With that in mind, we've put together this guide to help you get through a typical Christmas season in the Philippines. Many of them may seem like "common sense" advice to you, but as you will see, "common sense" isn't that common:
Book Your Christmas Trips in Advance
When we say "in advance," we mean "at least six months ahead, if possible." Since it's the holiday season, expect bus terminals, airports, ferry services, etc. to be swamped with people. Now, that isn't a bad thing, on its own — if it didn't mean that tickets would be in short supply. So book any trips as far ahead as you can, or you won't be able to book any at all!
Stay Tuned for PAG-ASA's Updates
As of this writing, Typhoon Nona is thankfully showing signs of leaving the Philippines for good. However, as we've mentioned several times before, it's better to be safe than sorry. Have a back-up plan in case your flight gets cancelled due to inclement weather, and make sure to prepare for typhoons when they come!
Wrap Up Your Banking Transactions ASAP
Philippine banks close up early near December 24 and 25, so if you have any transactions to settle, settle them as soon as you can. Also, as soon as you receive your salary, withdraw it from your nearest ATM a.s.a.p. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with malfunctioning ATMs (which is a common occurrence around Christmas in the Philippines), and you won't have any cash to spend for those extravagant Yuletide parties!
Secure Your House
Speaking of "extravagant Yuletide parties," Filipinos love to celebrate those. However, unscrupulous people (read: thieves) take advantage of these events to sneak into houses while everyone else is having a good time. So if you're going to hold a big party at your house, make sure to invite only people you know, and secure any areas where thieves may enter.
Buy Christmas Lights From Reputable Sources
Some of those reputable sources are listed here. If you're purchasing Christmas lights, make sure they have genuine Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers. It's better to shell out a hefty Php300 for quality lights, than to "save" on Php50 ones that can cause fires due to shoddy craftsmanship. To test Christmas lights, check out this article for more tips.
Place Christmas Decorations in Safe Places
Christmas decorations may be beautiful, but they can also be obstructive. Put them in a place that won't get in the way of passersby. Christmas lights, in particular, should be installed in places where rainfall won't reach them. The last thing you want is for them to malfunction due to short circuits!
Check Everything Before You Leave
If you'll be leaving your house unoccupied for a long time, make sure you leave no stone unturned (so to speak). Check your plumbing for leaks, your electrical connections for broken/defective wires and your doors for any openings that thieves may enter. This way, you can schedule an appointment with your local repairman/plumber, and you'll increase your chances of your house being in one piece once you come back to it.
Inform People That You're Leaving
In case you'll be away from home, and you're anticipating deliveries during that time, come up with a secure way to "receive" those deliveries. You can leave a maid or two in charge of your house, or let a trustworthy neighbor know about your extended absence. Better yet, schedule your deliveries such that they'll arrive at your home when you're not away.
Celebrate Christmas in a Safe Way
You don't need to celebrate Christmas in a flashy way. You can always just use trumpets and other non-explosive noise-making devices to usher in another year. If you have pets and small children, keep them away from your neighbors' firecrackers. If you must use firecrackers, make sure they're on the list of authorized pyrotechnic devices. Otherwise, have a first-aid kit at the ready, and prepare to bring any injured member of your family to the hospital if necessary.
It might sound like a hackneyed, saccharine piece of advice, but really: Thinking positive is the best way to make the most of Christmas, or of any season for that matter. Take Christmas as an opportunity to relax, rewind and be thankful for everything you've had this year. If the year's been a good one overall, then be thankful; if not, then look forward to the next year — and the year after that — as a chance to get things right. May you have a great 2016, and Merry Christmas!