“White Christmas” Documentary Review

White Christmas where it never snows.

Through the documentary “White Christmas,” Michael Magnaye expatiates his experiences with the annual elaborate Christmas in the Philippines that is greatly influenced by the ideas of religion by the Spanish and commercialism of Christmas by the United States of America. He focuses on the paradox of filipina/os celebrating a holiday that was imposed on them by Spanish colonization and the paradox of filipina/os extravagant expenses to replicate an American concept of Christmas. Magnaye shares his ignorance about the American ornaments that were used by his family and other Filipina/os when decorating their fake christmas trees which symbolizes the way Filipina/os have “swallowed whole” the concept of White Christmas. In the documentary, there were a lot footage of the exorbitant parades during Christmas making a spectacle of what were supposed to be sacred figures. These processions show how Filipina/os have adapted these traditions for their own.

Through the discussion of Christmas in the Philippines, Magnaye is able to explore the different ways U.S. colonialism/imperialism influences the archipelago. He elaborates on American street names such as Yale, Stanford, etc.; English as the main language in schools; and the American dream engrained in the minds of Filipinos. The documentary exhibits both the paradox and the hybridity of Filipina/o American Identities.

The title “White Christmas,” represents Filipina/os use of Christmas to access their fantasies of becoming American, something that they never will be. During the Christmas “season” Filipina/os practice what they think is American: spending extravagantly, comparing successes, and giving excessively to satisfy what they have been socialized to consider as superior culture.

-Richelle (OPP)