Ah, to be Filipino. No other time of the year clarifies this term better than the Christmas season. Tis’ the season for giving indeed and to be Filipino is to take the initiative to remind people of this fact.
To be Filipino is to wish people a “Merry Christmas” with an open palm extended out. No, coming from a Filipino, an extended hand with the palm facing the sky is not a gesture prompting a handshake. Not at all. It is more a gesture calling for the extendee to be generous in the spirit of the season. Nothing wrong with that except, often, you will hear it coming from people whose job it is to serve the public. So when a Filipino police officer on a street or customs officer at an airport wishes you a “Merry Christmas”, think about the spirit of the season in the context of what it means to be Filipino. That way you can be allowed to move a long and be on your way a lot sooner.
Make sure also that you make good on your commitment to fulfill the nine days of Simbang Gabi (Christmas dawn masses). Tradition says that doing so will grant you a wish. Here’s a good motivational tip for the non-morning people amongst us who desperately need a wish granted: There are lots of chicks who go to Simbang Gabi. So take a shower and wear your Sunday best. Do listen to the mass at least. Fiddling on your phone during a mass is quite unclassy and will reveal a lot about your upbringing.
Christmas, being on the last week of the last month of the year, is also a good time to reflect on the past 12 months. What have we learned over the last 12 months? Good news: 2014 offers Filipinos a lot of lessons — that Philippine Congress is a den of crooks, that Filipinos remain hung up about being ruled by America for almost 50 years, and that deaths in the multi-thousands resulting from typhoons can actually be prevented given enough will and preparation. Hey, wait, but those are just three lessons! Indeed. But they are three big lessons. To be Filipino is to suffer massive learning disabilities at a national level; which is why picking only three big lessons coming out of a year is important, because three is about the most number of lessons that Filipinos’ brainspace can handle.
The coming years are also election campaign years. This means the who’s-who of presidentiables and senatoriables will be top-of-mind for Filipinos. Presidents and senators, after all, matter in the Philippines — because progress is not a bottom-up initiative here but, instead, driven by the “reform” agenda of the country’s tiny elite of rich and powerful. 2015 will therefore be the year of the grandstand. Epal-ing politicians and their mudslinging detractors will dominate the news. To be Filipino is to happily eat all of that up.
As Filipinos, we pride ourselves in the “unique” way we celebrate Christmas. Iba talaga ang Paskong Pinoy one will hear many Filipinos say wistfully — specially those snowed under somewhere in Canada. The 25th of December is really the culmination of four months of Christmas season in the Philippines starting at the dawn of the first “ber” month in September. That’s four months of opportunity to avoid the Christmas rush. But the rush sets in just the same, so monstrous traffic jams also become part of the whole Paskong Pinoy thing. Indeed, it is why the fact that Christmas is a good time for reflection is relevant particularly to Filipinos — because there is lots of time to do that while stuck in traffic.
To be Filipino is also to put importance in having a boyfriend or girlfriend to spend the Christmas season with. Gary Valenciano’s hit song Pasko na Sinta Ko started the notion that Christmas is not complete without a significant other to cuddle with during the “ber” months. Indeed, mere selfies no longer make us happy. Couplies are the in thing during the silly season. Make sure you have your clothes on when you take your next couplie, though. To be Filipino is to always be ready to smile for the cam.
Finally, this being really in essence a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, we must remember to at least spare a quick thought for our Saviour in between credit card swipes. He, after all, represents all the poor souls who may not be having as happy a Christmas as some of us. Ironic, isn’t it? We are celebrating the birthday of a man whose very essence represents the plight of people who are the least relevant in these days of exuberant consumerism. To be Filipino is to have that important irony escape us.
By the way, make sure you take this article and retweet if you are Filipino.
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