Are Filipinos Easter people?

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

The Easter greetings I received last Sunday were the most that I have received in many years, and were more profound and meaningful. I believe it must be because of the COVID pandemic situation we are experiencing. Last year’s Easter was also already during this pandemic, which we thought will not last this long, so it must be the emotional and mental conditions of most people now that makes this year’s Easter more hopefully meaningful. After a year of many lives lost, livelihoods devastated, and altered lifestyles, the beginnings of hopelessness and despair are palpable. The shared need to boost and greet each other with hope for a recovery, rebirth, resurrection, and redemption is most welcome this Easter.

Easter Sunday is a Christian festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after he died after his crucifixion on Good Friday. With very few exceptions, all Christian religions celebrate this movable feast. The Catholics particularly have specific rites for this season, beginning with the passion of Jesus up to his resurrection. Other Christian religions have less rituals but all acknowledge his resurrection and redemption.

In the past 14 months, keeping abreast with what has been happening all over the world in all media, it seems all is not well with the world. There is the raging COVID pandemic that has been recurring and killing people in almost all geographic areas, and the economic repercussions that have spawned massive unemployment and poverty. There are politically-driven tragedies in Ethiopia, Myanmar, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Uruguay, and other countries that are also literally killing people. The magnitude and enormity of human suffering now is surely comparable to some of the more problematic eras in human history, but this is more palpable as we are made more aware and informed of the situation globally.

The Philippine condition is much worse than most other countries, and even compared with countries in the same economic category. Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand have managed the pandemic better than our government in terms of public health and economic impact. While these countries have their share of political problems, they seem to be able to cope better with political dissent and social dislocations while still growing their economies.

From the Spanish colonization, the American occupation, World War II and the Japanese occupation, the martial law years, and the mismanagement of society and the economy by self-serving politicians, it seems that Filipinos are a resilient and hopeful people. We always pray and hope that things will get better. That we will have a more competent and responsive government, moral and ethical political leaders, and elected officials who will really serve the people.

Yes, Filipinos are “Easter People” as envisioned by our Pope Francis. We believe in resurrection and redemption after the sufferings. We believe in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and God’s promise. We believe in a better tomorrow. But we should also remember that God helps those who help themselves. The Israelites stood up against the Egyptians, and Babylon was eventually freed. We expelled the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese, and Marcos. We should be able to do the same with the potential Chinese invaders and the current crop of politicians. Belated happy Easter.

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