LOOK: How Filipinos in an urban poor community decorate their homes for Christmas

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Despite being one of the most fire-prone areas in Metro Manila, the Christmas spirit in Addition Hills, Mandaluyong still reigns. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Being a predominantly Catholic country, it’s no surprise that Christmas is one of the most celebrated and anticipated occasions — so much so that there are those who go all out with extravagant light displays, towering Christmas trees, and larger-than-life lanterns.

But Christmas in the Philippines is not always bright, light, and cheery. In a community in Brgy. Addition Hills, Mandaluyong, lost homes due to a fire has dampened the Christmas spirit for several years — in 2011 when 300 became homeless, in 2013 when another fire hit the neighborhood two days before Christmas, and in 2016 when two died and 1,400 people were left homeless.

Despite this, Filipinos continue to flock to this area because for most residents, it is one of the most accessible areas in Metro Manila as they find it easy to go from Mandaluyong to Quiapo and/or Cubao, two places they frequent to buy cheap goods for their homes or their tiangges.

This year, we visited a few homes in Addition Hills to see how they’re celebrating Christmas and what they hope to receive this holiday season.

MIS-3.jpg In the Cabrera home, a small Christmas tree sits on top of a worn-out plastic drawer. “Ang Christmas wish ko lang [ay] sana meron kaming pagkain sa pasko at bagong taon,” says Maureen, a mother of three. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-16.jpg “Iba ‘yung pasko dito, iba ‘yung pasko doon [sa Hong Kong],” says Fe Manuel, who worked as a waitress in Hong Kong for over 20 years before finally coming home. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-13.jpg Emma Moyong has been living in this house for over 30 years but is aware that they may be kicked out of their residence anytime. “Sana mabigyan kami ng house and lot kasi dito hindi pa rin sigurado.” Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-9.jpg From left: Cedric, Mackie, Ban Ban, and Chan Chan Pilar. These kids are cousins, and as expected from kids their age, they all want a cellphone for Christmas. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-6.jpg “Sana maayos ‘yung pangangatawan namin at saka walang maramdamang sakit,” says Antonio Lacsamana, a school guard, who had Christmas lights hanging from the eaves of his home. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-21.jpg “Gusto ko na i-open ‘yung gifts ko,” says first-grader Andrea Racal, whose family’s Christmas tree was peppered with big plastic poinsettia flowers. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-4.jpg Yolly Lacsamana decorated her home with tiny parols dangling from the ceiling. She doesn’t want much this Christmas but for her family to stay healthy. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-19.jpg “[Christmas wish ko ay] maging masaya,” says Francisco Valenzuela, who takes care of his nephew’s house, which is probably the house in their street with the most Christmas decor. Photo by JL JAVIER

MIS-23.jpg Joven Fuentes has been working as a seaman for 11 years, but this is only the second year he’ll be celebrating Christmas at his home. Photo by JL JAVIER