After nine months of quarantine, everyone is aware that Christmas is totally different this year. Parties are not allowed and exchange gifts may simply have to be postponed. Travel to many favorite destinations is still restricted and can only commence once the pandemic tapers off.
The usual, much-awaited Christmas Day at Luneta Park, where at least 30,000 people gather annually, is set to accommodate only 500 individuals at the most. The New Year concert, meanwhile, will happen virtually.
Even celebrities are resigned to the fact that all of us are spending a quarantine Christmas.
For singer-comedian Ogie Alcasid, Christmas this year is bittersweet. His dad, Herminio Alcasid Sr., passed away last September. Ogie tells PhilSTAR L!fe, “The holidays this year are different for my family without my dad. I will miss my father this Christmas.”
Ogie will spend Christmas with his singer-wife Regine Velasquez, son Nate and daughter Leila. “We didn’t make plans to go anywhere this Christmas,” Ogie says. “There are no other plans to spend the holidays but quietly at home.
Two weeks before the holidays, Ogie staged his first pay-per-view concert, Ogie and the Hurados, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila, the same venue where he held the first concert last year.
Balladeer Christian Bautista is also spending a quiet Christmas with his family. “Christmas will be about online parties or video calls to protect each other from COVID-19,” he says. “Or if there are plans to meet up, it’s just with immediate members of the family, to be sure that everyone is tested and everyone has no signs or symptoms, and that we’re wearing masks and that we practice social distancing. What I will miss is being with a lot of people, eating with them, and exchanging gifts.”
Singer-comedian Janno Gibbs will be home too. Even if he has a Christmas movie, Pakboys Takusa, which will be shown online for the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Janno will be at home with his small family—wife Bing Loyzaga and daughters Alyssa and Gabby.
“My dad and mom (Ronaldo and Baby Gibbs) will go to our house, as well as my sister (Melissa),” Janno discloses. “We will all be here.”
He says he will miss going to church and hearing Mass tonight, Christmas Eve. “That’s what my family does every year,” Janno admits. “We were all so used to hugging and kissing our loved ones and people close to us during the holidays. Ngayon, fist bump to greet your friends and loved ones. That’s the most we can do.”
Meanwhile, singer-actor Ariel Rivera is perhaps one of the few celebrities who is slated to leave the country with his actress-wife Gelli de Belen, to visit their two sons—Joaquin and Julio—in Toronto, Canada, where the kids have been based since 2016.
“It will really be a major challenge for us with our two boys, Joaquin and Julio, now residing in Toronto,” Ariel says.
However, what initially worried Ariel was the mandatory rule the Canadian government stipulated, requiring tourists to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. “Due to the recent lockdown, they've stipulated that breaking this mandatory quarantine would result in a heavy fine and/or possible imprisonment,” Ariel offers.
“They will make random, unscheduled calls or even a physical visit to make sure you abide by these restrictions. Because of work, I'll only be in Toronto for 15 days, which means I'm basically limited to staying at home, but really, that's all that matters. As long as I'm with Gelli, my two boys and my mom, it really isn't a sacrifice, but rather a treat.
“All the hugs and kisses with the people we love and hold dear, we can’t do that this year,” Ariel points out.
Ballerina Lisa Macuja is set to spend the holidays with her family in Boracay. In fact, her family has been on the island for the whole month of December. “It’s the longest time we have ever stayed in Boracay,” Lisa says. “During more ‘normal’ Christmases and New Year celebrations in the past, we would also be in Boracay so this year is not very different.”
However, what Lisa laments is that her family will not all be together. “Missy is in Los Angeles and unable to come home for the holidays. We are also missing Sasha and her family who are staying in Manila.
“Normally, my sister Gia and her family would fly home from England to spend a warmer Christmas and New Year together here. Not this year. Also, my brother Joly and his family are staying in Manila this year. But I am very grateful that I am able to spend Christmas with Fred and Manuel and my parents, Cesar and Susan, here in Boracay. It is so quiet and peaceful here.”
Having her entire family all together in one place to celebrate Christmas is what Lisa will miss most of all this year. “I cannot wait for international travel to once again be possible and safe,” she says.
Expectedly, Lisa already anticipated a “different” Christmas from the previous ones, when Ballet Manila was dancing daily in Aliw Theater. “But because of technology and the Internet, I am still able to teach from Boracay. So I am finally able to add ‘winter intensives’ to our online ballet training programs in the Lisa Macuja School of Ballet.”