We are turning on our Christmas lights

Published November 21, 2020, 11:51 PM

by Manila Bulletin

New  distinctive  Christmas lanterns with 16  white rays   spreading out  from the center are now being installed  on streetlight posts in Manila.  Makati’s business district is now all lighted  up at night  by Ayala Land, an annual tradition.  Caloocan’s Christmas lanterns at the giant posts holding up  the elevated rails  have  lighted the city’s avenues for sometime now.

We have been hit by one disaster after another  in  recent weeks, but in spite of it all,  we are now seeing Christmas trees   standing in front of malls  and in public parks.   Many homes have set up their traditional  Nativity  Scenes  of the Baby in a manger, surrounded  by his parents  Mary and Joseph, while shepherds and  the Three Kings look on.

In less then a month, it will be Christmas in the Philippines,  the most cherished tradition in the country. It is  essentially a religious  holiday,  celebrating the birth of Christ,  but it also a nbig public  celebration.   And in this country –long known as  the only Christian country in Asia, until it was joined a few years  ago  by Timor Leste  —  Christmas  is welcomed comes as early as September and the celebration  continues until  Three Kings in January.

This has been a year  of disasters  like no other,  starting with the COVID-19 pandemic in March, infecting and killing  thousands and restricting all normal activities,  pushing  many  people deeper in poverty and the country into  recession.  Holiday  celebrations and religious traditions, among them town fiestas, Santacruzans, Holy Week, Independence Day,  Undas,  have had to be set aside. But we  have survived the COVID-19 pandemic much better than many other countries.

We have also just been hit by  a  series of storms and typhoons, floods and  earthquakes. But our spirit has not dimmed in the face of disasters; our people  have simply  built  back their destroyed homes and gone on with their lives.

The pandemic is still with us.  We  will  not immediately  benefit from the vaccines that have been developed; the richer countries with the  money  to pay for them will   get them first. Hopefully, we will get  our share  in  the middle of next year.

But  now it is the Christmas season,  a holiday that our people have been celebrating for over three hundred years.    In just three more weeks, we will have the Simbang Gabi. And nine days thereafter, it will  be  Christmas  Day.

We have survived  the worst effects of the pandemic, We will have Christmas to further sustain us.  And we will celebrate  it  with even more fervor this year.