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Jan 10, 2008

Blind Items: Caroling Accounting

Christmas 2007 flew just like the ITCZ in the Pacific. What's this we heard from carolers on the island about this prominent congressman where at least 20-member caroling group took time to sing at his place and his family gave a sealed envelope of his donation. The carolers didn't open the donations until this week. The members witnessed the accounting of the collected money from the fund raising activity during the Holidays.

When they opened the envelope from the Congressman, the group members' eyes widened when they saw three dollars inside the envelope. One member told Middle Road that this congressman called them back and asked them to sing again at his home. The source said the group was wondering why the congressman was so eager to have them back. "Now we know, because he was embarrassed with his three dollars," the source said.

The group sang to the governor's place and gave them $100. The Mayor, $10 and so on.

The Reveler

(I know that this post would raise some brows of Middle Road critics but in our pursuit to be the next TMZ.Com of Saipan and have variety in our blog, we posted this.)


saipanboonieman said...

that is soooo funny! what a cheapskate! i know you'll never post who it is, but im just dying to know!!!! :-P

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

I had never heard of Christmas carolers asking for money until I came to Saipan two years ago. I think that it is an imported custom.

The Writers said...

lol. im so tempted to tell u boonieman.

the imported holiday tradition has been going on for years now and they only ask "donations."

lil_hammerhead said...

As much as it pains me, I have to agree with Sblogger. I've Christmas Caroled in the mainland and Europe, and in my experience, this is the only place where Carolers expect money. I'm glad they only got three dollars. You should be Caroling for the spirit of Christmas (Jesus's supposed birthday celebration). Not to fundraise. Sickening. They should have got 10 cents and been asked to return for an additional nickel.

saipanboonieman said...

culture clash!

Mike said...

I agree with Angelo and the Hammerhead. It must be a Filipino thing, because it is normal for my wife (Filipina) and I had never heard of it.

When a neighbor's group comes around, they usually have the decency to inform me in advance, so I can make sure I have cash enough so I'm not embarrassed.

When strangers come, I usually whip out a $5, tell them it's all I have (usually the truth) and ask them not to sing.

Only in Saipan....

Tamara said...

I have to say, I was kind of upset about the carolers this year also.

First they just walked into our office, blocked the front door and started singing and dancing without even requesting for permission from Management.

Second, they did not even announce to anyone who they were or the name or their group or church and what they were fundraising for.

They sang, danced and then passed around a stocking to collect money, for all I know, I could have been helping pay for someone's CUC bill :)

Don't get me wrong, I love carolers! But I have to agree the collection part does not seem right to me. It would be nice to have a group of carolers who are only interested in spreading the Christmas spirit!

O. Calimbas said...

it happens all the time when i'm in the philippines for the holidays. the carolers are usually with a church.

also, when i was in california a few weeks ago, there were some filipino carolers who walked into a typical small filipino buffet restaurant. they sang and handed out cards requesting donations for a medical mission. no one seemed put off by that.

so, perhaps mike is right? is this exclusively a filipino thing?

lil_hammerhead said...

Culture cash! :)

Marianas Pride said...

I'm going to have to sound off on this one. I love the spirit of Christmas and I love carolers that can sing in tune, but I abhor carolers who do it just for money.

Case in point: I was with my family at Capricciosa's having dinner and carolers came in and sang. We applauded, and suddenly a little boy came up to every table asking for money. Hmmm, how inappropriate! I can't believe the management allowed this to happen. Perhaps they belonged to the same church? Whatever happened to the "NO SOLICITATION" policy?

At my office, we had carolers coming by on a daily basis. I would give a few dollars or whatever I could. How dare them complain about a congressman not giving more than $3! So what is their point? Governor Fitial is a better man because he gave $100?? Perhaps the Congressman didn't have any cash on him! Perhaps that was all he had? Did they ever consider this?

How disgusting and rude it is to sing songs and then demand money, and then when you are given money, you complain it is not enough.

Rev, I'm sorry, but those carolers need to figure out why they are singing. Is it to promote peace and goodwill, or is it to make money? If it is to make money, then perhaps next year they should work on doing a Christmas Caroler's Concert and charge for admission.

Making money off of Christmas and Christ our Savior is something the devil would do.

So yes, I absolutely agree with S Blogger and Lil Hammerhead and everyone else who believes caroling in our islands has gotten out of hand.

Marianas Pride said...

P.S. The carolers that came to my house and office need to work on their singing. Honestly, I heard better singing at my niece's kindergarten play.

Marianas Pride said...

P.P.S.S. Ask the carolers if we can come to their house and sing and if they will give us more than $3. If they don't, can we complain and write about them on middleroad's blogspot as well????

I am sorry but these carolers must have been singing for the almighty DOLLAR! Perhaps they were raising funds for the Church of CASH MONEY?

Marianas Pride said...

Do you think restaurants and bars should ban smoking like they do in California, Hawaii, and Guam?

Please vote at:

rev said...

culture cash? whoa hold your horses. we dont promote racism in this blog lil. you of all people?

anyway, i heard this group sent out letters to those people they visited and yes, they agreed and annually they raise funds for the church through this activity. Last year, the Lions Club of Saipan went to the Corrections (and i was there to witness it) and sang Xmas songs to the female and male inmates. This group didnt ask for money and even gave presents to the inmates.

well, can you blame this group especially when they are all "Filipinos" who most of them have been here for a long time and practice what they used to do back home? Are we all saying that nonresidents should be stopped to do things on freewill?

why did the congressman tried to call them back and sing again? the carolers told Middle Road that their leaders asked the group not to tell anyone about it and respect what people gave them.

it's the spirit of the holidays, and i believe that wont stop me for doing things i want to do either solicit for money or ask for gifts. To each his own. if you're disgusted with this practice, you better bear with it. either you have a wife who is a "Filipina" the fact still remains that the islands is full of it.

However, it is indeed rude if a group just visited you or your office without prior notice. That is also unacceptable in the Philippines now. People can always shoo them away.

I guess some of the comments here are legacies of Ebenezeer Scrooge.

Ed, if you want good singers for caroling, i believe you wont get it here. I have friends who are members of award winning and internationally acclaimed choral group in Manila. Maybe they can pay you a visit next holiday.

btw, tamara, a lady went up to me and ask for holiday donations, i told her i didnt have cash that time, and you're right, the money they collected will go to pay the church's utility bills.

Tamara said...


Unfortunately when they came to my office, they did not identify themselves or the cause they were collecting for, which I felt was inappropriate. If they sent me a letter in advance, I never received it.

I donated some money to them anyway, just as I have for the past who knows how many years that carolers have come by my office. I donated to them twice actually since they came into Truongs a few nights later when I was eating dinner and also approached my table for a donation.

To be honest with you though, If I had known the money was going to pay for a utility bill, I probably would not have donated. Don't get me wrong, I love God, but I don't think he would want us to be paying for a select few to have a nice air-conditioned place to congregate while so many others are suffering with not even a light bulb for their children to do their homework in the evenings. Drive through Kagman village on any given night and you will see what I mean.

My 4 pennies.

rev said...

ey tamara,

we totally understand. if were in your shoes then, they'd have heard from us.

speaking of which, why do churches have ACs here? Shouldnt people sacrifice for two hours of mass on Sundays? Can they use fans?

Mike said...


My main problem is that they seemingly complained about what they were given. There really is no other way to interpret "When they opened the envelope from the Congressman, the group members' eyes widened when they saw three dollars inside the envelope."

Other than that, I don't have too much of a problem with carolers asking for money for songs, but they really aught not be surprised when they don't get a lot of cash. First, it's the holidays, and times are usually tight then. Second, people are especially concerned with finances this year. Finally, as has been made clear by most of the respondent's here, it doesn't seem to be part of US culture.

Cynic that I am, I wonder if they would have gotten more if the group was comprised of voters who lived in the Congressman/Congresswoman's precinct.

Mike said...

I attend the Mt. Carmel service at 6pm on Sundays, and I haven't noticed the AC on. But it is a huge building; perhaps it is on? If so, I wish they would crank it.

rev said...

Mike, ur right. the reason why they kept quiet about it except for my source ;-)

rev said...

the AC is always on. Kristo Rai is cooler though. these Catholics are so spoiled! (forgive me, im but an agnostic catholic)

Mike said...


If I may respectfully ask, why the quotes around "Filipina"? I assume it is in reference to my first post. Did I offend? Misspell? I certainly didn't mean to do either.

I usually don't go around introducing her as "my filipina wife" or anything. But, my wife IS from the Philippines, and it was germane to my assertion that caroling-for-cash was a cultural byproduct of living in the Philippines and not otherwise part of (to my knowledge ) US Culture, as she was familiar with the practice and I was not.

Just asking, and certainly not trying to start anything. (This is why I try not to respond to blogs. I can't figure out how to do it without unintentionally pissing of someone).

Mike said...


If you're not too busy (I'm obviously not today) perhaps you could inform we uninitiated as to what is the proper gratuity for Christmas carolers?

You mentioned the group in the post was a 20 person group. Does that translate to $20?

Our neighbor's group was very large and got $50. But, honestly, there's no way I could afford to give that to each group.

So, what are we talking here, is it per person or per song?

The easy answer is "Whatever you want to give...." But, obviously, there are expectations and 3 bucks isn't a correct answer when the group is 20 people. Perhaps for a trio?

And I'm not putting you on the spot if you were/are a caroler. A general answer would suffice. But you gotta give me something here.

rev said...

haha. Mike, ur one of the few that correctly refers to a woman from the Philippines a Filipina. That is just correct. But the people in general is Filipino. I only referred also from your quote.

if a group sought your consent for a caroling, then it's up to you to allow them. There's no standard what to give the carolers in the Philippines. It's based on what you have and your conscience. ;-)

and no, i am not a caroler.

i hate soliciting for people's money especially when they misinterpret it for something else. ;-)

Danny said...

If you are a caroler, sing for love, not for profit. If you want profit, cut an album.

lil_hammerhead said...

Ah comeon Rev.. you know my "culture cash" had no racial connotation to it. It was a play on a previous commenters "culture clash" :}

rev said...


rev said...

Mike, again there's nothing wrong with quoting someone as Filipina. It is not derogatory whatsoever. It was, though, in the 90's when Oxford Dictionary defined Filipina as Domestic Helper. It was then removed through the request of the Philippine Government. Now it refers to a woman from the Philippines or nationality.

Rick Jones said...

I was at the bank when a group of carolers came in and did their thing for a couple of songs. It was cute, so I gave them $3, it seemed fair for an unannounced visit.

When the same group showed up to work, however, I told them that the management here would not want them to inconvenience our customers, and that if they wanted to do something like that they should let us know first.

Does that make me the Grinch?

rev said...

nope Rick. You just did right. We'd have done the same thing.

that'd irk me and would just shoo them away, if unannounced. ;-)

Boni said...

I think caroling for money has become a tradition that came about because of real need, but I still find it tacky to expect, based on who people are, a certain amount of money and then criticize them after. When my family member died, some people put receipts in the cash box. Some people thought it was rude, I thought it was appropriate, they may have not felt comfortable giving money, but wanted us to know they contributed. Some just left an empty envelope. They obviously felt funny not coming to mass without an envelope because they assumed people would say bad things about them so they "pretended" to give money. I think their presence at church to pray was gift enough. I've never been big on handing out money that I didn't feel moved to give in the first place. A flip side: I've given carolers cookies and hot chocolate and the group bringing the nino a cake on occasion. They were both grateful and cheerful, and that was refreshing. Sometimes the richest person in our minds is having trouble financially due to many reasons that may or may not be a result of their lack of financial discipline or control. Carolers, I always thought, share their songs for the community to enjoy during the holiday season. The three wise men brought gifts to Mary and Joseph to help them fund their trip back to Jerusalem, the shepherds brought nothing but their adoration and praise. We should, families who get visited and carolers alike, share the season with a smile, kind words and gratitude. Money aside, we need each other's support more. Just my humble thoughts.

rev said...

true Boni, very true....

Marianas Pride said...

Boni, very well said, and I totally agree with you, and thank you for bringing up the chenchuli issue, something that will never change in our islands (nor should it, as I can totally relate to it).

Rev, I'm not sure who you meant was being Ebenezer Scrooge, and I certainly hope you don't think I'm a Scrooge. I give more than I possibly can and am often accused of being overly generous by my partners, perhaps which is part of the reason why I am always in debt.

My point is simply that carolers should never complain about how much they receive, whether it is a penny or a $100 dollar bill. I was so aggravated yesterday when I went shopping with my wife at Payless yesterday. Some kids were having a fundraiser and asked me to buy tickets. I said I am sorry but I don't have any money on me but to ask my wife who was ten feet behind me since we were going in different directions (I was headed to Blockbuster with my son to drop off videos). The girl shouted out "He doesn't have any money and we gotta ask his wife." They made a big deal out of it. How extremely rude was that? It is just as rude as when people complain about what they are given.

The normal protocol for all restaurants is they do not allow solicitation. Why? Because people want to have a nice dinner without having to be harassed for money. The restaurant should not allow them to go to each table and ask for money. If anything, the restaurant should pay the carolers and tell them they aren't allowed to solicit. It's as simple as that.

Bottom line is, I give and I give and I give. I don't have much to give anymore, and with a third child on a way, I just can't afford it. So when carolers come to me at stores, at my house, at my business, and at the restaurant I eat at, it tends to become annoying. And if I only give $3, it is because I just paid $800 for utilities and $850 for rent and just paid off my staff. There are so many times when I have nothing left to give to my family.

So please, understand my point and please don't ever think I am a Scrooge or someone who does not give. The last carolers that came to my house unannounced got only $5, because that was the only cash that we had! At 830PM, should we have dressed the kids and run to the ATM?

Pot fabot, to all carolers, realize that if you believe in God and sing His praises, then that is the greatest riches you will ever receive. It is far greater than any money you will be given.

Thanks for allowing me to sound off on this issue, and I'm sorry, but we all need to look at the whole picture here. Like Boni said, sometimes even people who appear wealthy are actually going through some hard times. People come to my office and think I got cash money because it's so nice. Little do they know that I am still paying off our loan and that we went over our budget and that we are suffering because our wonderful government can never pay on time, even though ads are "100% federally funded."

From now on, whatever you receive, be thankful. And be thankful that God loves you.

rev said...

very well said MP.

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