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The cosmopolitan city of Shanghai is home to many overseas Filipinos.

The Homesick Pinoy’s Guide to Christmas Apple Mandy tells you what to do and where to go to soothe your yearnings, from finding queso de bola to Simbang Gabi in cities all over the CEB network.


Hong Kong

Ho Chi Minh City


SHANGHAI Where to eat Pinoy food In the past, Filipinos based in Shanghai could only get their local ingredients and canned goods when they flew back to Manila. But over the years, as in so many other cities, those with an entreprenuerial spirit, wanting to make extra, made their return trips productive by flying in an inventory of patis, Silver Swan toyo, suka and more to sell to homesick kababayans. Indeed, that’s what long-time Shanghai residents Fe and Leo Quicho did, going even further to open Luneta (758-2 Julu Lu, by Fumin Lu, +86 (21) 6289 2689), Shanghai’s first Filipino restaurant in late August 2009. The restaurant is decked with Philippine maps and paintings of Old Manila on cream walls. Home-style dishes like crispy pata (deep fried pork knuckles); lechon kawali (crispy pork belly), tokwa’t baboy (fried tofu and pork ear), and lechon paksiw (crispy pork belly

Leo Capispisan PR and marketing manager, Le Royal Meridien

Leo has spent Christmas in Shanghai for the past five years. To combat homesickness, he invites friends for Noche Buena and serves his well-loved signature dishes: adobo and kaldereta. Another highlight is the suckling pig, an alternative to lechon, which he buys at Aimei Chinese Restaurant (798 Nanjing Dong Lu, by Xizang Road, tel: +86 (21) 3318 999 ext 7700). For a truly Pinoy twist, he serves it with Mang Tomas Lechon Sarsa.

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Longing for some Videoke time? G rab the mic at Lune ta in Shan ghai

in vinegar sauce) are best-sellers. And for dessert, they even have halo-halo, sago’t gulaman and leche flan. Macao Portuguese Restaurant (466 Xikang Lu, by Kangding Lu, tel: +8621 6255 0092) is another place Pinoys can get their fix of a few Filipino dishes at affordable rates. Entertainment, Filipino style For live music by excellent Filipino talent, head to most bars in Xintiandi (181 Taicang Lu, near Madang Lu) and five-star hotels. If you are itching to sing your heart out the way only Pinoys can, grab the microphone at Luneta and strut your stuff! Where to meet other Pinoys Apart from Luneta, the Catholic churches have become gathering places for Filipinos. The two popular churches in Puxi are St Francis Church (185 Dongjiadu Lu, by Zhongshan Nan Lu) and St Peter’s Church (270 Chongqing Nan Lu, by Fuxing Park); and one in Pudong: the Sacred Heart Church (151 Hongfeng Lu). Cebu Pacific flies to Shanghai from Manila.


hong kong

photo lester ledesma (magazines)

Where to go for comfort food The day after Christmas, nothing beats crispy and juicy Chickenjoy at Jollibee (Shop Z4, G/B Eurotrade Center, 13-14 Connaught Road, Central, tel: +852 2522 7930 / 2522 7553). But be prepared for the long queues; the place gets full everyday. Go to World-Wide House (19 Des Veoux Road Central, tel: +852 2868 1355) to get the Filipino ingredients for your Noche Buena feast plus post-Misa de Gallo treats like ensaymada, puto, and kutsinta. You’ll also find vendors hawking vacuum-packed bangus, salted duck egg, chicharon and even the infamous balut. Small carinderias nearby dish out hot home-cooked Filipino dishes. “World-Wide is a beehive of canteens and is packed to the rafters, especially on weekends,” says journalist Margie Logarta. “I like to get take away from a small place on the second floor, whose specialty is sisig. I know it isn’t good for me with all that cholesterol, but sinning once in a while injects some fun in life.” For showbiz news, music and more Wondering what’s happening in the arena of Pinoy showbiz? World-Wide Plaza sells the latest local celebrity magazines, plus other stores carry romance novels and CDs.

With all the Pinoys in Hong Kong, you can get practically anything there! Bottom left: Showbiz mags from World-Wide Plaza.

Welcome to Pinoy central A popular place to hang out on Sundays is Exchange Square in Central. All the Filipinos flock there and you’ll see some playing bingo or dancing. It makes for a festive atmosphere. Pinoy Christmas concert Sing along with celebrities Gabby Concepcion, Kakai Bautista and Aegis in Pamaskong Harana (A Christmas Serenade), December 19, 3pm at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre in Wanchai. Organized by CSL, Globe and ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel, it’s a fun way to meet fellow Pinoys.

Cebu Pacific flies to Hong Kong from Manila, Clark and Cebu.

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Margie Logarta Managing editor, Asia, Panacea Publishing Asia Ltd

“In the last week of November, I start bringing out the Christmas stuff. I found Christmas balls in my favorite color, purple, and I pour them into a tall crystal vase like it’s a Christmas tree. A 15-inch Santa sits by my living room window so he can see Victoria Harbour. Then I hang a huge fireplace sock with my initial on my front door to show I’m celebrating the most joyous event on the Christian calendar, one we now share with everyone, no matter what faith they belong to.”


Some people ease their homesickness by having one or two Pinoy Christmas icons like a nativity scene or a lantern. Bottom: Hotel de Ville in Ho Chi Minh City is one of many city hotels festooned in lavish lights.

Oji Valencia Senior art director

Oji has spent four Christmases in Vietnam. Since the holiday is not as popular as back home, he adapts to the environment and enjoys every moment of it. “Together with my Vietnamese friends, we dress up, drive around and get our pictures taken outside decorated malls,” he says. “On Christmas Day, my friends and I will buy ingredients from Tan Dinh Market (Hai Ba Trung, District 1) and cook nilagang baka (boiled beef) or sinigang (beef in tamarind). Then we’ll watch old Tito, Vic and Joey movies from YouTube or sing a bunch of Filipinos songs together.”

Filipino Hang the ern) and parol (lant hristmas you’ll feel C u are! yo wherever ho chi minh city Where to buy Filipino goods There are only a few places where one can get the more traditional items that symbolize Christmas. Most Filipinos who want to celebrate it Pinoy-style just make do with what’s available. There are small shops in Phu My Hung and a dry cleaning shop called “Wash 4 U” that sell cans of Argentina corned beef and that old-school snack, Chiz Curls. Where to meet other Filipinos It’s not all that easy to meet Filipinos in this city, but if you want to mingle with some, you’ll find them at Saigon Square (Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1) or in the shoe stores near Binh Tay Market (Hau Giang St, District 6) or

Phu My Hung in District 7. Also, there’s SAPI (Samahang Pilipino) which organizes monthly Pinoy gatherings. Entertainment, Filipino style There are Pinoy bands playing everywhere such as at 17 Saloon, the

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Caravelle Hotel (19 Lam Son Square, District 1) and The Tavern (R2-24 Hung Gia3, Bui Bang Doan St, Phu My Hung, District 2). Cebu Pacific flies to Ho Chi Minh City from Manila.


The Bird’s Nest Stadium looks festively lit up at night. Below: Pinoy Christmas treats puto and leche flan.

Where to hear Christmas mass Make that spiritual connection this Christmas in Beijing at Southern Cathedral at Xuanwumen (Northeast corner of the subway station), and there’s another at Wangfujing. Where to check out for Pinoy bands There are many Filipino bands playing in Beijing and you can easily request an Original Pinoy Music (OPM) song. A band plays at Paulaner Brauhaus (Kempinski Hotel, 50 Liangmaqiao Lu, tel:+86 (10) 6465 3388 ext 5731); Hard Rock Café by Great Wall Sheraton Hotel; and Swingers at Sanlitun. They usually play English songs but who knows, they may indulge your OPM request. How to meet Pinoys The Philippine Embassy (23 Xiushui Beijie, Jianguomenwai; holds a Christmas party yearly. Register with them to get an ID. Cebu Pacific flies to Beijing from Manila.

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Andrew Angelo Ang Senior software engineer for Cybersoft (Beijing) Information Techonologies Inc Twenty-six-yearold Andrew Ang has spent two Christmases in his five years of stay here. “Since calling the Philippines, even through online services, is expensive, just ask your family or friends to call you,” says Andrew. “Skype to a China landline or mobile number costs only US$0.02 per minute, so that’s awesomely cheap, and the rates are the same as calling the United States. The other way would be to tell your family to get a Sun SIM card, and to use a Sun Cellular international prepaid card.”

photo lester ledesma (puto and leche flan)

beijing Where to get Filipino food At the moment, there is only one place you can get Pinoy food in Beijing. Speedy V is the first, focusing mainly on lunch deliveries with a converted kitchen and small five-seat restaurant serving adobong Tagalog, and tapas. They catered for the Independence Day celebration at the Philippine Embassy this year. (Shifoying Dongli, across from Riyue Donghua Xiaoqu,

A Guide for Filipinos on How to Spend Christmas Abroad - SMILE  

Apple Mandy tells you what to do and where to go to soothe your yearnings, from finding queso de bola to Simbang Gabi in cities all over the...