POSTSCRIPT / December 25, 2003 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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FPJ bid may just jolt us back to our senses

A CHILD’S DAY: Happy Christmas to all! Reserve the best of this blessed day for the children. Pamper them today. It’s their day.

Children who cannot have new dresses and shoes or loads of toys can still feel Christmas with a gift of true love, a warm presence, and the right attitude.

But love for a day is hollow. It is even cruel. A child must feel he or she is loved not only on Christmas and such special days, but every moment of every day of every year.

How is such love communicated? Parents know and would need no advice on how it’s done.

No child should cry today, be in pain, or go hungry at least this day. Spoil your kid and their friends.

If you have to deny yourself certain things just to make your child happy, do it. This is his or her day, as it is that of the Child Jesus.

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PRESSURE: If we may be allowed to go against the merriment and happy thoughts that suffuse this day… we deplore the unhealthy pressure that Christmas is made to exert on many of us.

Witness the throngs flocking to the malls during the few days leading to Christmas. The pressure to buy, buy, buy — triggered by marketing hype — detracts from the peace and quiet of Christmas.

We wade into traffic jammed all over the metropolis, the gridlock occasioned again by too many people pressured into going around to shop or run last-minute errands.

The frayed nerves, the air pollution and missed appointments spoil the blessedness of the season.

At the bus depots, grownups, children in tow, fight over the few and crowded buses that ferry them to the provinces. Who would enjoy such hassle, such pressure?

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COMMERCIALIZATION: The commercialization of Christmas robs the day of its real meaning. But there it is in all its blatant indecency.

Businessmen may be forgiven for trying to make a fast buck in the bustle of holiday shopping, but buyers have no excuse for allowing themselves to be victimized with eyes wide open.

We are saddened by the predicament of the less fortunate who must produce some money to buy a few items that they normally cannot afford just to get into the frenzy of gift-giving.

The resulting pressure all around arises from a distorted, materialistic view of what Christmas really is.

The sad thing is that pressure does not only kill, but also robs us of the peace and joy, also the fun, that supposedly comes with the birthday of Jesus.

How do we escape from the pressure? It’s actually all a matter of attitude, of mental discipline. Just don’t allow it, period.

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ELECTRIC SHOCK: Indeed, Fernando Poe Jr. is doing this suffering nation a favor by running for president in May 2004.

The actor could go a step farther by taking a TV-showbiz type for his vice presidential partner and packing his senatorial ticket with fellow entertainers and remnants of the old dictatorship.

The presidential bid of Poe, taking off from where his bosom friend Erap Estrada had fallen, might just provide the electric shock that would jolt this suicidal nation back to its senses.

This is if the forces girding for a showdown in May 2004 are able to present a stark delineation of their candidates and programs.

With product differentiation, voters should have an easier time choosing between Poe’s team and the other parties, notably that of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

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LAST CHANCE: The 2004 national elections are so critical that they could trigger the collapse of this battered republic if we elected the wrong officials or stained the integrity of the elections.

By May 10, 2004, Filipinos must have been educated and motivated enough to chose between serious governance and silly entertainment, between greatness and mediocrity.

Citing historical models, some political scientists suggest that what this nation probably needs is a civil war, or some kind of bloodbath, to cleanse itself and start anew.

We beg to disagree. This fragile nation cannot afford a civil war or some civil strife approximating it. The supposed cure might just kill the patient.

A revolution of sorts at the polls is a better alternative. We would much prefer a cataclysmic clash at the polls of two diametrically opposed forces.

This will require educating the masses on discernment and appreciating the value of their votes.

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NO MAJORITY: The casting aside of the American-type two-party system had made product differentiation among candidates and parties rather difficult. The confusion is compounded by politicians’ flitting from one party to another.

Many people have lost track of the constant change of party to the point that party labels have become generally irrelevant. This is one of the reasons why there is a widespread impression that politicians are all the same.

The proliferation of parties and coalitions has resulted in presidents lacking a majority mandate. In recent elections, the president has always won by mere plurality.

This has been a handicap of every president setting out to bind political splinters on his way to gaining consensus for more effective governance.

This time around, we hope to see a clearer delineation of candidacies, at least in the case of Arroyo and Poe.

Seeing the contrast, we hope the voter will be jolted into seriously thinking about his choice and how it relates to the survival of this nation.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 25, 2003)

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