The year 2018 is ending on such a high note in so many ways.
After an entire year of steadily rising prices, the problem appears to be over. The seemingly endless series of deadly typhoons and storms appears to have ended, although there is still a cold front that will bring some rains to some parts of the country. “Simbang Gabi” filled churches to overflowing all over the country last Sunday.
The final days of the year for the House of Representatives and the Senate ended with continuing exchanges of charges of corruption in the preparation of the national budget, but these lacked the impact of exposes of old. The bitter debates over federalism and allegations of alleged political manipulations have largely been ignored.
And we have another international beauty queen – our fourth Miss Universe Catriona Gray of Oas, Albay.
It is the return of the Balangiga Bells that has dominated national attention and was welcomed by so many people. It was, first of all, a historic event — the return after 117 years of church bells seized as war booty by American soldiers in the Filipino-American War at the turn of the century.
At the official ceremony marking the return of the bells to the Balangiga church in Samar, President Duterte stood as one with the officials of the Catholic Church led by his spiritual adviser, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The President shook hands with the Papal Nuncio and other Church officials.
The President was all praises for the American government, for which he has had harsh words in the past. “The bells are returned and the credit goes to the American people and the Filipino people,” he said. The gesture of the American government “opens a new and vibrant chapter in the two countries’ bilateral relations.” It is a “milestone in the shared and meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines,” he said.
In a few more weeks, the year 2019 will begin and we hope the high and positive spirit we have seen these last few weeks will continue. We hope the government will be able to maintain the downward movement of inflation, resolve all problems over the national budget without the irregularities that marked previous budget deliberations and decisions, and come up with a decision on our Constitution around which the nation can continue to grow in freedom.
And we hope that we will have less of the animosity of the past in the government’s relations with some sectors of Philippine society and the world and more of the positive spirit that was shown at the ceremonies marking the return of the bells of Balangiga.