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Hopeful in 2009

It’s New Year’s eve today. While it’s supposed to be a time for celebration, New Year’s eve becomes associated with fear and dread. On the night before the first day of the new year, we develop paranoia over dangers of stray bullets and wayward firecracker explosions that may injure us or even cause death. 

Although we may be inside the safety zones of our homes, there is no telling what will strike us from nowhere. Stray bullets can pierce through the roofs, or through the ceilings or walls. With the so-called “super lolo” and other high-powered pyrotechnics, it’s no wonder why so many people get maimed, or even killed by firecracker explosions. That’s why I still do not feel safe even at home while the New Year’s eve fireworks rock the night with boom and blast.

But at the end, the zest for celebration overcomes the fears for safety. You throw caution out and the heck with exploding firecrackers. Just cover your ears and be watchful and careful not to get into harm’s way. This way, we can celebrate New Year’s eve with the rest of mankind amid the firecracker explosions and other noisy merry-making. In my case though, I also have to contend with possible asthma attack because of the fumes and heavy firecracker smoke in the air. But that doesn’t also stop me from enjoying myself and celebrate New Year. I bought disposable sur-geon’s masks as protection against smoke inhalation.

The use of firecrackers and other fireworks to celebrate the New Year is a tradition we have inherited or influenced by our Chinese heritage. The noisemaking is said to be a way of driving away the evil spirits of the past year to start the New Year with a bang.

As per the Chinese calendar, the year 2009 is the year of the “earth ox.” The ox, or the bull, or the water buffalo is the counterpart of our Philippine carabao. It is the second animal in the Chinese horoscope of 12 animals that come in a cycle once in 12 years. Chinese fung shui experts I heard being interviewed over the radio yesterday cited the “Earth Ox” symbolizes stability.

From the general description of the Chinese zodiac sign, “those born under the influence of the Ox are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task or an objective. As we used this great creature long ago as our beast of burden, so do Ox people labor through their daily responsibilities either at work or at home without complaint or gripe. Oxen know they will succeed through hard work and sustained effort and find no truth or benefit in concocting get-rich-quick schemes.” I was told the Chinese New Year, usually celebrated in February, comes in earlier in 2009, specifically it falls on Jan. 26.

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Amid the threats of the global financial crisis that might adversely affect the Philippine economy in the immediate future, the symbolism of stability in 2009 as the year of the ox augurs well. The Chinese numerology regards “9” in 2009 as a very good number, being the highest numeral from one to zero.

As far as the Chinese numerology is concerned, “9” is not only a lucky number but is also a “magic” number. It is “magic” because it is the only number that when multiplied by another number, its sum is also equal to “9” when added together. Here is why it is so: 9 x 2=18 (1+ 8=9); 9 x 3=27 (2 + 7=9); 9 x 4=36 (3 + 6=9); 9 x 5=45 (4 + 5=9); all the way to 9 x 9=81 (8 + 1= 9). Now you see why it is regarded as a “magic” number.

Nine out of 10 Filipinos are welcoming the New Year filled with hope if we are to believe the results of the latest quarterly opinion survey done by the Ateneo Social Weather Stations (SWS). Last Monday, the SWS released the results of its Fourth Quarter Social Weather Survey that showed an overwhelming majority of Filipinos are facing the year 2009 with so much hopes for the New Year. From the SWS survey, nine out of 10 (92 percent) respondents composed of adult Filipinos are entering 2009 with hope rather than fear.

The SWS noted the survey results were similar to the 91 percent posted in 2006 and in 2007. It said that surveys from 2000 to 2004 showed New Year hope ranged from 81 percent to 95 percent. Further, the SWS cited that hopes for the coming year are also high across socio-economic classes — 92 percent among the middle to upper classes ABC, 92 percent among the masa D class, and 90 percent among the very poor class E. From the same survey, the SWS also said that among the 63 percent who expected a happy Christmas in 2008, 95 percent are entering the coming year with hope. It noted, however that even among the eight percent who expect a sad Christmas, as many as 76 percent look forward to 2009 with hope.

While most Filipinos are meeting the New Year with a lot of hopes, we shall see greater manifestations of this among the so-called presidential hopefuls who have already cast their respective bids for the May 2010 elections.

For now, the presidential hopefuls who have already declared their intentions in 2010 include the likes of Senators Manny Villar, Loren Legarda, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando, and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay. On the other, Vice President Noli de Castro, Sen. Chiz Escudero and deposed President Joseph Estrada are still coy about their true intentions whether or not they would join the May 2010 presidential derby.

Although these presidential hopefuls have been posturing already, President Arroyo has signaled that she should not be counted out yet in the power equation even as 2009 enters. From all indications, Mrs. Arroyo has clearly sent out words through her allies pushing for Charter Change she won’t be marginalized and reduced to being a “lame duck” Chief Executive in the remaining 18 months of her term.

Amid the global financial woes that threaten to inflict its harm on the Philippine economy, she is telling us she intends to keep her administration’s gains intact while we all brace for the worse, but hope for the best this New Year.

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