Elections and Christmas

This was my column last Wednesday, November 25.

I meant to write about the arrival of the grandest circus of all—also called elections in the Philippines. Since last week, we’ve been bombarded with all kinds of amazing stunts such as instant and dramatic changing of political colors, major comedy acts, etc. I’ve taken note of the astounding feats achieved by many of our politicians in the area of logical acrobatics as well as of the incredible turnarounds—in some cases, complete 180-degree turns—in terms of what is being passed off as political ideology. There’s even a lot of drama of the soap opera variety that’s out there; not to mention the antics of the clowns that want to become president of the Philippines even if they have no party, no resources, no qualification, not even fare money to and from the Commission on Elections. It’s a grand circus, indeed.

However, commenting on the absurdity of the whole thing seems incongruous at this point given the fact that dozens were massacred in Maguindanao last Monday in election-related violence. There’s no way anyone can still make jokes about this election season when it has become obvious that many politicians out there will stop at nothing—not even mass murder—just to win or be able to stay in power.

It looks like the 2010 elections are going to be the most contentions in Philippine history. I was in Leyte over the weekend where, in a family affair, I got to meet education officials who told me that many teachers had opted or were opting to retire early—at 60 instead of 65 years old—just so they could escape election duties in May next year. If what we’ve seen in the last few weeks are concrete indicators of what is in store for us in the next few months as the campaign fever heats up, then we must all brace ourselves for tough times ahead. It will be interesting, at times exciting; perhaps even hilarious. But I fear that it will also be bloody.


Almost overshadowed by the elections frenzy is the advent of the Christmas season. Yes, it’s that time of the year once again. For most of us in the corporate world, this means gift lists and endless Christmas parties. We all know Christmas parties have become elaborate affairs that require weeks, even months of planning.

Just to illustrate just how complicated Christmas parties have become in an era characterized by extreme consumerism and concern for political correctness, I am reprinting below an email that totally cracked me up. Hopefully it produces the same effect on you. It’s supposed to be a series of company memoranda sent through e-mail. Enjoy!

FROM: Patty Lewis, HR Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: October 1, 2008

RE: Gala Christmas Party

I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along. And don’t be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets. This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

FROM: Patty Lewis, HR Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: October 2, 2008

RE: Gala Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on, we’re calling it our “Holiday Party.” The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment. Happy now? Happy Holidays to you and your family!

FROM: Patty Lewis, HR Director

TO: All Employees

DATE: October 3, 2008

RE: Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, you didn’t sign your name. I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, “AA Only,” you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody? And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy. REMEMBER: NO GIFTS EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED.

FROM: Patty Lewis, HR Director

To: All Employees

DATE: October 4, 2008

RE: Generic Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work? Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men’s table. To the person asking permission to cross-dress, the Grill House asks that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about confusion in the restrooms. Sorry. We will have booster seats for short people. Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in the food . The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure taste a bite first. There will be fresh “low sugar” fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the restaurant cannot supply “no sugar” desserts. Sorry! Did I miss anything?!?!?

FROM: Patty Lewis, HR Director

TO: All F*%^ing Employees

DATE: October 5, 2008

RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party

I’ve had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the “grill of death,” as you so quaintly put it, and you’ll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They scream when you slice them. I’ve heard them scream. I’m hearing them scream right NOW! The rest of you f*%^ing weirdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a rotten holiday! Drive drunk and die,

FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting HR Director

DATE: October 6, 2008

RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party

I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery and I’ll continue to forward your cards to her. In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay. Happy Holidays!


As my nontheist friends would say: A Happy Winter Solstice to you too, Bong XD

Yeah I know it's a mouthful, but it does cover all the important religious holidays of the season without any bias.

Unless the person you're talking to is anti-intellectual, then I'm out of ideas.

You might wanna try that greeting at the office.

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