Maligayang Pasko! As we say in my native Filipino language of Tagalog, Merry Christmas! Disney have released their first Christmas story of 2020, and it focuses on Filipino culture. This comes mere days before Disney Pixar’s first all-Filipino film, Float, drops on Disney+.
The animated short is about a loving Filipino grandmother and her granddaughter. The themes of this short is about nostalgia, respect, family, and time. The short explored and appropriately represented many cultural aspects in a Filipino Themed Christmas, but with a little bit of that Disney magic.
Breaking Down From Our Family To Yours
Float starts in 1940s Philippines, in Manila on what we can assume is Christmas. The small city district is shown with beautiful festive Filipino lanterns called Paroles. The scene than shows a young Filipino man just arriving home after presumably working overseas, then being greeted by his daughter and wife at a local station.
We see the daughter take her father’s hand and place it on her forehead. In Filipino culture, that is how you show respect to the elderly especially to our grandparents – it’s called a bless. We then see the father give her loving granddaughter a special gift. That gift is a classic Mickey Mouse doll, and we see the daughter love and embrace it. We then fast-forward into the future.
The second scene starts at a suburban home around Christmas time 2005. The exact location is unknown, but we can presume it’s the United Kingdom. We see in this scene that the little girl who got the Mickey Mouse doll from her father has grown up to be a lovely grandmother, who now has her own granddaughter to take care of.
We then see the new grandmother, or Lola, pass on the Mickey Mouse to her granddaughter, who cherishes the old toy and plays with it. Then we have another time jump into the future.
Now the granddaughter has grown up to become a preteen, but sadly she is now somewhat distanced from her grandmother. They still spent time together, but the youth no longer pays as much attention to her elderly family. What is also sad that the Mickey Mouse doll’s left ear gets damaged, and the girl no longer wishes to play with her dog or make paroles with her Grandmother anyway. We then go forward to the final scene of the animated short.
The fourth scene shows the Grandmother has now greatly aged, and her granddaughter has now grown to a beautiful young woman. Even though the granddaughter still loves her grandmother deeply, it she seems that she always busy. The grandmother attempts to gain her granddaughter’s attention by watching Frozen and to help make paroles with her, but the granddaughter declines and leaves to hang out with her friends.
We then see the grandmother saddened and heartbroken. She holds up her cherished now damaged Mickey Mouse doll and drops it, then goes upstairs in her house and sleeps. We finally then see the granddaughter come back home late and see the dropped Mickey Mouse doll, feeling guilty. We then fast forward to a short scene.
The final scene of this animated Christmas short shows the grandmother waking up and seeing multiple Christmas paroles in her living room. We then see the grandmother being overjoyed and reminiscing of all the Paroles when she was a young girl in the Philippines before realizing it was her granddaughter who made all of those amazing Christmas Paroles.
Then finally we see the granddaughter give her grandmother a Christmas gift. That Christmas gift was the Mickey Mouse doll, but with its left ear fixed. Then they both embrace lovingly and the animated short ends with a message from Disney saying, “From Our Family To Yours”.
Themes and Messages From Filipino Culture
This special Christmas Animated short had many cultural themes and references relating to Filipino culture. The Christmas Holiday is a very big season to the Philippines, and they take it very seriously. Some can argue it’s bigger than the celebrations in many other countries, including the United States.
This is because Christmas is celebrated for four months in the Philippines, starting in September. For four months, Filipino families would decorate, carol, and have many Christmas themed parties and festivals honoring the holiday.
The Christmas Parole
In the start of video you see can see that the small city district had multiple Christmas paroles. A Christmas parole is a star-shaped lantern and is used in many Filipino households and public areas. The Christmas parole’s symbolic meaning is to show the victory of light over darkness. It also symbolizes hope and goodwill during the Christmas season. Making and crafting Paroles is a long Filipino tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. It also represents nostalgia to many.
When we saw the Grandmother making Christmas paroles and teaching her granddaughter how to make them, she was teaching her the importance of keeping traditions alive. When we saw the granddaughter make multiple paroles, it showed she still knew and respected those teachings and tradition. Then we see the flashback of the grandmother remembering all the paroles in her home city in the Philippines, and she cried of happiness because of the good times she had when she was young.
Showing Respect For Your Elders
In the animated short we saw the granddaughter putting her father’s hand in her forehead. In Filipino culture, we call this gesture “Bless” or “Mano Po” . It shows respect and love to the elderly, especially to grandparents. But this gesture can also apply to Mothers (Nanays), Fathers (Tatays), Godfathers (Ninongs), Godmothers (Ninangs), Aunts (Titas), and Uncles (Titos).
In the end, I am glad that Disney was able to show that amazing tradition in the Animated advert.
A theme that was really represented well in the animated short was family. One example is Grandmother’s father visiting her and his wife. In the Philippines, there are many family members that live or work overseas in order to help finance their families back home. These families from overseas usually visit their families around December, because it’s the best time to visit.
The father giving the Grandmother a special gift of a Mickey Mouse toy symbolizes a Pasalubong. A Pasalubong is a Filipino term for travellers bringing gifts from their destination to family members of friends back home. It’s basically buying or getting a souvenir for a loved one.
Another example is when we see the grandmother and her granddaughter in another country. This is very common in Filipino families, as many of them travel to another country and live there to have a better life. We see that the little girl has permanently resides in a new home and lives with her granddaughter. A loving grandchild and grandparent bond is very common is a Filipino family, because it’s very likely that elder family members will take care of their grandchildren while parents are working or gone.
Finally, the fact that the granddaughter who now became a young woman is still living with her grandmother and taking care of her is amazing to see. It is common for many Filipino youth to still live with their families even after growing up and starting a great career. This is because family is the most important aspect of Filipino culture. It is said that when an elderly person lives with his or her family, their lifespan gets longer.
As we see in the video, the grandmother is still alive and going strong when her granddaughter grows up.
The final theme, which I believe is the most important and greatly represented, is time. Time is very important in our everyday lives, as we only have a limited amount of it to spend in life, especially with loved ones.
What I loved in this short was how the Disney team portrayed the granddaughter spending less time with her grandmother as she grows older, only to realize how heartbroken her Grandmother is when she drops her Mickey Mouse doll. The important message of this is that no matter how old you get, you must not forget your loved ones and always spend time, especially with the elderly.
Overall this video hit home and reminded me of the great times I had when I was younger, singing and caroling, and even engaging in the Filipino family party tradition of Christmas Karaoke. But sadly, as we grew older that magic lessened or went away. Family members or relatives are missing or too busy and, as in the animated short, people grow up and don’t have the time to celebrate traditions.
From Our Family To Yours showed that our current generation can sometimes forget our traditions and magic, but most importantly, our loved ones. We saw the video through the perspective of the grandmother, but in the end we saw that her granddaughter did not forget her teachings or her love. Similarly, we need not to forget our loved ones and must have time for them any chance we get.
We must honor the family traditions our elders have lovingly given us and to cherish their teachings. Perhaps this was just a Christmas story from Disney UK, but to my Filipino heritage, it felt like a great deal and gave a loving tribute to our Christmas culture. In the end we must keep the love and magic strong, especially in these hard times.
If you have time hug your family members, or call your grandparents and relatives, do so. Finally, as we say it in my native Tagalog, Maligayang Pasko at Maligayang Piyesta Opisyal. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Source: Disney UK