In a tiny shop built with metal wires and an old tarpaulin on the outskirts of Manila, employees are hard at work. It is October and Christmas is fast approaching, meaning the orders are rolling in for parols, traditional lanterns that are hung up throughout towns and villages in the Philippines.

Christmas season here starts as early as September and involves a massive network of balik bayan boxes sent from near and far, extravagant parties with colleagues, friends and family, and a whole lot of pig roasting.

Between 100,000 to 150,000 overseas Filipino workers return home to spend Christmas with their families. Those who can’t make it send gifts and money. In 2016, their remittances reached an all-time high of $28 billion.

Photographer Jilson Tiu roamed Manila, from the high end shopping malls to the night markets, to capture the atmosphere in his city during the holiday season.

For the past three years, police officer John Guiagui has organized Christmas shows for street children of Quiapo church.
1. Quiapo street markets sell toys, clothes, and fruits during the holiday season. / 2. People buy Chinese ham at the famous “Excelente” store on Christmas eve.
Shipping companies handle millions of metric tons in balik bayan boxes each year.

Roasted native pig or “lechon” is present on every table during Noche Buena, the Christmas Eve dinner.

1. A man poses in front of a “Belen,” a creche representing the Nativity scene, in the streets of Manila. / 2. Millions of people visit the Recto-Divisoria night markets during the holiday season.
Putobong bong, a purple-colored sticky rice cake, is traditionally eaten after Midnight Mass.

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