Sanchez: Grinches of Christmas

CHRISTMAS came and went the other year. The biggest blessings, it seems, for Bacoleños was the good sunny weather, not too hot – and certainly not a chilly December.

But I can’t say the same thing for many parts of the country. Southern Negros Occidental experienced Signal 1 when Tropical Storm Vinta struck.

When the NGO Broad Initiatives for Negros Development (Bind) invited mountain farmers to a Christmas party, they swapped stories on Vinta’s strong winds. But most arrived safe and sound to enjoy the Christmas cheer of gifts and games.

Tropical Storm Vinta (international name: Tembin) struck Mindanao last Friday, hitting the country’s second big island as a tropical storm with gusts of 125 kph and torrential rains, demolishing out at least one mountain village and prompting a massive rescue operation over the weekend.

What a night before Christmas when people and animals were stirring in panic to escape the floods.

“For centuries, men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home,” says William Jewett Tucker, the 9th President of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA.

That was said in the early 20th century. In the 21st century, it seems the Grinch has come in the Philippines to steal the joys and happiness of Christmas.

We are now reeling from Vinta. But in 2012, we had Typhoon Pablo, considered the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the second biggest Philippine island of Mindanao. It made landfall as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 280 km/h, with 1,067 fatalities.

The year before in December 2011, Typhoon Sendong hit Mindanao, reaching 95 km/h at its highest winds, with 2,546 fatalities. Now we have 200 dead.

I totally agree with former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.”

What we might feel might not be what the saintly Pope has in mind. In this era of climate change, we reflect on future appointments with Grinches to make us all cringe.

As Catholic author G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate” victims of climate change.

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