The Noche Buena Project: The Longest Christmas
The Project of the Youth for a United World of the Philippines and the long Christmas tradition of the Archipelago.
You must know that Christmas in the Philippines is a special and very, very long season! The countdown begins on September 1st and continues during the so-called “Ber Months“, the months whose name end with “-ber”, i.e. the last four of the calendar (September, October, November, and December). This long countdown, marked by community spirit, solidarity, exchange of gifts, and Christmas songs, makes the Christmas season in the Philippines the longest in the world.
The “Noche Buena Project,” promoted by the Youth for a United World of the Archipelago, fits in this tradition from its name, which is the same used to define the party or dinner organized by the families to celebrate Christmas Eve, around midnight.
Karelle, one of the promoters of the Project, explains:”It all began in 2009, when we were hit by the Ondoy Typhoon. We started the Noche Buena Project to spread the joy of Christmas and reach even the families in dire poverty, the communities in the poorest areas of the country, patients in public hospitals, and indigenous people.”
Karelle shares that their commitment is to manufacture the parcels for the “Noche Buena,” Christmas Eve, packaged with traditional food such as ham, cheese, pasta, and other gifts – all things that a family in dire straits would not have access to.
“In 2013, just a month after typhoon Yolanda devastated our country, we extended the Project to the disaster-stricken areas, distributing 1,500 parcels to the cyclone victims.”
Since then, more than 7,000 parcels packed by the Youth for a United World of the Philippines have been distributed for the “Noche Buena” in various communities across the Archipelago.
“In addition to this, every year we organize a Toy Drive, a charity event to collect toys and money to be distributed to poor children on Christmas.”
Next December, the “Noche Buena Project” celebrates its fifth year, as a nationwide initiative.
“For the occasion, we want to reach out to more families, in all the islands of the country,” adds Karelle in her excitement.
Fundraising involves both national and international funders and the collection method is simple: “Each donor (individual or group) can purchase one or more “Noche Buena” kits for 500 pesos each (about 11 euros). By doing this, you help sponsoring the Noche Buena of an impoverished family. Toys, on the other hand, are donated by various Project supporters – families, schools, or partner groups.”
During the long season that characterizes the Christmas tradition in the Philippines archipelago, the Youth for a United World will be very busy: “In the last few months, we have been organizing a series of events called ‘Hamon’, a Filipino word with the double meaning of ‘call to action’ and ‘Christmas ham’ – evenings of music, food, and good company, where people come to give their contribution to the Project, bring toys as a gift, and spread our initiative among their friends. Finally, in December, we will visit the various regions of our country to distribute the ‘Noche Buena’ parcels to their recipients!”
What can I say … considering that in the Philippines it is already the typical waiting time in preparation for Christmas: Merry Christmas to all of you!