Undas over;  it’s Christmas and  New Year ahead

E CARTOON Aug 18, 2019It is the first Sunday in November after All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. Many Filipinos  have been looking forward to the Christmas season since the start of November, but have held back until these two feast days which make up the “Undas.” On these feast days, Filipinos travel back to their home towns in the provinces, visit the graves of their elders and renew their relationships in the old places, then return to their new lives in the big city.

With Undas now behind us, it is now —  for many —  essentially the Christmas season.  Every major street in Caloocan Ciy now has  traditional paper Christmas parols  and the other towns and cities in the country will soon have their own festive street decorations. Many homes are  now lighting their own  star lanterns, probably the most common Christmas  decoration in Filipino homes, including many in the United States.

Soon, giant Christmas trees will be lighted  in public squares  and in big malls nationwide. Pampanga is preparing its traditional giant lantern competition in San Fernando. Tarlac  is  having  its annual Belenismo, featuring  the Christmas Nativity scene with all its local variations. Churches will be lighted and schools and other organizations will be holding year-end parties and programs. Some homes will carry on their tradition of decorating the entire front to light up the whole  neighborhood.

For the country as a whole, this has been a busy and colorful year. It has had its share of difficulties and tragedies,  such as the recent earthquakes, water rationing, and traffic jams. But we have not had  war such as we experienced in  Marawi in 2017 and we  have not suffered from the months of high prices as we did in 2018.

The Philippines in 2019 also has not suffered war such as in Syria,  street fighting by angry citizens as in Hong Kong, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, and Iraq,  destructive forest fires as in the Amazon in South America and in California. We have our own problems in our country —  traffic, water shortage, breakdowns in the ranks sf some police forces, and corruption in some agencies of the government. But these are well within our competence and capabilities to handle;  they are minor compared to the violence raging in so many parts of the  world today.

And so we are now in the final two months of the year. The Undas was the year’s final observance tinged with a bit of sadness with the remembrance of departed relatives. We may still face many problems in our lives as individual Filipinos and as a nation, but overall it has been a good year, with outstanding achievements in international sports and beauty competitions.

We thus look forward with hope and joy to the celebration of this coming Christmas season of this year of our lord 2019. And then we move on with vigor  into the New Year 2020.