Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All they need for Christmas is you

by Margret V. Basmayor

They can’t see anything. They hear a lot of noise, though – children crying, people screaming, a siren? They don’t know. All they know is that they’re stuck in this city of broken glass, dried blood and demolished buildings, to lay forever crippled and starving in this mess, and to stare at this pitch-black atmosphere, at this nothingness, where they used to work, play and dream. There are no glow-in-the-dark watches anywhere -- they couldn’t tell what time it is. It must have been about three days after the storm, but they feel as if a century has passed, and no superhero has come to the rescue. Maybe this is hell, or purgatory? (It is definitely not heaven.) Maybe this was a punishment for something they have done wrong? Will they ever see a ray of hope in this cloudy sky? They don’t know.
Our beloved country has suffered much and our citizens have been exhausted to the limit of their strength. The Zamboanga crisis where thousands of innocent lives have been claimed in vain; the pork barrel scam where the funds of country disappeared, stolen by people we trusted; the earthquake in Bohol which shook the islands of Visayas and shattered lives and buildings to dust; and Typhoon Yolanda, probably the strongest typhoon ever recorded, which finished us off and took what’s left of us. The Filipinos are good people: we work hard, we are loyal, and we are strong, compassionate, and loving. Is this what we get for being nice this Christmas?
The chilly winds outside told me that Christmas is coming. Indeed, it is drawing near. All those Christmas-themed TV commercials, midnight sales, parties, radio playlists, and the sheer excitement of the majority show that they are ready to welcome the season of Christmas. Is it alright if I admit that I don’t feel the same way? Reality check: people are still suffering and dying out there and all people can think about is that new iPhone they want for Christmas.
As the people who are still lucky enough to have decent roofs over our heads and blankets and hot chocolate to keep us warm, it is our duty not to feel their pain and suffer because they suffer, but to move for justice this Christmas. Christmas, after all, is all about giving and sharing what you have. Maybe we should rebuild the society instead of building a foreign cooking show-inspired gingerbread house and redecorating our homes with strings of colorful lights. To be a true Filipino does not mean you have to do something extraordinary to get the whole world to notice you. It means that you have to be there for your fellow citizens when they need you most. Filipinos are torches of blazing fire. Since some of them have gone out, why not relight them?
Our country has been attacked with challenge after challenge for the past few months. We have been threatened, but we have not been defeated. Some of us fell, some got hurt, but we are ready to nurse them back to health with the burning fire in our hearts. We share, we unite, and we give every ounce of love that we have to reconstruct our nation. This is Christmas 2013 in the Philippines.

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