NINETY-EIGHT million and growing -- the Philippines is one of the most populated country in the world. But even in this vast number of people, we cannot deny the fact that many are still lonely.
Our Overseas Filipino Workers who would spend their Christmas in a foreign land leave behind a family -- a son, or a daughter who would, most often than not, spend their Christmases without their loved ones.
Amid the radiance of the dancing lights and the grandeur of the tall Christmas tree, nothing can wipe away the coldness of the Christmas breeze apart from the presence of a warm hug from a family that you long to be with for a long time.
Yes, internet can make a way, and you can always talk online, but that computer monitor is very cold, it doesn't have life, it doesn’t have warmth.
Filipinos believe that nothing can beat Christmas in the Philippines, for them it is not a one-day event, it is not a passing date, but it is a celebration of camaraderie, joy and thanksgiving.
For the OFWs, the question must not be what's Christmas like in the Philippines, but what is Christmas outside it.
According to the National Statistics Office, as of this year there are about 2.2 million Filipinos working abroad, and out of this number 95 percent still have an existing work, which means there are about a hundred thousand staying outside the country jobless.
For the working OFWs who still have an existing work, Christmas can be good, but how about the ones called TNT's or "Tago ng Tago"? Christmas for them would be just another night of survival, another night of crying, and probably be the longest night in the whole year.
Indeed we understand that our country cannot provide the luxury and the "good" future that we always wanted for our children. However these children will grow up without the caress and the guidance of a parent and they will lose the privilege of growing up with a family, thus leading them to the wrong direction in life.
Christmas would remind these children the greatest rejection of their lives. They will grow colder each year to their parents, and as they continue to grow up, they have a greater tendency to become rebellious, or worst, addicted.
According to Community Drug and Alcohol Council (CDAC), one of the reasons why teens result to drug abuse is the lack of communication between parent and children. It said, "Teens who think their parents don't care are also more likely to pick up bad habits." This means that parent and child communication is helpful in the molding of character for teenagers.
Constant communication and natural voice brings warmth to a person, making it the best way of showing affection to a loved one.
Another reason for drug and alcohol abuse is "unsupervised accessibility," this happens when the children are left to do with their own about their life. And since OFW’s are not around, their children have greater control over their acts. This is the best avenue for them to try and quench their curiosity about something, especially drugs.
"Unsupervised" as the word goes, means that nobody cares and thinks about another person's life. Being unsupervised will make a child feel to be less loved and cared by a parent, because of this they have the tendency to look for happiness from friends, and if they end up with the wrong ones, it surely would be the start of their addiction.
Christmas may be the best night for many, but for a few it is the longest night of their lives. Christmas in the Philippines after all is the best because we do not care about the gifts, but we are thankful for the presence of our dearly beloved family.
Christmas, must not be bragging about new gifts and things, it must be about family bonding with the Lord. Filipinos must always remember that the value of a person's life does not depend on the material things they acquire, but the wholeness deep inside and the overwhelming joy that we see when Christmas comes in the country. (Cheryl Ann Rosales)
Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao for their journalism subject.