ABU DHABI // Filipinos in the capital have their last chance today to visit a fundraising bazaar at the Philippine embassy.
Filipinos are known to celebrate among the longest and merriest Christmas holiday seasons in the world. Radio stations start playing holiday carols by September, and Christmas festivities extend beyond the new year.
A portion of proceeds from the first-ever Paskuhan — or Christmas — Bazaar at the embassy will benefit Filipinos in the hospital and in jail.
"This is in keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving," said Bal Junio, the chairman of this year's Filipino Christmas festival in the capital.
The embassy bazaar began December 11 and was due to end on December 17, but Filipinos heading to the embassy to pick up travel documents asked that it be extended, said Mr Junio. Each day sees hundreds of Filipinos queueing at the embassy in Al Bateen for their overseas employment certificates. Overseas Filipino workers need to present the certificates to Philippine airport immigration officials when they return to the UAE from their vacations.
"They wanted to try out some Filipino dishes and native delicacies, and shop for small gift items to bring home," Mr Junio said.
Maylinda Emya, 30, a nurse in Abu Dhabi, tried on some sandals while waiting to get her document. She will be flying home for a visit a week from tomorrow.
"I hope we'll have the bazaar here at the embassy all year round," she said.
Dyna Javier, 40, a human resources manager, seized an opportunity and opened a temporary shop where expatriates could photocopy and access the internet.
"People usually come to the embassy to have their passport renewed and other services so we decided to set this up," she said.
One organisation recreated a sari-sari store, which is found in the Philippines, selling a multitude of assorted small items.
The 45 Filipino community organisations in the capital will set up another bazaar in February, and again during the Philippine Independence Day celebrations in June, he said.
The bazaar will be open from 8am to 6pm.