Christmas 2012 began for me at a shelter for children and women in Baguio, Philippines. I arrived at the DSWD shelter to carol singing and a colourful assortment of hanging Christmas decorations designed using drinking straws handmade by the children. I was later taken on a tour of the well-kept facility and learned much about their daily routine and activities. Impressed with the decoration and designs, I bought several small handbags made from drinking straws, knitted headbands and 20 Christmas parols ingeniously made from straws. A "parol" is an ornamental Philippine star-shaped Christmas lantern traditionally made from bamboo and paper. The design of the parol represents the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Kings to the manger. It also symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, for hope and goodwill during the Christmas season. The DSWD shelter in Baguio takes in children and women from domestic abuse situations - violence, sexual abuse, etc.. Children and women are cared for very well here. Residents sometimes live up to a year at the centre before moving back into a loving family environment.