Year of the Horse

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Monday, January 20, 2014


IN a country that defines its well-being by the price of galunggong, thie year 2014 said to be fall under the spell of the wooden horse.

This practice yearly of ascribing fortune or disaster to an assigned creature in Buddha’s cabal is a Chinese invention. The horse will occupy a dominant and ominous place in our personal affairs, so it is believed.

Although of the same shape, the Chinese wooden horse is different from the famous wooden horse in Greek mythology. Homer’s Iliad depicts how the Greeks invaded the kingdom of Troy by embedding a wooden horse inside the city state’s fortresses. The Chinese horse, however, drives Filipinos to spend their money at SM City Malls.

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From myth to consumerism we see it happen. China-made products have invaded the local markets. The past Christmas season saw the market overflowing with toys, home decors, bangles and trinkets and all types of lucky charms that promised fortune, happiness and a long and lasting love to their bearer.

The only item missing in local malls is a set of “bolitos” which my OFW friend wanted to have as a sensational pasalubong to his missis.

Our cabalen- gullible and superstitious as they are – are quickly taken in by high pressured sales talk of so-called Tsinoy fortune tellers and seers doubling as hustlers.

The glib-tongued television astrologers had the ultimate advice: go get a lucky charm, a horse figure in this year, of course, to help achieve your aspiration; that bracelet to counter bad luck, and this necklace to thwart lurking evil.

These products, easily worth hundreds of millions of pesos, were easily gobbled up by the dim wits and desperate – mostly the latter who believe that good fortune and love can be enhanced by wearing or displaying the Chinese-made ornaments.

Filipinos have acquired the habit – while developing an addiction to – exploding giant firecrackers and similar pyrotechnics; the procurement of l2 round fruits; wearing clothes with polka dot designs to meet the NewYear, and serving tikoy cakes to visitors. This practice had been taught to our forebears by enterprising Chinese immigrants a century ago.

All of the said merchandise incidentally is available mostly at Chinese stores which made a killing with the Pinoy’s ingrained buying spree caused by false belief.

In cities and principal communities everywhere, hotels and restaurants outdo each other in offering special Chinese dishes for the lunar year.
The food merchants do not only serve dining delights but good fortune as well. A roasted Peking duck promises prosperity; the steamed lapu-lapu, flexibility; the creamed eel, long life; the roast pork asado, good health, and the Chinese fried chicken, prosperity.

Caught between two clashing cultures – the American and Chinese- the clueless Pinoy worker has a high price to pay for his lifestyle choices. The average Juan settles either with Mcdo (US) or Jollibee (Tsinoy).

My driver friend plying the Balibao route puts it, “Peka-kaba-kaba me ing sati, king SM ka rin masakati.” Simply it means, in the long run China will win.

A smile to mark the day’s beginning,
a prayer to bless your way,
a song to lighten the heart,
a cheer to praise God’s presence.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 20, 2014.

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