CEBU

Wenceslao: Christmas

I DON’T know why we continue to insist on starting to celebrate Christmas in October. Last week, my ride going home aboard a passenger jeepney got disrupted by two big-bodied men (they were no longer kids) literally begging for money while doing what can be considered a badly delivered rap number. I mean, why are we giving these people a reason to beg this early inside public utility vehicles? Expect things to get worse in the coming days.

Inside one of the popular fastfood establishments in the country, I could hear the strains of Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” while I was eating a not-so-cheap value meal. That only reminded me that as a retiree, I will no longer be getting a Christmas bonus and a 13th month pay this December. Meaning that I will only be giving love to the good number of “kinugos” that I have this Christmas. Imagine me worrying now about what I could not do in December.

Of course, Christmas is not supposed to be about money. I consider that principle, though, as sourgraping and mostly uttered by those who don’t have money to spend on Christmas. On this, I am reminded of the fictional Esteban Escudero’s admonition about the rich and the poor: “Ang pobre ug ang dato parehas ra pero maayo gyud kun naa kay kwarta.”

One thing about us Pinoys is that we always manage to celebrate Christmas no matter what our economic standing is. By “we” I mean mostly those in the plains and urban centers. Because when I stayed in the mountain areas of Cebu City many years ago, I noticed that there is actually not much fuss about Christmas and New Year there, unlike, say, “kalag-kalag.” One New Year’s Eve while the farmers were asleep at midnight, I went out of the house and proceeded to the peak to watch the usual eruption of color on the plains far away.

What would Christmas 2019 be like? I ask this not on a personal context but in the context of us as a community. Would things be any different this year? I look around me and l find nothing much to talk about on the matter. President Rodrigo Duterte’s slogan during the 2016 presidential campaign was about change. Three years into his administration and we have remained like we were eons ago. The change that is supposed to be coming has not come.


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