It 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.