Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!
To our visitors and friends, welcome back to ManilaMail! Maligayang Pasko sa ating lahat!
Christmas this year comes on a Sunday, making this joyous holiday doubly blessed. While we keep hearing laments about how bad the country has been faring lately, many Filipinos still believe that with God’s grace, we will survive the corrupt and inept officials running the system.
Recent surveys of the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys have found that Filipinos are celebrating this Christmas with hope, and are optimistic about the coming new year.
We have also noted in ManilaMail/About/The Philippines at a glance: “With his country blessed with bountiful human and natural resources, the Filipino – hardy but graceful like the bamboo bending with the wind – is the eternal optimist ever trusting in the benevolence of his God.”
* * *
Our last “Postscript” published on Nov. 27 mentioned the medical issues bothering me and why I was to leave the media scene for a while. I was then undergoing a series of eye surgeries in New Jersey where I had been riding out the pandemic.
Still recuperating, this journalist at large is now back in Manila – escaping in the nick of time from the monster winter storm that slammed the US on Christmas eve, burying wide areas under thick snow, trapping motorists, causing power outages and disrupting normal life.
In Manila, most complaints are not about stormy weather, but the heavy traffic – especially during the pre-holiday shopping spree – and the insane prices of essential goods. Inflation in November surged to 8 percent year on year, faster than the 7.7 percent in October.
Some officials, apparently detached from reality or feeling duty-bound to project a positive outlook, claim that ₱500 (< $10) is enough for a typical household to prepare noche buena, a Christmas eve repast that many low-income families skip, moving it from tradition to oblivion.
Fortunately, even a clumsy administration is saved from the brunt of a dreary fiscal year by the substantial remittances of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) beating the clock to send Yule cheer to the folks back home.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has reported that remittances from land-based and sea-based OFWs rose by 3.8 percent year-on-year in September 2022 to $2.84 billion. That inflow accounts for some 8.9 percent of the gross domestic product.
The conspiracy to create, even just in the mind, a positive outlook has helped make this holiday in a dominantly Christian nation a truly Merry Christmas.
* * *
From Malacañang, meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sends this message:
“My warmest greetings to Filipinos all over the country and the world as we celebrate the blessed day of Christmas.
“The story of Christ’s birth has become an integral part of our culture and every year we have become more accustomed to commemorating this day with gatherings, thanksgiving and merrymaking. No matter the evolution of its observance, it is imperative that we emphasize the true essence of this holiday — love.
“It is this pure and simple love that Christmas represents – the same one that we constantly desire and need – that allows it to be more than just a Christian tradition. Across beliefs, all the generosity and goodwill stirred in this season are welcomed. Surely, embracing these will help us overcome the difficulties brought by the pandemic and other challenges.
“Let our spirits not dwell on the adornments that we display, on the buzz and activities we create, nor on the lack thereof. Instead, let us partake in this holiday with the same simplicity, sense, and meaning that we get from it.
“Let us freely offer our smiles, share a conversation or impart wisdom to our peers, our loved ones, and even strangers. Let our affection be known and felt in the simplest of ways so that the eternal message of the Nativity of Christ may again spark hope for a brighter future in the hearts of all.
“I wish everyone a Christmas full of love, compassion and hopeful beginnings.”