Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.
I have said and heard these greetings for the umpteenth time and still feel these words as empty. Why? Because they are not purely true. Not everyone are happy or merry last Christmastime or at this minute.
One look back at what had happened (and what is happening) to our country is enough to explain why.
So many people had battled storms, fires and all other calamities known to man and it’s not easy to forget them and join the holidays of cheer.
Who could forget Typhoon Auring and the cloudburst which had caused floods in some parts of Northern Mindanao at the start of year 2009? Who could ever forget Ondoy and Pepeng who had awakened parts of Luzon (especially in Metro Manila) in a deluge that had also awakened the the Filipino’s bayanihan spirit and resilience? And who could forget that more than 20 typhoons had struck the country and had caused the loss of lives, families, and homes? Who c0uld forget the nature’s biggest blows last year?
Domestic wars had also continued in some parts of the globe. In our country, who could forget the aerial bombings in Sulu during the last year’s Eidl Fitr, a major holiday observed by Muslims at the end of Ramadhan?
Who could forget the hostilities between seccessionist groups and government forces due to age-old struggles?
Who could forget the worst storm that hit our country, now the world’s most dangerous place for journalists? The goosebumps we felt on the massacre in Maguindanao on November 23 still haunt us like some fearsome bedtime story.
Who could forget the Christmas Eve sea tragedy near Limbones Island in Cavite where vessels MV Catalyn B sank after it collided with MV Anatolia sending lives to the deep blue sea? Or the capsized MV Baleno-9 in Batangas whose passengers still remained missing?
Who could forget the December fires that ravaged homes in Marikina?
And who could forget how thousands of families who spent Christmas at evacuation centers as they waited for Mayon volcano’s full-blown explosion?
Who could forget all the struggles and triumphs we had faced now that the Christmas season has passed our way and the new year started to unfold?
The answer should have been optimistic but then…
But then, who can remember when almost everyone are swallowed by the spirit of abundance and materialism and generosity and mendicancy?
Who could remember when the deaths that register in your minds in 2009 are only those of Cory Aquino, Michael Jackson, Francis M, Johnny Delgado, and other celebrities without thinking of the journalists, lawyers, women scooped with a backhoe in Ampatuan Maguindanao?
Who could remember when the heroes of 2009 are only Manny Pacquiao and Efren Peñaflorida Jr and not the volunteers, young and old,who had helped during floods, fires, volcanic eruptions?
Who would remember when love and joy and sharing are only felt on Christmastime and hope only felt on the New Year’s Eve?
Who would remember if every blessed person will sit with satisfaction on his food, gifts, and family without thoughts of other people’s empty tables, empty chairs, empty homes, empty stomaches, or empty hearts?
The prospects for better days seem rather distant and vague but the faint light is held by those who can still remember yesterday’s lessons–felt by you and me and the others.
Let Christmas be for “the others”; the New Year a new chance of connecting with them.
The gifts may already be given, smiles exchanged, delicious feast served, reunions organized but let them live on–for your sake and the others.
So let not the joy of Christmas fade with the New Year. And let not the hopes felt in New Year’s Eve fade as thoughts of reality engulf us.
Instead, together, we can make every day a Christmas; a new day like a new year. And so those greetings above may work the whole year round–not as a fact–but as a wish.
Have Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!