HERE in Pampanga, in the City of San Fernando, the endless blinking and dancing lights of parols sold on sidewalks of highways will mean only one thing. "Ilan tulog na lang pasko na naman." Just it was melodiously said in a song, "oh kay tulin ng araw..." Celebration of Christmas definitely will not be the same as long as an effective and a safe vaccine will be made available. Just the other week, City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago announced in a meeting with media men that the traditional "Ligligan Parol" will be downplayed this year.
Each time and each day I open the "idiot box," me and you get nothing but a scoring of the number of cases which are steadily rising and coupled by some idiotic comments from some stupid announcers. (Search me but I can't understand why network management allows some of their anchors who are more circus barkers to make unconfirmed reports and repeatedly issue warnings at every turn). Wala na bang ibang balita bukod sa pandemic?
I love to keep writing and reminiscing this. (Para maiba naman). When I was growing up in our lethargic town of Porac, there were no malls yet. Since our town fiesta was on November 25, my mother would buy me clothes peddled by street hawkers who sold wares and most anything. Having new clothes for Christmas, a trouser with a matching pant! Wow, that's big deal.
The giant and electronically operated lanterns were the future. Even on houses of the rich, displayed on their windows were the simple parol. No other decor. No multi-colored dancing Christmas lights. Only the wealthy can afford decorated Christmas trees. Only them can afford cakes, apples, oranges, ham and cheese. Ordinary families enjoyed "nilaga and suman" and other home prepared dainties.
My parents woke us up early and attended all the dawn masses (simbang gabi) and we had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the church. Fr. Santiago Blanco, a pure blooded Spaniard, was our parish priest. His booming voice can be heard from the altar to the main door of the church when delivering his homilies. Microphones and loud speakers were not in use then. The Gopez sisters, aunties of Francisco G. Nepomuceno, composed mostly the choral group with Memeng Tadeo, father-in-law of Senator Lito Lapid as the male vocalist, and my late sister Zenaida was the female lead.
On Christmas day, as early six in the morning, we donned on our well pressed clothes and we visited our relatives and the "ninongs and ninangs." Before lunch time, if I had enough money for fares and movies, off to the theaters in nearby Angeles. And before dusk I was home, and my celebration of Christmas was over, and will look forward for the next year.
In this day and age, Christmas entirely took a very different meaning, more so with the pandemic raging. Senior citizens are victims of this modern day and digital age. Their movement restricted by government guidelines. I no longer wake up early mornings for the dawn masses. (Minimum health protocols are observed. Only 30% occupants will be accommodated) I no longer prepare Christmas cards to greet kins and friends. I greet them with the very impersonal text messages with accompanying giphy. I part now with my money, not to young carolers from our neighborhood singing "The first Noel," Jingle Bells and Silent Night, but put in the cash in envelopes and never see the faces of the recipients. For whatever, we are always big on Christmas.