Filipinos have a reputation for being resilient to hardships. This quality can be traced back to the time of the Spaniards to the present. Perhaps this is because the average Filipino has, through the years, developed attitudes that allow him to still look at the bright side of things. Amidst the political conflicts coupled with the economic crises of the country, his optimism is unwavering in the sense that he still lives his life with a smile on his face, a song in his heart and a joke ready on his lips. This is especially apparent during the Christmas season, when houses and streetlamps are decorated with Christmas lights and parols. However, this year that is not the case. This year, our resiliency will be tested with a simple question: “How will we spend Christmas after Ondoy?”
Last September 26, typhoon Ondoy (or Ketsana in other countries), devastated Manila. It is said to be the worst typhoon this year, judging by the extent and amount of damage to property and the lives it took, with a death toll of over 360 people. The aftermath, however, can be considered tremendous for those immediately affected, both psychologically and financially. Realizing this, the University offered its help by collecting donations, along with the individual efforts of each and every College to help the direct victims of Ondoy. While these have been helpful, the trauma and efforts required re-establishing routines and activities of daily living entail a longer adjustment period and continuous support from friends and family members.
In a few days, it will be Christmas; and yet, a lot of people would say it doesn’t feel that way. Normally, preparations for the holidays start during September and end midway November, so that come December, the decorations and Christmas trees are already up and lighted, with gifts wrapped and safely tucked away under the tree. However, this year, it seems like we have lost some of the Christmas spirit. There is an apparent lack of holiday cheer to go around because there are still people trying to rebuild and recover from the damage brought by typhoon Ondoy. While it is understandable given the unfortunate circumstances, it still makes for quite a frosty Christmas. Then again, perhaps it need not be that way after all.
Christmas stands for something more than just material things, it reminds us of our Savior’s birth. If we can recall, He was born in a stable, laid in a manger and surrounded by farm animals; humble beginnings not fit for a king and definitely not for the King of all Kings. But it is this simplicity, along with the charity of the barn owner, which should be remembered and noted during the Christmas season, especially now that we are still trying to restore our lives after the Ondoy tragedy. After all, we can do away with the bright (and sometimes musical lights), shiny decorations and expensive gifts; but acts of charity, love and friendship—these we cannot do without.