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Filipinos in Qatar celebrate 2 'New Years'.

By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter Thanks to the Internet, Filipinos here celebrate two new years -- one at 7pm and another one at 12 midnight.

Unlike the Christmas celebration where most groups hold parties and gatherings, New Year is more of a family affair for most overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) especially those who are here in Qatar.

They are glued to their computers or laptops as early as 5.30pm and chat with their families and relatives in the Philippines awaiting the New Year revelry to begin at exactly 7pm (Qatar time). Qatar has a five-hour time difference from the Philippines.

"That is the first celebration. We see our families way back home during Media Noche. The second one is at 12 midnight in this country where most of us celebrate it with friends, some relatives and sometimes with colleagues either in a hotel or in some of the villas," said Engineer Rico Dela Rosa of White Young Qatar Architectural and Engineering Consulting Firm. He is also an officer of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE)-Qatar Chapter.

He said they greet the New Year by blowing small trumpets and "pop-ups" instead of fireworks which has been an annual tradition in the Philippines.

Like Rico, Maria Lisa Arcabal sees to it that she chats with her two young daughters at her sister's house in Al Mansoura and celebrates New Year with fellow Christians.

Skype, Facebook, and Yahoo Messenger are too busy during this time of the year for millions of Filipinos.

Lisa's sister, Malou who works as a receptionist at the medical section of Qatar Petroleum often invites relatives, friends and church-mates to celebrate New Year in their home every year. Malou lives with her husband Roy together with their three children.

"An hour before the New Year in the Philippines, I'm already in front of the computer and watch my daughters Mica and Monique celebrate it in Cebu City," says Lisa, an administrative staff of Noor Al Khaleej International School in Doha.

Then at 12 midnight in Doha, Lisa and Malou have to take their own Media Noche here.

Two hours before the New Year celebration in the Philippines, Catholics here are urged to attend the 5pm Mass at the church in Abu Hamour. A separate Mass at 10:30pm is also scheduled for the second batch of church goers.

In the Industrial area, greeting the New Year is a bit different for most Filipinos, many of them Karwa-Mowasalat bus and taxi drivers.

A group of 20 to 30 persons are having videokes, singing from 6pm up to 1am in different accommodations and flats. Some Filipinos who live with their families here prefer to have their Media Noche in restaurants and in hotels while others take it to the Al Bidda/Rmuailah Park for a picnic with close friends and peers.

On the other hand, the Philippine government has appealed to parents to closely watch their children to avoid firecracker-related injuries or deaths as the country celebrates the New Year.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte asked the media to help them in raising public awareness about the dangers of using firecrackers.

"To our friends in the media, please help us reach the families especially the parents. The DOH (Department of Health) has been actively promoting the 'Iwas Paputok' campaign," Valte said.

From December 21-26, a total of 71 fireworks-related injuries and one stray bullet case were recorded in the Philippines. However, the Department of Health said the number of cases is 33% lower compared to the reported cases last year.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2012

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:603
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