Celebrate for a Day

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last Sunday, our parish gave an interesting homily.   He told a story about an engaged couple who were set to be married.  Since they were on a strict budget, they opted to cut down the number of guests to 200  guests (100 each)  and sent out invitations with explicit instructions to RSVP for them to know who would be attending.  Only half of the invited confirmed.   Since the actual reception was already booked for 200, the couple seemed that it would be impractical to have the reception hall half filled.  And so they sent out another batch of invitations totalling an additional 100 of friends they were initially not able to invite. 

Come their wedding day and they were shocked that almost everybody who didn't confirm, went, which caused them the dilema of how to accommodate more than the alloted seating capacity and food count.   It was supposed to be a worry-free day for them, but at the same time, they did not want any guest to feel sad on their wedding day.  

Later that Sunday evening, our neighbor was celebrating their birthday and rented a videoke machine.  It was so loud that I couldn't help but talk about it over dinner.  It made me remember the homily given earlier.   I learned that the celebration our neighbor had was an all-day affair.  I couldn't imagine how much food and effort would entail a whole-day party.

I also remembered my inaanak who was baptized in the morning, followed by lunch at their house.   Several friends who had work that day until 9pm proceeded to the baptized baby's home.  I would think that the mom would just say that the celebration is over and there's no more food left.   Instead, food was allocated to feed every guest for the entire day.  And even if the baby was long asleep by then, the friends still came.  

It had me thinking about the two different scenarios -  not confirming to attending a celebration and going to a celebration even if it's over.  I tried to think about it from a logical perspective.   In simple terms, RSVP is for the host to be able to gauge headcount for food and other preparations on the day of the celebration and also is an indication of who is invited.   Giving an inclusive time of a party would make everybody attending to follow and attend the event during the given time.  Simple right ?  It's just a matter of following instructions.

But my mom pointed out that Filipino culture dictates otherwise.

First of all, Filipinos have the "tampo" factor when someone is offered something and you are not.   I've seen this in several occasions.  If there's an event and one finds out that his/her friends were invited and he/she wasn't, it can serve as grounds to react and feel sad for being left out.   It shouldn't be but it's quite common.   Some hosts are easily affected and thus "give in" out of goodwill to avoid any conflict, even if it may be against their will.   The hosts just hope that the person may forget or may not attend at all.   So that throws the entire invitation and RSVP out the window.

Second is that Filipinos extend birthdays, baptisms and other occasions to a whole-day affair.   If you're going to cater to any guest who will come at any time of the day, which is also undetermined, it's like having a restaurant open all day.   Filipinos usually practice this especially if the party is at their home.   So if most people come let's say during lunch for a lunch party, then all is fine.  But if some more people come at different intervals during the afternoon and evening, the hosts would have to attend to them, which includes mingling, entertaining them and serving food (reheating food or cooking a new batch all together).  It's like holding multiple parties within the day.   But my mom says that it's tradition passed on from the "fiesta" concept, where even strangers can pass by and be invited in to celebrate. So holding a definite time for a celebration here tends to be ignored.

I guess that's why some people prefer to celebrate outside home, where following time is more strict, such as with a birthday party at Jollibee or a wedding reception banquet.    If you miss the time, you miss the event.  If you don't confirm attendance, you're not guaranteed a seat and food.  

It's a clash between tradition and practicality.  

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  1. Not RSVP-ing and being late are two headaches I get when I have parties, that's why I don't do it often. Did you know that there's a company who actually offer RSVP services now?