It doesn’t really take a lot to make the holidays special for the fam—you can take them to the newly opened amusement park in the city, reserve a table at your favorite restaurant, or build a blanket fort and watch sappy films together.
Then again, these not-so-difficult activities are only possible if your family lives near you. What if they’re miles away? In 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) recorded an estimated 2.3 million Filipinos working abroad during the period of April to September 2018. That’s millions of Filipinos, who left the comforts of their own home in order to give their families a better life.
Not everyone has the time nor the money to travel back and forth to be with their loved ones. Luckily, with technology, we found a way to help you spend some time with your family this season: virtual reunions.
“My kuya recently migrated to Canada with his family a couple years ago so nung Christmas last year, we really felt his absence. That’s when we first tried virtual reunions. Actually, it was my idea kasi I really missed him and my pamangkins,” says Kath, a 22-year-old call center agent who’s recently tried to hold online family reunions.
More and more families are now normalizing the practice of virtual get-togethers, which is slowly changing the way people spend their holidays. A recent video by filmmaker Pepe Diokno depicts how Christmas family reunions have become what they are now: Filipino families finding ways to keep everyone together despite being in different places, and creating new traditions in the process. Watch the video below to see how the modern reunion looks:
“It was really convenient, not gonna lie, but organizing one [a virtual reunion] is as difficult as [organizing] traditional [reunions]. Hindi porke’t it’s online, hindi ka na mage-effort,” Kath says.
Here’s what you need to know to make online reunions work:
- Choose the right platform
There are various video call apps out there—Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Skype. The list goes on, so you won’t really run out of options. But the real question is: What fits your reunion best?
Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and ooVoo are good for small family reunions with 10 to 12 call participants. If you’ve prepared a cheesy year-end presentation for your family, you can let them watch it through Google Hangouts. Skype for Business, meanwhile, can accommodate up to 250 people. If your family is big, then maybe subscribing to this version of Skype is your best bet. So much caller space, your cousins twice removed can join the call. And oh, Skype can automatically store video calls for future references.
- Make sure you’re serving your best look
“The first time we held a virtual reunion, I thought okay lang not to look presentable. I was literally wearing my pambahay. I’m not even sure if I took a bath before joining the call. But yeah, that was the worst ever. My tita noticed and she really attacked me…I was so embarrassed,” Kath shares when asked about her preparations for the reunion.
Here’s the thing, doing the get-together virtually doesn’t exempt you from backhanded comments from your relatives. You can try keeping quiet for the rest of the call but it’s only a matter of time until they’ll start interrogating you. They have hawk eyes, man. Wear a shirt that says “I’m alone, what about it?” in big, bold letters to stop them from asking the same question over again.
We don’t need any more floor-swallow-me-now moments, right?
- Don’t forget to hit the screen record button before y’all start the get-together
Normally, you do this to be able to look back to your lola‘s words of wisdom or your cousin and their partner’s meet-cute story. “Yes, I do record our reunions. The most memorable one was when my pamangkin called me ‘tata’ for the first time. Good thing I recorded it talaga. It was a precious moment,” says Kath.
But knowing you, you’re going to record it for blackmailing purposes. You’re looking forward to who’s going to ugly cry, aren’t you?
- Put the boomers in a separate group call
At one point, some of your relatives might want to discuss some things in private, so you can make a separate group call for you and your cousins. After all, it’s more fun to play games like Never Have I Ever or Two Truths and One Lie without the supervision of boomers.
- Most importantly, use your best device
Choose the device with the best camera quality, battery performance, and largest storage, because one, you wouldn’t want your relatives to see you in pixelated form; two, you don’t want your battery dying while in the middle of a very engaging convo; and three, lagging is the last thing you want to happen to your device.
“I really hate it when my phone lags and it isn’t because mabagal ‘yung connection but because full memory na ‘yung phone ko. Ang sarap ihagis,” Kath jokes. “But seriously, super important talaga na malaki ‘yung storage para smooth ‘yung convo,” she says.
To make virtual reunions and family bonding activities easier for y’all this holiday season, OPPO launched it’s Christmas campaign PamaskOPPO that’s packed with some huge presents. You can have the A9 2020 in Marine Green and Space Purple for only P13,990 and the limited edition Christmas colorway Vanilla Mint at PHP15,990. You can also take home freebies for every purchase of any OPPO phone this season and stand a chance to win special prizes this entire December as well through the PamaskOPPO weekly raffle!
Visit the OPPO Facebook Page for more details about PamaskOPPO campaign.