It’s the spirit

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya - Philstar.com

Over the past several days, I've been making an effort to listen to Christmas music. This is something I'm not sure why I'm doing. Even though I watch the news every day, which can be a source of hopelessness and sorrow at times, listening to music provides a better break. It's the reality that constantly tells us that the bad news seems to never end. The news of loved ones' deaths, a senior Filipino who was a victim of hate crime in a foreign nation, and other dismal news are simply too much to bear.

Singing has always been a means for us to express ourselves. Music is a warm wave in the dark that helps us cope with sorrow and sadness. It delights, sometimes individually, sometimes all at once. It connects us to a universe much beyond our comprehension.

This year, the desire to "plug in" has been even stronger. We were separated from our loved ones, who were either essential healthcare providers or lived far away, when stay-at-home orders began in March. Some were fortunate to have their husbands and children with them, and while we treasured the cozy times, there were plenty of difficult ones as well.

Music has a universal language. It mends broken hearts. It keeps us from having negative thoughts and even leads us to contemplate and reconcile things that, no matter how hard we try to achieve and realize, we simply have to accept as a part of life.

As sentimental as Filipinos are, we have many Christmas songs about being abandoned or rejected, but rather than focusing on the pain, we choose some good lessons, lessons of recovery and healing.

However, there are some Christmas songs that make us miss our loved ones who have passed on. We reflect on previous Christmases spent with loved ones who have since joined our Creator. The nostalgia that this evokes in our senses, especially when we recollect locations and times shared with them and wish we could turn back the clock.

We may also be able to have Christmas songs that convey a message of hope in the midst of the pandemic. We desire that this season of the year is a little brighter than the previous one, whether it is a personal or a community one. We hope that instead of only remembering those who will never be with us in flesh, we will bring more and more members of the family to the family meeting year after year.

We've been listening to music more than ever before, and after seeing viral videos of quarantined celebrities making music together, we remember that there was mental and emotional interaction in a world suddenly devoid of physical contact --and we felt a part of it. Every note, every strum, reinforced our bond with one another. We felt powerful and spiritual despite the heartbreaking news of additional fatalities and the inability to see loved ones. We were both scared and at ease.

We expect to be able to sing in local outdoor places once the limitations loosen. As the sounds of drums, bass, and acoustic guitars flooded the audience, we'd sing into the mic. We'd sway, sing along, and connect with one another despite being physically distanced. It would feel like therapy.

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