BAGUIO

Fernando: Christmasee!

Paradigm

I HEARD this term (Christmasee) once in a TV series on a Christmas time setting when one character tried to tell another about a scent that does not so much smell like Christmas. “Well, it’s not so Christmasee!” Is there a single-word-adjective that describes the feeling (an event, a feeling, mood, etc) of Christmas in general? I was trying to find a word that describe the general disposition of our fellow Filipinos after the Balangiga Bells were returned to us and the crowning of Catriona Gray as Miss Universe and I could not find any word but this one. I just thought the feeling was so Christmasee!

The Americans captured the three Balangiga Bells from the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir, Eastern Samar as war trophies after reprisals from the citizens following the Balangiga massacre in 1901 during the Philippine-American War. These three bells do not only present one crucial part of our history as Filipinos, it also speaks of the vigorous struggle of our patriots for independence and protection of Filipino lives. It tells of the horror of the massacre endured by many of our brothers and sisters in the place. The bells are reminders of so many things, both vicious and glorious. And to witness their return to our shore and hear their resounding rings once again, the feeling I imagine would be so ecstatic. One best mood-setter for the Christmas celebration would be the return of these bells. It goes with the feeling that we, Filipinos, are so blessed.

The Americans might have another motive for returning these symbolic bells but for me it does not make much of a difference. The victorious and blessed feeling that it brought to our country are more than enough. Something that is rightfully ours was returned to us. The grit and valor of Filipinos through their retaliations after the massacre was inked on those bells. I was not surprised when many of the surviving veterans and their relatives were moved to tears upon seeing the bells again. Analysts would say that it was the work of politics that made their return happened. The Chinese and our president appear to have a sweetening relationship and Uncle Sam was worried that the country will be completely lured by the Chinese. So America needed to get our attention back. They thought of a sweet gift and so they brought out the Balangiga Bells into the light and wrapped them like a Christmas present. Then came the note; From: USA To: The Philippines. Christmasee, right!

Speaking of another Christmasee event was the crowning of Catriona Gray (never mind about the last name – she is a Filipina and this counts the most) as this year’s Miss Universe. Everybody could feel the country’s genuine celebration. Those emotions after the December fights of Pacquiao before came to life again after the announcement of the pageant’s winner. It was so sweet to hear the country’s name announced as the last one standing among 93 represented countries. This was followed by Filipinos celebrating all over the country and the singing of the national anthem of those gathered outside the event venue. It was just a perfect prelude to the Christmas celebration a week from now. Everybody Filipino seems happy. To witness these celebrations give pride and honor to ourselves as Filipinos and feel grateful of the one born on Christmas Day.

We have our own versions of struggles and challenges this Christmas I’m sure, but these two events I believe made most Filipinos lives lighter. They somehow made us forget the hocus-pocus of many of our politicians, the massacre in Gonzaga, and other news of criminalities in other corners of the country. The return of the bells after 117 years and the winning of Gray gave us more reasons to smile and feel blessed amidst these challenges. I hope so too that these blessed feeling will be translated to works of love and mercy this Christmas. I hope that these grateful and light mood motivated by these events continue all throughout this year and the coming year.

Next week will be Christmas Day. The days move so past. I remember less than three months ago when our office began to make our Christmas countdown. We started with 100 days before Christmas and now I can make the countdown with my fingers. Christmas became even more apparent to us Filipinos with the return of the Balangiga bells and winning of Gray as Miss Universe. To an ordinary Filipino, these events may seem distant considering our own struggles in our daily lives but we must admit they did something to uplift our spirit and to feel that Christmas spirit again. When asked about our feeling this Christmas and we realize there are lot of reasons to smile, we feel like we want to dance and sing a tune, or feel grateful for all our blessings, we can always tell...it is Christmasee!


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