Mauricia Padilla and her husband Arcenio take holiday entertaining very seriously making sure to incorporate their Philippine traditions into their celebrations including the food Mauricia prepares for visitors. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

A festive Christmas, Philippines style, is celebrated in Red Deer

The Padilla family really knows how to party, while preserving tradition

The Christmas season is all about food and family — and nowhere more so than at the Padilla home in Red Deer, where more than 100 relatives will ring in the New Year.

Mauricia and her husband Arsenio (Sonny) Padilla will throw their annual Media Noche (New Year’s Eve) potluck on Dec. 31. Guests will include the couple’s two sons, their wives, and two grandchildren, as well as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins from both sides.

A buffet dinner will be served — including the traditional Philippines fruit and egg platter with 13 different kinds of round edibles, for good luck. There will be games, prizes, dancing, and coins will be tossed in the air — again for good fortune, according to Philippines tradition.

“Everybody is here — more than everybody,” said the couple’s grand-nephew Carlo Galicia, 21, with a chuckle.

“God gave me these blessings,” explained Mauricia, who enjoys having her large family around after spending her first two Canadian Christmases alone.

In 1976, the trained nurse emigrated to Red Deer, where she knew no one. “It was my goal to better our lives,” said Mauricia, who had been living in poverty in the North Philippines, earning less than $10 a month, despite her nursing degree. “But it was very, very tough…”

She recalls walking along a cold, dark rural road to her first nursing job in Vegreville. “I was crying and scared… I was holding my rosary in one hand.”

Life became easier when her high-school sweetheart, Arsenio, arrived in Red Deer in 1978. The two married and began helping other relatives get jobs in Central Alberta.

Niece Mary Grace Galicia came to work as a nanny in 1999. Her son Carlo arrived at age 7 in 2003, and is now studying criminal justice at Lethbridge College, hoping to be a police officer.

The large clan takes turns hosting dinners throughout the Christmas season, celebrating in Philippines style. “We have the longest celebration in Asia,” noted Arsenio, a government food inspector. Mauricia, who’s now a financial advisor, after two decades in nursing, explained Christmas music on the radio, bamboo lantern decorating and caroling all start in September back home.

From Dec. 16 to 23, Catholic Filipinos attends mass daily from 4 a.m. and seasonal foods are prepared.

While some ingredients have to be be improvised in Red Deer, she still makes such tasty delicacies as: tupig, a coconut and glutinous rice dish wrapped in banana leaf; arroz caldo, rice porridge with chicken, garlic and eaten with an egg; and puto bumbong, made of black rice in a special steamer.

After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, guests will be welcomed to the Padilla home on Christmas Day. “It’s like your Halloween. We give gifts to all the kids, little candies, so they feel the spirit,” said Mauricia, who’s seen the local Filipino community grow over the years. It’s now our fourth largest ethnic group, following whites, Métis, and Latin Americans.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer Mountie sexual assault trial begins

RCMP officer facing sexual assault with a weapon and breach of trust charges

Power outages expected for Normandeau during electrical upgrade

Customers could experience more than one outage

YMCA to operate Red Deer’s new Northside Community Centre opens July 2

Red Deerians have long been anticipating the opening of the new municipally-owned… Continue reading

Teen reported missing in Red Deer

Red Deer RCMP seek information on teen

Air Canada reviewing how crew left passenger on parked plane

Air Canada said Sunday it’s looking into how crew members could have… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds run in the 5K Foam Fest in Red Deer

The annual event took place at Heritage Ranch on Saturday

Cavallini, David scores 3 goals, Canada defeats Cuba 7-0

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Coach John Herdman couldn’t be happier about the state… Continue reading

Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse lands same job with Canada’s men’s team

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is the new coach of Canada’s… Continue reading

Steamy romance novelist Judith Krantz dies at 91

LOS ANGELES — Writer Judith Krantz, whose million-selling novels such as “Scruples”… Continue reading

Flying Wallendas safely cross Times Square on high wire

NEW YORK — Two siblings from the famed Flying Wallendas safely crossed… Continue reading

UK: Police visit incident dogs Johnson’s leadership campaign

LONDON — The leading contender to become Britain’s next prime minister is… Continue reading

Trump: ‘Surprise’ question about Pence led him to hesitate

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he hesitated when asked about endorsing… Continue reading

Indigenous drummers lead pipeline protesters on 22-kilometre march in Victoria

VICTORIA — The government approval of the Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion won’t stop… Continue reading

Retired UBC professor Peter Winterburn killed in Chile, school confirms

VALPARAISO, Chile — A retired geochemistry professor from the University of British… Continue reading

Most Read