Christmas hampers bring Filipino comforts of home to newcomers in Calgary

·1 min read

For many Canadians, the traditional holiday meal is turkey and stuffing, or perhaps ham with all the fixings. But in the Philippines, the Christmas meal of choice is a bit different.

This year, the cultural group called Fiesta Filipino decided to bring the comforts of home to some Filipino families who now call Calgary home.

The hampers were put together by volunteers, who worked with the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association to identify newcomers of Filipino heritage who would receive them.

"We call them the Noche Buena Christmas Hampers," said Mike Juarez, one of the organizers.

There's joy on Juarez's face as the hampers, complete with Filipino fixings, are packed and loaded into the volunteers' vehicles.


"During Christmas celebrations, we do fruit salad, spaghetti, ham as well as a cheese," he said.

"Grapes, apples, oranges — all that good stuff. And then you have your spaghetti kits, your pastas, spaghetti sauce, plus you can't have Filipino spaghetti without hot dogs."

Juarez said the aim is to bring the spirit of joy "from the motherland of the Philippines."

Volunteer Evelyn Lopez, who loaded up her car with a hamper plus rice and other essentials for the Zayas family in northeast Calgary, said it brought her joy, too.

"That's one thing that Fiesta Filipino advocates, is to give back to the community. We are non-profit, and it's Christmastime. So, give love on Christmas," she said.

Rhea Zayas said the hamper will brighten a Christmastime that the family won't be able to spend with friends and other family members because of the pandemic.

"It will be really a memorable one, thanks to you," she said to the Fiesta Filipino volunteers.


With files from Elissa Carpenter.