THE Venezuelan President, the fittingly named “Saint” Nicolas Maduro, declared earlier in November that starting this year, Venezuela’s Christmas season would kick-off at November 1.

The president did this unprecedented move with hopes of “making his country happy." And to make sure that this making-his-country-happy thing goes well and according to plan, he also created a new post within his Cabinet with the title, and this is true, Deputy Minister of Supreme Social Happiness.

I know, right? You people are right to say that the Venezuelans probably have the dazzling IQ of peanut butter. Come on! Are they nuts? We all know that you don’t start Christmas in November!

It starts in September!

Okay, maybe I flipped my anger switch too long, but it’s just true. Take our household for example. We set up our Christmas tree and Christmas lights during the first Sunday of September regardless of the weather.

This is nothing compared to our neighbor (and most of you) who display Christmas decorations and other paraphernalia the whole year round! Come May during typhoon season, anyone within a hundred yards around my neighbor’s house are in grave danger of catching flying lines of Christmas lights which if caught by someone’s neck, God forbid, causes a severe case of choking.

Christmas caroling too is starting to begin earlier and earlier every year. The earliest we had this year was on December 6, a Friday. This isn’t a big deal though because a simple search in will show you that Philippine caroling season starts in November!

The big deal is however, the Christmas carols that people are coming up with every year. I’m talking about Christmas carols that you’ve never heard before. One of the newest pieces I’ve heard this year is something with the lyrics:

“Merry Christmas to you. Merry Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas to you.”

This is sung to the totally new and creative tune of “Happy Birthday To You”. What’s ‘bwisiting’ about this is that it is commonly sung by old folk (usually barangay officials) and they sing it with all the excitement of a Pasyon reading on Biernes Santo.

The typical Filipino Christmas ends, of course, sometime in February along with the last of year-end parties. However, nephews and nieces still hunting for their absentee titos and titas for aguinaldo continues on until a one-day break sometime in mid-April when kids pause to look for the Easter Eggs and bunnies after which, back to hunting.

Asking for aguinaldo is still a mystery for me. I cannot remember an instance when I ever got one from my uncles and aunts. What I could remember though overhearing my cousins on many a Christmas day talk something like this:

COUSIN 1: “We caught Uncle Boy hiding at the sewer!”

COUSIN 2: “Break his legs! Don’t let him run away!”

So I guess it’s a pretty fun thing, that aguinaldo. My calculator tells me that if I ask for it now, I’d probably have a helicopter before February. If I ever find them, that is. Especially that I’m on hiding myself.

Back to the point: We also have our own Santas in disguise among us here in the Philippines giving early gifts like Manny Pacquiao with his most recent win, Miss Bea Rose Santiago and her Miss international crown, and senator Enrile’s Senate Christmas Bonus Bonanza.

Not only is Christmas in the Philippines early, even the New Year seems to be tagging along this trend. I’m talking about Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan who had been making noise early with his stand on totally banning the sale of fireworks in the city, calling for the people to find alternate ways of merry-making.

So, to help you, dear readers, avoid your yearly New Year celebrations from becoming total annual snooze fests, I am proposing two proposals for ‘alternate merry-making’:

A. Fill yourselves with booze and drown out the silence of New Year; and

B. Elect for a new position at the city council, specifically, the Deputy Councilman for Supreme Social Happiness.

The Deputy Councilman for Supreme Social Happiness will be leading the ‘Happiness Agency’ whose main responsibility would be to make sure that the citizens of Baguio maintain their happiness levels by rooting out ‘unhappitizing’ people out of the city such as old barangay officials singing really sad Christmas songs and killjoy city officials.

So, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! - From yours truly, running for Deputy Councilman for Supreme Social Happiness. (Cris Mongaling/Sun.Star Baguio)