Sharing ‘noche buena’ over Skype
While her mother was setting the table for noche buena, Anne Marie Carmela Dayauon started the video chat app Skype on her laptop, making sure the webcam captured every item on the table.
Somewhere in Bicol, Sharlaine Tagnines and her sister were also preparing the traditional Christmas Eve repast, laying out the food on the table—and fixing the laptop to record the family feast.
The Christmas Eve ritual for the Dayauons and the Tagnineses was for the benefit of their parents who work abroad.
Alvin Dayauon is a bank representative in Dubai. Wilmor Tagnines, a technician, and his wife Chona, a kindergarten teacher, are also based in Dubai.
“We show him what we eat during noche buena over Skype,” Dayauon, 23, said, referring to her dad. “He’s envious because we are eating his favorites, ham and Edam cheese.”
The online conversation did not end with the noche buena, Dayauon said.
After the meal, the father watched while Carmela, her mother Carmen and her brother Aldrin exchanged Christmas gifts.
“He talks to us for three hours,” Dayauon said.
After a lull that allowed both sides to sleep, the Skype chat picked up again during the traditional family reunion after Christmas.
Talking to her dad over Skype is part of family life, Dayauon said. “I keep him updated on my life by talking to him for two hours over Skype,” she said.
Over at the Tagnineses’ home in Bicol, Sharlaine and her sister Madelaine shared their noche buena with their parents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Tagnines said that while talking to her parents over Skype, she showed them what they had on the table.
And even that was not enough, she said. “[After noche buena], my mom insisted that I post photos on Facebook right away,” Tagnines said.
Despite the distance and difference in time (Dubai is four hours behind the Philippines), Tagnines said she got used to the different situation of her family.
When she was young, she said, her parents took her to the UAE to give her a better future.
A year later, however, unforeseen circumstances forced her to return to the Philippines and was left under the care of relatives.
Her parents stayed behind in the UAE. Her mother earned money on the side as a wedding photographer and videographer for locals there. Her parents have been working there for more than 20 years.
The 23-year-old Tagnines works as a systems analyst in Makati. For her, family time means talking to her parents over Skype or Yahoo! Messenger.
Skype, an application that lets users make voice and video calls, has been available in the Philippines since its inception in 2003.
“I talk to my parents online almost twice a week,” Tagnines said.
Social media sites and applications like Twitter, Facebook, Skype and FaceTime help Tagnines keep her parents updated on her activities and whereabouts despite the distance.
Over Skype, she talks to her parents for hours on Christmas Eve, whether she’s in Bicol or Iloilo.