Lifestyle, Stories

Disney’s newest Filipino Christmas ad warms the diaspora heart

How many times has Disney made you cry? 

You would think that growing up with so many Disney movies would make you immune to their heart-warming emotional formulas by now. 

However, I, as well as a huge portion of the Internet, am not. And I think we’re all the happier for it. 

Released just a few days ago, Disney EMEA’s newest Christmas advert marks the celebration of its 40-year partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity organization that helps fulfill the wishes of critically ill children. 

From Our Family to Yours tells a touching story of Filipino tradition and family through the eyes of the diaspora by featuring a granddaughter and grandmother pair—one girl who had grown up in her ancestral homeland and one who had not.   

The three-minute animated short first starts by briefly introducing Lola as a young girl in the 1940s who rushes forward to hug her father. She then presses the back of his hand to her forehead in a respectful gesture of mano. Without the need for it to be said, From Our Family to Yours quickly establishes that the story, despite being set in the Philippines for only 30 seconds, is completely and unabashedly Filipino—if the mano didn’t make it obvious, then the parol should have tipped you off!

In 2005, the story jumps to a foreign setting, shifting the narrative to another young girl. Bright and enthusiastic, she develops a yearly tradition of making parols with her lola. However, she eventually slowly grows out of it. Heartbroken, her lola resignedly retires to her room, leaving the parol-making supplies and a once-loved Mickey Mouse doll on the cold living room table. Her granddaughter then comes home guilty to the sight.


“When you’re far from home, it’s hard to know the way.”


This is the line UK artist Ivor Novello sings in the pivotal heartwarming scene where Lola discovers the parol her granddaughter had hung all over the house. It is a moment of nostalgic awe, a reunion of both family and culture. 

And it is something that strikes a deep chord in the hearts of Filipino viewers—deeper still to those in the diaspora community.

For Chinoys such as myself, it’s not only the Filipino mano and the parol that are familiar. It’s the tenuous hold that we try to keep on tradition and culture. It’s the way the older generations try so hard for us to learn Hokkien, the tongue of our ancestors. It’s the reason why I’m writing this article on a website that celebrates a culture that I’m yearning to grasp. 

The granddaughter is a character that many Chinoys may be able to relate to—someone who has intentionally or unintentionally disregarded their cultural identity. After all, how many times have we cast aside old traditions for something more modern? How many have we decided to never learn?   

But in the end, the granddaughter returns to her roots—and more tellingly—rebuilds the relationship she has with her grandmother.       


Ultimately, the simple truth is this: When you’re far from home, it really is hard to know the way. But I think that what From Our Family to Yours also shows is when there are family and love to guide you, you’ll never go too far astray. 


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