Monday, December 20, 2010

Being Mr. Scrooge

This was my column on the date indicated above.

On the same week that Hubert Webb got acquitted, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos got vindicated and got some sequestered properties back while the case against Hayden Kho was dismissed purportedly because it was impossible for Katrina Halili - one of many girls who got victimized - not to have noticed that a camera was recording the whole thing.

I’ve always been ambivalent about the Webb case because I didn’t – couldn’t – buy the theory that the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case was caused by the influence of former Senator Freddie Webb. There’s only so much influence can do in this country particularly when media attention is focused on a case. Besides, it’s not as if Lauro Vizconde didn’t have influence as well.

The former first lady continues to maintain that her family did not steal the government and the Filipino people blind during the Marcos dictatorship. She said that the Olot Tolosa property in Leyte that was returned to her recently had been part of her family’s inheritance– all those hectares including a picturesque hill fronting a beach and a 17-room mansion.

Hayden Kho has been deodorizing his image in the last few months, capitalizing on his good looks and the resources of his benefactor.

Around the same time, as well, our leaders couldn’t agree on whether it was to our best interest that our ambassador boycotted the awarding ceremonies of the 2010 Nobel Prize. Actually, they couldn’t agree on whether we simply snubbed the affair or boycotted it. And worst, no one, it seems could formulate a justification that had a semblance of logic in it.

Meanwhile, some of our congressmen are hell bent on wrecking more havoc to industry by insisting on measures that supposedly will protect workers but in reality will only make things more difficult for this country to generate jobs. Ideologues railroaded a hearing of the Committee on Labor at the House of Representatives called for the purpose of consolidating various bills meant to protect security of tenure. If the proposed bill gets passed, and I am fervently hoping that it won’t, we can expect more difficult times ahead.

And these, my friends, are just some of the things we have to contend with as we approach Christmas.

***

There was a time when I couldn’t wait for Christmas. My grandmother who was so big on the holiday season would insist that we would put up Christmas decors as early as November and would only take them down sometime first week of February. I don’t remember anymore the religious significance of the first week of February but my grandmother was fully convinced that the season lasted until then. I didn’t think it was my place to argue given that I did like the festive air that all those tinsels and trimmings brought.

Christmas came late for me this year. It cannot be just because I am older, or have become cynical because as my friends would kid me, I was born “old” and cynical anyway. Not that I didn’t want to feel the spirit because despite the drain on one’s financials, there really is nothing quite like imbibing the spirit of giving and sharing. Just that I really didn’t feel “Christmassy” up until a few days ago. And truth be told, I had to work myself up to get into the spirit of things. The last two months were particularly trying and tiring as I had to manage a political campaign while coping with the added demands at work. For the first time in many years I even forgot about submitting a column for last Wednesday!

It didn’t help that the “early” Christmas parties that I went to had themes that really didn’t bring on the cheer. One required guests to come in military-inspired attire while two others had the same theme: white Christmas. Being snappy and sterile didn’t do wonders for the tired soul; mine in particular.

Needless to say, one’s emotional state affects the way one perceives the environment.

Is it just me or has the traffic situation really gone bonkers this holiday season? Traffic was particularly horrendous last Friday evening as almost everyone seemed to have been on the road shuttling from one party to another. I got stuck for almost three hours on Buendia Avenue while on the way to Greenbelt for a get-together with friends—that sure did wonders to my mood. And I wasn’t the last one to arrive; a friend who came all the way from Quezon City staggered into the restaurant at half past midnight hungry, tired, and in a really foul mood greeting all those assembled: “I must love you so much to have braved all that traffic to get here!”

A friend observed that the monstrous traffic must also be caused by the fact that there are just too many cars on the road. She said that sales of cars have been on a steady upward trend in the last few months. I don’t have data to support my friend’s claim but I know a few friends who bought new cars in the last three weeks so there must be some grain of truth to her assumption. I do know that certain cars are no longer manufactured in the country —we import them from our neighboring countries where labor costs are cheaper and where governments make it easier for investors to do business.

The lines at malls have become longer because we are told most people are descending on the malls late—as in a few week’s late. Apparently it’s not just me who has been grappling with the late onset of the holiday cheer. I’ve even noted that Christmas presents are also being delivered late—if at all. Hopefully, it’s also because people are donating more to charitable institutions like many senior officers in the Bank that I work for did; we all agreed not to exchange gifts but to donate instead to charity.

Certain things are inevitable, of course. It is difficult to ignore Christmas not just because everyone makes an effort to remind you of it but because when we really come down to it, it represents at its most basic essence, what the world really needs more of: Hope, faith, love, sharing.

It’s not too late to get into the spirit of the season. Merry Christmas, everyone!

No comments: