And that’s a wrap, 2020

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2020 - 12:00am

Exactly a year ago today, I was 3,506 kilometers away from Manila, in ice-cold Harbin ushering with grace and gratitude the new year.

The thermometer read -28 degrees Celsius, as if we went inside a giant freezer, but I felt the warmth of being with loved ones in China’s northernmost province. We laughed to our hearts’ delight and welcomed 2020 with excitement.

But we didn’t imagine the new year would be one of the most difficult years in our lifetime.

Oh 2020, what a tough year you were and nothing prepared my heart and mind for the challenges you would bring – disaster after disaster, heartbreak after heartbreak, death after death, nightmare after nightmare, the anxiety, stress and difficulties, the unbearable pain of unending grief and sorrow.

This nation of 107 million

We’ve had to face seemingly insurmountable challenges this year, made more difficult by many of those in power. I share the lament of many – that feeling that throughout the year, we felt mostly alone, left to fend for ourselves by our incompetent leaders and health authorities.

It was difficult to see the sorry state of this nation of 107 million – how low our public consciousness has fallen; the lack of sensibilities among the powers-that-be, and a population who just takes it all – incompetence, corruption, madness and what-have-you.

The worth of 2020

But amidst all these, I will choose to look at the worth of 2020, far beyond the adversities.

I would not be looking for rainbows after the rain, but I will celebrate the strength of the human spirit which I witnessed throughout the year.

I’ve seen how we all fought our battles bravely, how we survived and shouldered on despite being tested to our limits. Individually and as a society, we survived and gave the year the biggest fight we could ever give.

And for this, I am grateful and I am mighty proud to stand with every man, woman, and child in this war we were all forced to face.

I honor the frontliners most of all, the many unsung heroes, our tireless health workers; my colleagues in the media who lost their jobs; the OFWs I helped fetch in Beirut who went home to uncertain lives, and hundreds of other displaced OFWs from all over the world; tycoons who had the capacity to help and did; friends who lost loved ones, and to loved ones I, too, lost along the way.

I’ll pop the champagne bottles tonight with grace and gratitude, not because the year is over but mainly because as a nation we did not give up, difficult as it was. We are still here – weary, tired and battle-scarred, but fighting on.

Like a lot of people I know, I cried buckets of tears this year for everything that’s happened to me and around me but the year also showed me, that in the darkest moments, the truest, kindest and bravest souls will hold your hand and face the war with you.

This, indeed, is the worth of 2020 – that we stood up from every fall and shouldered on. Let our wounds remind us that the human spirit is stronger than the battles we faced.

We can’t end the year just looking at how tough the year was. Instead, let’s look at 2020 for everything it gave us – the lessons, the realizations about our leaders and our society, the new learnings about ourselves, and the strength to carry on to make our lives more meaningful.

With the lessons and together with what and who truly matter in our lives, let us create new memories, dream new dreams, carry on and embrace the beautiful light of the morning as it seeps through our hearts.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and meaningful 2021!

Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

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