that the pandemic has brought, Soquerata-Abela believes that Filipinos can also celebrate Christmas merrily.

“I want to believe that Filipinos are very sensible. We are known as ‘magaling makisama’, with this a lot would also do discreet celebration, not the usual loud and extravagant parties,” she said.