A real Filipino Santa

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Some years back, a child named Virginia asked, “Is there a Santa Claus?” An editorial responded, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He lives in the hearts of children.”

Indeed, Santa Claus continues to fascinate kids with “ho-ho” tidings and Christmas gifts. Is it any wonder why moms, dads, ninong and ninang pitch in as Santa Claus’ emissaries during Christmas?

Arnold van Vugt (Inquirer, 12/19/12) comments on Santa Claus being foreign to Philippine culture. But can we be so cruel to break the hearts of children by telling them “There is no Santa Claus”? Such a heartless account would also mean driving away Santa Claus from shopping malls, programs and charity visits at Christmas.

“The Second Christmas” by Louis Untermeyer tells the story of a couple with their child who went into hiding incognito by crossing a desert to escape from a mandate to kill all 1-year-old boys and younger. Kind folks who knew only their given names offered shelter to the family in a far away place.

After some time, men in uniform caught up with the evacuees. Tension gripped the air but everyone felt relieved when the officer and his men suddenly knelt before the child and offered boxes of gifts on the day they found him, which coincided with his birthday. As the story goes, the gifts came from the Thee Kings who ordered the search for the little boy and his parents after Herod’s death. This was “The Second Christmas” for the child and the couple, marked by the giving of gifts.

In Philippine setting, Santa Claus represents the gift-givers in one bulk of a “caricature” as Van Vugt pictures him. But let us, by all means transform this “caricature” into a real Filipino Santa Claus who will always have a place in the hearts of children and the memories of grownups. Let’s implore Santa Claus to be far from being a “caricature.”

For our sake and our children’s, dear Santa Claus, please—

• Dress up like a Filipino, not too bulky, with a smaller tummy and devoid of an absurd mustache.

• Junk the tale on “heigh-hoing” down the chimney, the sampling of white Christmas by cotton linings on Christmas trees, and by the roasting of chestnut in an open fire since these are foreign to us, although reaching us in songs.

• Discard the winter-beaten sleigh with a load of gifts drawn by reindeers. A handy pushcart will do.

• Call for assistance when you carry a heavy load. Our teenagers will be eager to heed your call.

• Stop the cutting down of trees for adornment during Christmas. Blocks of wood, recycled materials and cutouts shaped into Christmas trees will certainly display the indigenous creativity of Filipinos.

• Move about beyond shopping malls and well-lighted homes to places where less fortunate children flock.

• Finally, spread out your emissaries in Christmas fashion to complement your Filipino getup.

When these are done, you will have championed the mission to keep alive the Christmas spirit not only among children but among adults as well. We will always hold dear our real Filipino Santa Claus!

—ALICE S. GO,

Gabas, Baybay City, 6521 Leyte

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