Lining up for a “firing squad” at the Plaza Independencia* – that’s what singles would jokingly say then when asked how they would celebrate their Valentine’s Day. If you wear red on that day, you’ll be “accused” of being on the look-out for a valentina/valentino or Valentine date. Though generally, February 14 is considered a day for the lovers, it is also a celebration of love for other special people such as family and friends.
Nothing much is different of how people of Cebu and Philippines celebrate the Valentine’s Day. It’s going to be like everyone else’s celebration – greetings, greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, dates, depression (for those who feel bad about it…:D) and others. Although there is a recent tradition by the way – the Close Up Lovapalooza where thousands of couples kiss in one celebration for fun, for a world record, and for other reasons. But it’s not all about kissing though, there would also be music and bands!
February 14 is also a time of the year where flowers abound and get pricey (a universal phenomenon for sure)! While the sosyals or those who could afford the expensive prefer tulips and roses that traveled all around the world, those from the lower class do not get left behind. Carbon Market is the place to be for flowers (from the beautiful gardens of Busay)! For just about a hundred pesos, a young man could already get a nicely arranged bouquet of red roses (of course, that would not be for his mom). Amazingly, vendors in Carbon do have good taste in arranging and wrapping the flowers though the ribbons that they use are obviously substandard at times too.
Back in my college, Valentine’s Day would sometimes fall on Teachers’ Day. Single roses wrapped in transparent plastic were always available outside school (in college, elementary and high school campuses alike, by the way) where sellers line up with their black plastic basins full. Each rose would cost five to ten pesos, very affordable indeed for a student’s budget. Besides, professors would mind it more if they get nothing.
Back in my high school, Valentine’s Day or season would fall on the celebration of Family Day. Timely enough for the Wedding Booths and Dating Booths! Teachers then too would not want to move away from the hearty air. They would let their students make the most creative greeting cards they could make or the most nicely worded love letter or essays about February 14. My biology teacher once asked us to make a red greeting card shaped like a real human heart. She explained in one of her lectures, “You should not say, ‘I love you with all my heart’ because the heart does not control your emotions. It should be ‘I love you with all my hypothalamus’.” Recently though, a nursing student friend of mine said the more correct expression should be “I love you with all my thalamus”. Errr… Whatever. Better say it in traditional Cebuano then, “Gihigugma ko ikaw.”
Before I puke of the cheesiness here is the period (the punctuation mark, I mean).
*Plaza Independencia is a historical park in Cebu formerly called Plaza Libertad. It is located between Fort San Pedro (the smallest and oldest tri-bastion fort in the country) and the location where the Gobierno Provincial used to stand. Plaza Independencia is a common place for picnics and other activities. Sadly, this park has already been neglected and does not have a very good reputation to locals.