[This may be the first in a series of Christmas-related posts]
I hear that the high school is doing its raffle drawing today. (Last weekend some students came by selling tickets at 2 pesos a pop, so I bought ten.) I head over to the school 45 minutes after the official start time and try to enter inconspicuously, but as usual, I am unable to do this and dragged to a chair onstage. The teachers are finishing up the parade of top students this grading period to the stage. Two raffle prizes - a sack of rice, and a lechonon - a live pig that is just ripe to be lechon'ed - are given away. (I win neither.)
The pageant begins. I leave the stage and go stand facing it to get a better view. It is introduced with specific references to the scriptures on which it is based. We are at a public high school, but there is no separation of church and state. The Washington State Capitol Holiday Sign Argument Extravaganza would not occur here. The pageant is mostly traditional, except that the piped-in musical accompaniment is more techno-based than the typical pageant. The three wise men bring their gifts wrapped in festive wrapping paper with Santa designs. Mary and Joseph are addressed as "ma'am-sir" by the innkeeper. And immediately after Herod has given his orders to seek out the babe in swaddling clothes lying in manger, the stage clears and 20 girls in Santa hats, short red skirts, and tall white boots come out and do a dance to an instrumental version of Walking in a Winter Wonderland. (It's at least 80 degrees, but with a strong breeze, admittedly almost-chilly weather here.)
The 2nd-prize pig is roused from its sleep across the field and dragged squealing on stage for a photo-op. It arrives mostly by being dragged on a leash attached to its hoof, but is whisked up the steps with a firm grip with one hand on an ear and another on the tail. I realize that I'm being introduced by the emcee, and jog up to the stage to select the winner of the raffle. I spin the drum with gusto, open the lid, and select a name, hoping that I don't pick my own name. It ends up being a construction worker who's right next door helping to construct a new school building. I am photographed with him, the school principal, and a teacher, handing over the small two-range burner with natural gas tank that is the 1st prize. In her final remarks, the principal urges all male students to make sure they get haircuts over the break. With that, the event is over and the crowd disperses. It has been exactly an hour since I left. I return back to my office.