Balweg: Make new friends but keep the old

AS THE end of Year 2017 approached, many plans were whispered to my ears to spend the holidays in northern or southern Philippines. Of course, there was no sense refreshing them right there and there especially those with good intentions embellished with logic and the sense of the beautiful. Why should new trips to exotic destinations and repeat visits to long-long-time-no-see friends or neighbors be refused? Who am I to easily forget tasty nutritious foods not easily or at all found in my new year-in and year-out habitation? Not even was or the rumors of war could deter my initial positive response to seeing again places I saw and people I meet on the company of students going on field trips or with co-workers in the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and Arts).

But then, but then, not everything would go on as planned. “Man proposes but God disposes” was the reality as November-December came nearer and nearer. Invitation followed by request to confirm attendance to this or that affair followed one another. More strongly, there came the notices of weather disturbance by PAG-ASA, climaxed by deadly typhoons, albeit more in southern Philippines. Traffic commonly approaching jam had its toll in attendance of the traditional “Misa de Aguinaldo” or early masses in Catholic Churches.

But God has ways to compensate what we think we miss. Just like these: “In the thick of traffic slowdown or even jams, I found out I could pray the holy Rosary, and more of it. That was better than operating the cell phone. The traffic enforcer could not forbid the meditation and its verbal accompaniment. I was able to meet and interact with people in public utility vehicles or even at sidewalks. It was greater fun and blessing along the paths and unusually takes like the case last Monday evening. I do not usually pass by the sacristy area of the Baguio Cathedral but last Monday, 5:50p.m., I did, only to come across one I longed to meet for the previous days. In pure white polo barong and Igorot twang, he offered his hands in New Year greeting. I got important information I had expected from him regarding our movement for Cordillera regional autonomy. He was an authority as regards the set-up and status of the Cordillera Executive Board of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), a partner of the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA). By the way, as regards of my attendance at the Cathedral, it was done to assuage my disappointment at being unable to reach the mass at the midnight of the 24th. But by beyond my intention, I was able to offer the Mass at this Jan. 1 evening for souls of the departed, particularly my demised spouse Sozima Ancheta Balweg, a retiree of the Baguio City National High School Main campus under the Principal ship of Madame Donaal as well as for our departed relatives vertical and lateral.

Other consolations I got in place of my unfulfilled plans where my attendance of the wholly entertaining Christmas prom of the CUBC (Cooperative Union of Baguio City). The tandem of chair “Angie” Gayadus of BAMARIVEMCO and former CUBC chair, now its VP, Engr.Susan Angaga of BAVESCO showed their ever new ways of presenting otherwise common wares like those of Christmas. My ward Jake Tuscano Bongaoen won the second major prize in the raffle for a cause, worthy gift for him who manifests bright future in computer operation.

Another main event during the holidays to which I was invited was one to which BARP President “Fred” Balanag convinced me to see with six other BARP board members. It was the 2017 annual get together of PRA (Philippine Retirees Association). Despite a threatening inclement weather, the spacious function room of La Azalea overlooking Teachers Camp was filled enough by a representation of PRA’s “five hundred thirty-four thousand” membership, if I got GM Bienvenido K. Chy right. (Someone must have carefully took for safe keeping “Tokayo” Bienvenido’s message notes handed to me through Emcee Erick, sorry indeed.) The presence, however, of foreigner members was very obvious. The GM’s rendition of two songs including one Elvis piece took participants’ attention amid the red drinks. His usual able light-tripping emboldened a Korean male to dance and dance to his heart’s content then asked for an award of “ten thousand.” President Balanag ,for his part, could have merited the award for an “early bird” had he not over-stayed with the Thailand-donated elephants at the Botanical Garden but which proved to be immobile cement and then misguided to the Newtown area instead of right away to La Azalea at Leonard Wood Road. What touched me much during this program was number given by the Breviarian Choir composed of new found friends: Aimee Melissa T. David, Angela Purita V. Trinidad, Dianne Kaye V. Trinidad, Christian Anne V. Trinidad, Gemariah Busacay, Amoriel Busacay, Rube Anne Manongod, and Alex Manongod –DZWT. They rendered the two common songs Hail Holy Night and Come All Ye Faithful in well-modulated uncommon ring of voice.

The final major event that dispersed my yearend dissatisfaction with unfulfilled plans was the near impromptu gathering of the CRSF (Cordillera Regional Security Force, Inc.) at a basketball covered court in Barangay P. Burgos. It was the only formal event among those I attended where the proud Cordi gong (ganza) sounded at the birthday of the Prince of Peace. As in two previous ones, Vice Mayor Edison Bilog was present to give special encouraging remarks in this occasion lecturer Pastor Peter Dumaging was given the limelight to explain his position the choice for Cordillera autonomy towards federalism to support President Duterte’s drum beating for Philippine Federalism. Congratulations to this year CRSF program organizers for the occasion!

Happy New Year to all Cordillerans as well as to all the peoples of this troubled world! Thank You SunStar Baguio
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