December has been a great month for me. One of the most enjoyable months that I can remember.
As I told you earlier, I got a gig playing Santa Claus at a bunch of malls around Southern Mindanao. This is not something I have ever really done before, but I am glad that I did it, it was just so much fun!
To be honest, the job was a lot of work, and I spent many hours doing it. But, it was also all worthwhile. Seeing the looks on the faces of some of those kids was just priceless. The shock. The amazement. The unexpected surprise when they saw a “real Santa. I can’t tell you how many times I heard those words – “Real Santa” from both kids and adults! It was all because for many, it was their first time to see a foreign Santa Claus, and for them… Santa is a foreigner. That’s what they see on TV or read about in the story books. But, for the most part, they just never saw it in person before.
At one stop, in General Santos City, at Gaisano Mall there, at the place where I was set up for being Santa in the mall, there was another Santa quite nearby. He was a Filipino who was dressed up as Santa. He didn’t have many people gathering around him, while I had literally over 100 people waiting to see me. Ha ha… I felt a bit bad for the fellow, after all, he was only trying to spread some holiday cheer to his kababayans. I heard several people say – “Oh, he is just a local Santa, we will wait to see the real Santa.” It made me feel both good and bad at the same time. Good because it was fun for me to have people believe so much in me, but bad for the other fellow.
Over the course of about two weeks, I visited the following cities playing Santa Claus:
- Tagum (Davao del Norte)
- Panabo (Davao del Norte)
- Davao City
- Digos City (Davao del Sur)
- Kidapawan City (North Cotabato)
- Cotabato City
- General Santos City
- Marbel/Koronadal (South Cotabato)
Most, nearly all of those cities included multiple different stops at different malls or stores.
Really, the most fun was in the smaller towns and provincial areas. It was the most fun because some of these people have probably never seen any Santa Claus in their town, and almost certainly never seen a “foreigner Santa Claus”. Those were the places where the kids faces were painted with shock and surprise. It was very rewarding to be part of what was a very special event for those children. Something that surprised me was that so many adults also got a real kick out of seeing Santa as well!
In the larger places, like especially in Davao City, for many people it was not too big of a deal, seeing Santa. They had already seen Santa many times in the malls or other places around the city. Yes, there were still a lot of people who had fun with it, but it was really not the same experience as when I visited some of the smaller, more rural areas.
Of particular interest was when I went to Cotabato City. Cotabato City has a very large Muslim population. You will see fully covered in the burka, which is a Muslim style of clothing for the women which covers all of their body except for just a small opening for the eyes. Even the ladies dressed up like that were still interested about Santa Claus, though. It surprised me, because as Muslims they don’t really believe in the Christian holiday of Christmas, but it was still something out of the ordinary that got their interest.
Other Muslims who are not as strict, ladies who just had a head veil (hijab) instead of the bull burka, were also very interested. In fact, those who are less strict in their worship were even somewhat wild and wanted pictures with Santa. It was kind of fun to see the reaction of the Muslim people who really don’t believe in the hobby, but still had great interest.
Anyway, the Santa gig was sure a lot of fun, and I hope that I will be able to do it again next year, and for years to come. I never thought that I would enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Like I say, some days included some really long hours, but it was well worthwhile!
Merry Christmas, everybody! Ho Ho Ho!