JUDGING from the numerous Facebook posts of people playing it, the “sandok pera” challenge is probably the parlor game of the year. I even saw FB friends abroad playing it, using green bucks of course. Technically, the utensil used is not a “sandok” but a “siyansi”, a flat cooking tool also called kitchen turner or spatula. The flat configuration makes it difficult to scoop the pot money. If there’s any lesson that we can get out of the game, it’s that getting money is not easy. You have to work hard for it. By the way, we played the game too. I won five hundred pesos but my wife was quick to confiscate my loot.

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Every year, the government measures air quality in Metro Manila during the New Year revelry to check the levels of air pollution brought about by fireworks. Last year, pollution levels went down by more than half due to quarantine restrictions. This year, I haven’t seen any report in the news or in the DENR website as of this writing. However, I read in the news that air quality in the capital worsened this Christmas season, reverting to pre-pandemic levels. That’s true. The traffic is back to 2019 levels as restrictions were eased. Because of that, I expect air pollution last January 1, 2022 to be worst too.

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Christmas parties and reunions were held left and right. Churches were jam-packed during the Simbang Gabi. Malls were filled with shoppers. It’s back to normal. And so from three digit-COVID 19 cases, it is now back to the 10,000 level. Hospitals are starting to be filled up with Covid cases. I was in Manila last Monday for a follow-up checkup. My doctor, who happens to be the hospital’s medical director, was on the phone discussing COVID preparations with his colleagues while attending to patients. He even warned me to be extra careful because of rising COVOD cases. The NCR, and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite and Rizal will be under Alert level 3 begining January 15. Pampanga is still on alert level 2 but we have to be careful too.

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This 2022, we have a very important decision to make as a nation. This is a game-changing year. We will elect our national and local leaders who will lead us in the next three years and six years. Please choose carefully and vote wisely.

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Luck is a matter of choice, not a matter of chance. This was the main message of the homily of our Parish Priest, Fr. Ivan Torno, in his New Year ’s Eve mass. Even if you have 12 round fruits on your table, a bowl of rice with money and eggs, or wear polka dots dress on New Year’s eve, your dreams and wishes will not materialize unless you do something to achieve them. And so this year, work hard and work smart to pursue your goals.

Happy New Year everyone!