December 2020

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - December 3, 2020 - 12:00am

If the pandemic were not here, December would have been greeted with much more enthusiasm and excitement.

Christmas, one of, if not the biggest feast celebrated by Catholics and Christians, is the reason for the festive December season. There are the presents and decorations, the lanterns and the lights, and oh, the Christmas sales in various malls awaited by many!

The Simbang Gabi is a tradition as well as a devotion millions look forward to. Then the reunions, the parties in December that end till after the January Sinulog in Cebu!

December 2020 is more sober, more subdued, unusually quiet compared to previous years. How can one even celebrate knowing the killer virus is still around, that it can strike anyone, anywhere, any time?

No one wants to be caught off-guard. Many prefer to continue to follow the protocols: wearing of face masks and shield, keeping distance while out, and, washing one’s hands after returning home. Seniors especially are constantly reminded to better stay home and stay safe.

Schools and offices take a long break every December allowing families more occasion to be together, travel together, do activities together, exchange gifts, hug and embrace each other.

The pandemic is not even allowing families to be families. Hugs and embraces are limited, reunions a present everyone wishes to have more of this season. Travel or even just simple mobility, a precious gift to wish for.

December 2020 will be more difficult to hurdle, more so and more especially for those threatened not only by the virus but for those who have been victims of recent calamities- typhoons, floods, fires.

The disasters may have passed but lives have been completely changed by these.

A number, sadly, have lost family members. They have no more homes to return to. No livelihood to depend on. Nothing left but themselves. While grateful to still have their breath, their life, how many of them in this situation have thought or are still thinking whether there is any value left in staying alive?

For these disaster victims, Christmas this year will surely be painfully tormenting. Can they muster enough faith and hope to see beyond the ruin and the loss wrought by yesterday’s disasters? Can they stay alive today, tomorrow? Can they even remember God in the midst of their woes?

Even just a little rain can revive the stress and the pain brought about by not just one but several typhoons. Until now, there are still so many places under water or on guard against any possible rise in water level harmful to residents.

Life has not returned to normal. Will life ever be normal for many of them? Relief services have come and gone. Now, a number of them are asked to start rebuilding their homes, rebuilding their lives. Can they?

Filipinos are likened to the bamboo that sway with the strong winds and survive. Their belief in God has also been observed to be a strong factor for their resilience.

We are cautioned against romanticizing the resilience of a broken people. Dr. Mahar Lagmay of the UP-Resilience Institute wrote: “Resilience must not be abused. Being resilient does not mean ignoring the roots of risks and vulnerabilities.”

Scientists have pointed to “unabated quarrying and logging in the Sierra Madre mountain range and other mountainous areas in Luzon” and “the degraded condition of watersheds upstream the Marikina-Pasig and Cagayan rivers that contributed to the disastrous flooding during Typhoon “Ulysses” that devastated communities in Marikina City and in the provinces of Rizal and Cagayan.”

This December 2020, to honor the disaster victims, let us protest and denounce the greed and bad governance that have caused disasters that wrecked the lives of so many.

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