Stars recall heartwarming memories of Christmas
We’ve had to hurdle some very tough couple of years since the start of the pandemic. But the Yuletide season always brings a measure of hope, joy and inspiration.
So what better way to spread some Yuletide cheer than ask our favorite celebrities—some of them living in New York, or traveling to Hong Kong, Japan, etc.—to momentarily blur time zones or international borders and take us on a trip down memory lane.
Our Christmas stars this year are led by theater icon and Disney legend Lea Salonga, who continues to bring honor to the Philippines with accomplishments that other homegrown artists can aspire for.
To name a few: Lea got cast in HBO Max’s newly renewed series “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin,” recorded Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” with the a cappella quintet Pentatonix, and was declared a Time100 Impact awardee for being a “life-long role model for kids of color.”
For their part, movie queen Bea Alonzo and premier heartthrob Alden Richards joined forces to bring GMA Network’s glossy adaptation of the 2020 K-drama series “Start-Up” to the small screen. If we enjoy seeing them bring complex characters to life, we love them even more for their “no bs” candor as interviewees.
OPM luminary Ogie Alcasid is as much a loving family man as he is a man of many talents. We have acted with him in a couple of star-studded original Filipino theater productions (“Sino Ka Ba Jose Rizal?,” “Ang Mapaghimalang Birhen ng Caysasay”), but through the years, Ogie has managed to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
Meanwhile, we can always rely on seasoned TV host Lyn Ching-Pascual to provide more early-morning boost to viewers than a cup of kapeng Barako. But we also realized she’s even more engaging as a storyteller. The real-life tales she shared with us—some of them delightful, others disturbing—during a recent trip to Singapore are still vivid in our mind.
Entrepreneur, content creator and former “Pinoy Big Brother” housemate and host Richard Juan, who’s currently in the edgy dystopian short film “The Safe Zone,” isn’t just a pretty face or a true-blue charmer. He’s also one smart cookie who can create hard-to-pull-off opportunities for himself and the people around him.
We were at the “JulieVerse” concert when GMA’s singing sweetheart Julie Anne San Jose and dancer nonpareil Rayver Cruz declared their love for each other in public. But we’re particularly thrilled to see Julie come out of her shell more and more.And then there’s versatile singer, actor, host and radio jock Markki Stroem. Alas, interviews with him are consistently insightful, no-holds-barred affairs.
For a dash of heartwarming or bittersweet nostalgia, we asked our Christmas stars to revisit their childhood and recall fond memories of what Christmas was like for them and their families. How are they spending the holidays, and what do they look forward to in 2023, the Year of the Water Rabbit.
My fondest memories have everything to do with food, I think. My mom would always make hotdogs with cheese in the middle, wrapped in bacon and cooked with lots of tomato sauce. Now, there needs to be fruitcake, fruit salad, baked macaroni and maybe a ham.
As for what I’m looking forward to in 2023, given the strange state of the world today with so much confusion, anger, hatred and conflict, I’d like to be able to look forward to an end to all that.
My fondest memories of Christmas involve spending Noche Buena and attending Simbang Gabi with the whole family. After the Mass, we would buy puto bumbong and bibingka outside the church—you can’t be any more Pinoy than that talaga.
This Christmas, I’m spending it with family again. But I’m leaving for Japan again with Dom (Roque, her boyfriend) after the New Year.
My fondest memories of Christmas as a child would have to be in Norway. I’d sit by the fire as the snow scattered along our driveway. I waited for Santa to knock on our door, because in our tradition, my grandfather would dress up as the “Jule nisse,” which is Santa Claus in Norwegian, and deliver gifts to the kids. I remember this fondly this year as this will be the first year I’ll be spending Christmas away from family. It’s an ode to my grandfather.
After losing my grandfather this year, my Christmas wish is for everyone to be able to spend a bit of time with those they love, as time is fleeting. You never know when you might see them again.
My fondest memories of Christmas would have to be spending it with my many, many cousins. We all had to spend it at my grandmother’s house in Caloocan, and it was always a day full of eating, playing and opening gifts while the adults would play mahjong.
What I wish for Christmas is the same one I’ve wished for since I became a mother. I wish that my children would stay healthy and happy, and that they’d grow up with fortitude and a strong moral fiber for all that they would encounter.
I want them to grow up and make their mark in whatever field they choose. That’s not quite a simple wish, but since it’s the same wish every year, I hope that it would carry some weight with the good Lord. That and, of course, happiness.
My fondest memories have always been the Christmas holidays with my parents, most especially with my dad, now that he’s gone.
I remember there was a huge Yamaha Handog sale, and he bought me my first keyboard synthesizer and voice effects machine. That was in 1987.
My wish is for my mom to have a most joyful Christmas.
I have so many happy memories of Christmas spent with my family. To commemorate it this year, we decided to rent a beach house in Batangas where we can spend Noche Buena and Christmas.
For New Year, we’ll be spending it at home. Then, I’ll take a trip to Japan with my dad, two sisters and a cousin on the second week of January.
JULIE ANNE SAN JOSE
We lived in one compound, so every Christmas, we’d celebrate Noche Buena with the neighbors. Nagpa-potluck party kami. In those days, I’d go caroling with the other kids every Christmas. Tapos, ‘pag nakakakuha kami ng malaking pera, haping-hapi na kami dun (laughs)! Life was so simple then, parang ang sarap balikan!
I don’t have specific plans for Christmas, but I know now how important it is to make time for yourself and your loved ones.
Growing up in Hong Kong, Christmas was always a special time for me. My family and I would decorate the house with lights and a Christmas tree, and we would exchange gifts with each other.
One of my fondest memories was when I was young and my parents would take me to see the Christmas lights and decorations in the city. It was always so magical and festive. We always go all-out in Hong Kong when it comes to Christmas decorations.
We also have a tradition where we (try to) wear the same Christmas sweater and take a photo with it. There was always a lot of food, laughter, traditions and joy during the holiday season.
I am looking forward to being able to spend quality time with my loved ones and creating new memories together. It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and I think it’s important to take the time to appreciate the things that really matter in life.
I also hope to be able to relax and recharge during the holidays and make the most of the season. And for everyone to find joy and gratitude in the midst of whatever challenges we may face.
The first thing that pops up in my mind is spending the traditional Noche Buena with my whole family around one table, back in the days when we were still complete. Kulang na kami, but I vividly remember how it was spending the holidays with my nanay.
Rodjun now lives in in Fairview with his wife (Dianne Medina), while my other brother is based in Cebu. That’s the downside of getting older, especially when your parents are no longer around, nagka-kanya-kanya na s’yempre and we lead different lives.
Still, nothing beats spending the holidays and eating together with all your loved ones around you. Sometimes, just thinking about it makes me cry.
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