HAVING LIVED AWAY from the Philippines for eight years, I know the yearning for a Filipino Christmas all too well: the swell of anticipation in my chest as the plane touches down in Manila, with visions of lechon, ensaymada and endless family reunions dancing in my head. That is, until I fi nd myself stewing in traffi c jams and swimming in the sea of humanity that converges in the
city's malls. But I've discovered that a short drive out of Manila, where the air is cooler and fresher, is just the thing to get me feeling warm and fuzzy all over again. A visit to these casas for hire will have your Christmas spirit alive and kicking in no time. Added bonus? You won't have to clean up after the party.