Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sandataan - Justo 'Ve' J. Dellosa

Sandataan! It is December & again the officers and active members of the association are in a frenzy of preparation for the Annual Reception traditionally held every New Years’ eve. The Ballroom; the orchestra; the caterer have all been contracted. The ticket-invitations continuously distributed…
Ad solicitation is at its last phases; their contracts & texts in & articles for printing are compiled. The Souvenir program is ready to go to press.

This is the Sandataan of more than two decades ago when from its inception in 1934, it evolved from a tradition to an institution with primary objectives of promoting the Bicol culture, unity & harmony among Bacongnons and the Bicolanos, render assistance & support to all socio-economic, civic & religious activities and projects that uplift Bacon.

Sandataan is also a silent renewal of the vows of friendships and brotherhood among Bacongnons-a bond that linked them to one another.
A time to relax after a year’s labor, meet old friends; renew acquaintances; dance to old refrains-relive old and fading memories; perhaps rekindle flickering fires of love.
And from among the young new loves are born.

Old couples dancing to the favorite tunes of their youth –eyes lit with the fires of love.
Most of them are gone –departed from this world, others far & away. Age & distance renders them incapable of returning & sadly this old haunting poem
comes to mind:

“When I remember all
The friends so linked together,
I’ve seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather,
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet- hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!”

The old and departed worked so hard to preserve the precious heritage of Sandataan. Will our children & their children resuscitate this dying institution?

Hands of Justo Ve & Maria Isabel

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christmas 2006 & Season's Greetings - Jenny

How do we reconcile sorrow and human suffering with joy and exultation? How do we rationalize the strength-draining pain felt within because of losing loved ones and helplessness in the grim aftermath of a disaster, in contrast to celebration and jubilation? It is difficult to balance the contagious energy and euphoria brought by Christmas or this season as a whole, and the tragedy and grief just described by the preceding article. Could the devastation befallen our “kababayan” and other tragedies and turmoil around the world be an eye-opener to some, or may be to most of the citizens of the world? Let’s hope so, if only to emphasize how much torment there is already that any more affliction in any form and means would transcend human endurance; if only to move those concerned, those with authority and power to strive harder towards proper governance; if only to touch the hearts of those who propagate and perpetuate, blatantly or otherwise, the disregard of human dignity; if only to divert extreme materialism and consumerism towards global cooperation for the common good; if only to uplift the spiritual being of those who go about their lavish lives in reckless abandon. Odd, that such extreme devastation and agony be well defined during this holy season. Mindful of the core of this season’s festivity and the spiritual meaning that should take hold all of us, it might as well be.

We love Christmas; almost everybody does, around the world, including non-Christians and others, who may not even have a clue of why it is such a much-awaited celebration. We can only wish that we all truly realize the real meaning of it. However, it is comfortable enough that the contagious energy of jubilation and desire to please (therefore gifts, donations, food, etc.) is never collectively demonstrated at the highest level any time of the year except during Christmas.

Our manner of celebration varies, so do our expectations and notions. To most children and perhaps, to adults mesmerized by happy childhood memories, it’s not complete without the chubby, cookie-and-milk-loving old fellow in a red and white suit, joyfully distributing gifts in the four corners of earth, assisted by his reliable reindeers equipped with a speed, not one obtained from Krypton, but rather by some magical power replete with starry movement and musical sound. And the parade, the culmination of the status so gleefully crowned upon him. Nothing’s wrong with that, except that it becomes quite unsettling that some think Christmas is all about him---Santa Claus. It doesn’t help much either that he is made ubiquitous by almost every commercial venture whose goals could range from simply joining in the fun geared towards children, to the desire to capitalize from the drawing power of Santa Claus’ presence in their business establishments. Where else do you find him more and in such prolonged stay at that?

To others, it’s all about gift-giving, gift exchanges, therefore, shopping at different levels with varying intensity depending on the recipients and sometimes questionable purposes, regardless of screaming babies and toddlers in tow---to most, it’s a till-you-drop-dead race for time and advantage to just go all out shopping. Nothing’s wrong with that as long as the following month’s bills and statements do not become the dreaded incubus that could render them financially challenged. But guess who are happily drumming their fingertips against each other with wide grins as backdrop. Uhmm!

It’s a festivity never complete without the display of lights, indoor and outdoor, multi-coloured or not, LED or not, electric bill-shocking or not, roof-challenging or not, doubtfully electric fuse-friendly, not surprisingly gaudy at times for the tasteless arrangement of colours and movements, sometimes resembling some neon ads or décor of forbidden places mothers and wives would be concerned of; it doesn’t matter; much better even if seen in space where floating debris and satellites are probably amused. Nothing’s wrong with that, as long as there is no peeking to determine and outdo what the Joneses are setting up; as long as the whole neighbourhood will be able to cook, bake, do laundry and be warmed up; as long as firemen can also enjoy the holidays.

Others may do without such display of lights, but, would rather concentrate on ornament-laden trees, breathing or not, the top covered with the star or angel of good tidings; on wreaths, symbolic of a complete cycle of life, of continuous prosperity and happiness; on candles, the symbol of hope, scented or not, resplendent with surrounding holly, berries, pine cones, miniature gift boxes and other glittering ornaments, all intertwined and elegant; on mantels or fireplaces, decorated with dangling stockings, socks really, the bigger, the better to show how many gifts are actually wished and hoped for, prayed for or desperately aiming for, but then perhaps, they are just there for décor; on mistletoe, for those who are probably kiss-deprived, kiss-challenged, but, in all fairness, it could just be for fun or relatively, for those who really see it fit to be kissed or to kiss the special someone on such an important event, albeit lacking the courage to do so without something that could not otherwise be taken for anything but to invite or summon a kiss. Others yet long to enjoy the colourful lanterns (an envy to those in icy, snowy countries), all lit in the evening like a star, as was the scene it symbolizes that guided the Three Kings on that glorious night. Nothing’s wrong with all these as long as they are not financially challenging and they represent genuine, good intentions reasonably geared towards the spirit of Christmas.

Enter those who join in the celebration without knowing what exactly it is all about. You can’t blame them; nobody ever minded to provide the correct details. Nothing’s wrong with that as long as we welcome them like brothers; not to convert, but to share with, not to argue, but to assimilate and if appropriately called for, to provide for the missing details.

Enter the drama of the political pundits in some parts of the world---a required silence of any Christian or Catholic representation of the celebration, except lights and poinsettia perhaps, in some public or office environment, venue and what not, in order not to affect the sensitivities of other sectors of society with different beliefs; and yet, they have to have a party enjoyed by everybody during this time of the year. And it is called year-end party, which brings to mind a year-end audit or year-end accounting processes. Nothing’s wrong with that as long as restraint, decency, respect, tolerance and understanding prevail.

What about the Nativity Scene; Jesus in a manger attended by loving, caring parents, given homage by the humble? I want to see this in a parade to remind everyone of humility, not of pretentious generosity, of the divinity that should be more embodied in our homes and other places, not only in churches and religious gatherings. This is the centre of all manifestations, of the why, of the how and when. How often do we see this scene among the glitter and mixed activities? It has been trivialized perhaps, a reflection more likely of our priorities, of yet a distinctly different notion. Ah, but I saw them more in distant countries, more different than others perhaps, but, again with a distinction, one unlike places of milk and honey.

Nothing is amiss with all the gifts, with Santa Claus in a parade, with the display of lights and ornaments, with elegant décor, with parties, with some confusing political correctness, as long as there is harmony and peace, good intentions for everybody, decency, happiness and contentment; as long as those who know the real meaning of Christmas live up to its message, which can be embodied with decency and propriety, with humility and love for each other in the simplest of actions and words.

And this is Christmas, a celebration of life, of the Gift of Life that is Jesus, of our alliance with God, of our gratitude to God, of our love for one another, of our God-blessed expectations.

To all, a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and all the best wishes befitting the holiness of this season. May the unfortunate also find places in our hearts and prayers.