With only over two weeks to go before the much-awaited holiday of Christmas, already it looks like Christmas all over town, with the lighted parols and belens along the streets proclaiming the celebrations, initially, of Pasko sa V. Rama, and now, Pasko sa Colon and Pasko sa Osmeña Boulevard. These should help offset the current disturbing political strife and surfacing investigations of malfeasance in local and national government. So for this week, we look back in Philippine history to a couple of literally earth-shaking events, of which, surprisingly, as I started writing this yesterday, no mention has been made by our normally watchful media.
The day before yesterday, Dec. 7th in 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, now observed in the U. S. as Remembrance Day. For those of us who remember that far back, it was a distant geographical news event. Until the Japanese occupied the Philippines the next day, Dec. 8th, signalling for us the start of our involvement in World War II. And it was only after the States dropped that memorable atom bomb on Hiroshima that the Japanese were eventually defeated, World War II ended, the States granted us our independence on July 4, 1946, and the Republic of the Philippines was established.
Dec. 8th, yesterday, was significantly, especially for our predominantly Catholic nation, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holiday of obligation for Catholics.
While we observe the significance of dates, and in anticipation of Christmas, last Dec. 7th was the Feast of St. Nicholas. He was a 4th-century bishop in Asia Minor, is a patron saint of Russia, revered as a protector of children, who secretly gave to others, and was a helper to those in need. He is a prototype of the children’s Santa Claus who is supposed to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve when everyone is asleep, to fill the stockings the children have hung out for him, for them to discover when they awake on Christmas Day. I suppose his riding a sleigh drawn by reindeer as they come in through the snow from the North Pole completes the children’s concept of Santa (Ho! Ho! Ho!) Claus. While the evergreen Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights (topped with a star and hung with Christmas gifts) is an American practice from the mid-1700s.
Hmm-mmm… we Filipinos have added the belen either under or beside near the tree.
Which leads us on to the subject of now cropping up all over town. The first I attended was the traditional Aboitiz annual Christmas party for media held Friday last week, Dec. 2nd, at the newly opened Harolds Hotel. After the opening welcome message from President and CEO Eramon Aboitiz of the Aboitiz Group of Companies, dinner followed and a video showing Aboitiz’s involvements. This year there was Trivia Night emceed by Carol Go and Sam Constanilla. There were guessing games galore for media, supposed to be in on news in entertainment, the theater, movies, music, and even in math, Philippine and Asian history with some questions on Greek mythology and some answers to be written in Roman numerals!
Then topping the program was a Recycled Runway show featuring the informal, to mod to formal getup, but with a difference: all in recycled stuff, the formal evening gown in plastic cut from like black plastic garbage bags, pants and jacket from white rice bag containers printed with red trademark names, many jackets and short pants from woven plastic material in color, and for the current rain weather, an umbrella of vari-colored woven plastic bag material… all strutted in light flippancy! The much awaited raffle of many gifts at the end were climaxed with three main and three secondary gift prizes. The first gift prize everyone was eyeing was a small refrigerator filled with groceries and food products. This Bystander, often never a winner at raffles, got the second prize, also of groceries and food products. But some years ago, I won a Samsung TV. Well, some years are lucky, while some years are not, I supposed.
Then last Saturday, Dec. 3rd, I attended an On-the-Spot Children’s Painting Contest held at and hosted by Montebello Villa Hotel in partnership with Cebu Artists, Inc.(CAI). It was participated in by children aged 4 to 6, submitting 40 entries in various art media, from nine participating schools on the theme “Christmas in Philippines.”
Entries were judged with 50 percent for visual impact; 30 percent for composition; and 20 percent for relevance for relevance to the theme. Judges were Gregorio Borromeo Cancio Jr., president and GM of Montebello; Rosebud Sala, art collector and connoisseur; Guido Lubango, Remy Rault, and Celso Duazo Pepito, all CAI members; and Artist Sonia Yrastorza, CAI president. All winners portrayed the elements of Christmas in the Philippines: the nativity, the three magi, and the star that led them to the manger.
The musical program held before the announcement and awarding of winners featured a striking hand mime of “The Prayer” performed with lights out by dark-costumed members of SOS Children’s Village, with only their glowing luminescent hands performing.
Winners proclaimed at the main lobby by the Christmas tree were: first prize to 10-year-old Therese Martinez of the University of San Carlos-BED-SC, second prize to 12-year-old Koreen Rodriguez and third prize to Raili Ann Kapuno of St. Theresa’s College. Consolation prizes were won by 12-year-old Katrina Veloso of Bright Academy, 12-year-old Dave Padilla of Zapatera Elementary School and 11-year-old Kris Castanares of Golden Gate Children’s House.
Two other events, the San Miguel Christmas Party for Media held at the Cafe Laguna, and our monthly meeting of Curta (Cebu United Radio and TV Artists ((CURTA) Inc. will be in my report next week.
Till then, as always, may God continue to bless us, one and all!
Christmas in Philippines