“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

Christmas in Borongan

Atty. Ceferino Baquilod

By Atty. Ceferino Baquilod

For the past few years, despite my preference for the big city like Manila or Quezon City as my place of abode, I have always opted to spend Christmas in Borongan. This provincial city is home to me. This is where I had my formative, childhood years. Also, this is where most of my friends and relations, and batchmates are.  Truly, there is no place like home, specially for someone like me who had been away in a foreign land for decades.

Among the Christmas ‘favorite things’ I missed while I was away in another country, was caroling nights. As a child I would always get excited whenever ‘ber months’ came around. It meant Christmas was near and my friends and I would soon go house to house singing carols. Before it got too late in the night, our plastic bags would be filled with candies and other goodies and our pockets would be jingling with coins, all from the more generous homes we caroled. Every now and then some would tell us ‘utang la anay’ and it was mostly ok with us. Such was our joy and happiness.

Nostalgic

Nowadays, I feel nostalgic at the sight and sounds of little kids singing on our front door during ‘katsarit. They bring back a lot of happy memories when as innocent little children, we would gather together as soon as night came and get ready to sing Christmas carols.  Today, I think some kids have become overly creative. They would group together, call themselves a band and unceremoniously beat up empty cans they call their drums, and attempt to sing by screaming out so loud and so unmelodious that you can hardly tell the song they are singing.

There are those though, specially older ones, who truly come prepared, with a repertoire of familiar songs, and with harmonized angelic voices that leave you joyous and inspired. The songs give you chills and make you feel the true spirit of the season.  Not so long ago, we were serenaded by a group that sounded so good that my sister asked them to come into the house and make more music. She got so carried away, she played our piano with them.

In the few days past, I have seen how people have been so engrossed with preparations for Christmas. I have witnessed the excitement of some friends over decorating their homes, putting up lights and tirelessly shopping for gifts and food for the holidays. A day after I set foot in Borongan, I attended at least one Christmas party already and I know 2 others are about to happen too where I will be a part of. And it is not even the start of caroling nights. I have rehearsed Christmas songs with some people and we will be caroling in the coming nights. Letter/Requests to Carol have been sent and confirmed by a few and we will get real busy soon. Earlier on, back in Manila, I took part in an outreach program organized by my lawyer friends, where we fed underprivileged children. We brought gifts for them too. These and more make my Christmases truly memorable, fun-filled and purposeful.

Early Christmas Gifts for Seniors

The recent announcement by Mayor Dayan Agda that the city government will give social pension to all other seniors not currently recipients of this benefit from GSIS or SSS, is welcome news to all beneficiaries and is indeed an early Christmas gift to them. We have heard and read about certain issues involving the distribution of social pension and too many seniors feel aggrieved and unjustly treated. We all know that our national government has a limited budget for our elderly and therefore not all seniors can avail of the social pension. There had been accusations of favoritism and politics in putting together the list of the favored few who qualify. The mayor’s move puts an end to this problem and makes him endeared even more to our seniors and their families.

Terroristic Attacks

As I was writing this piece, news about an ambush by NPAs/terrorists in a nearby barangay (Liboton) that killed at least 3 that included civilians, headlined mainstream media. It should be recalled that months ago, in an interview, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Joma Sison ‘advised the New People’s Army (NPA) to continue with carrying out attacks to compel the government to resume peace talks’. There had been a few of these atrocious attacks, including some in Northern Samar and right here in our province. Some think that this, among others, caused the president to announce that he was reopening his peace talks with Joma Sison. But is Duterte really giving in to the demands of Joma Sison who wants to lead this country side by side with our regular leaders? I seriously doubt it. But we hope Duterte seeks the advise of people who truly love this country and respect its laws and the constitution.

Too Many Tremors

A lot of people wonder why there had been too many earthquakes in the country, specially in Mindanao recently. Some are quick to attribute them to the president’s calling God stupid and his disrespect for the Catholic faith. We should not however be judgmental. Only God knows why these tremors are happening and why mostly in Mindanao. We can only pray for His mercy that they don’t happen again or result in deaths and destructions.

Of course, self proclaimed son of god and owner of the universe, pastor Quiboloy’s claim that he can stop the quakes is one for the joke books. I believe I need not expound on this.

Merry Christmas

In the midst of all our Christmas preparations and activities, let us all be mindful that Christ has always been and will always be, the reason for the season.

One Christmas wish that we all need to make is for a better Borongan, a better country, a better world, where love, peace and prosperity abound all year round.

Maupay Nga Pasko Ha Iyo Ngatanan!

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