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One broken family

By Joyce Raboca
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:51:00 12/18/2008

Filed Under: Social Issues, Charter change, Graft & Corruption

Jose Rizal wrote a chapter in ?El Filibusterismo? ironically titled ?Maligayang Pasko? [Merry Christmas]. Basically, it narrates the fate of the Family De Dios, who had something other than a merry Christmas. The daughter, Juli, became a maid; the grandfather, Tata Selo, went mute; and the father, Tales, was kidnapped by rebels. All this while the Spanish priests went merrymaking over the ill fortune of this family.

While I do love this lesson in Filipino, I can?t help but feel sadness, even bitter resentment, over how our fate has never really changed from that time. We Filipinos are still a broken family, especially this Christmas.

Before I continue, let me first give a Merry Christmas greeting to every uncorrupted politician, tooth fairy, reindeer, principled Philippine president, and elf out there. As a teenager in her senior year in high school, I have definitely felt the Christmas spirit from such characters.

As I was scanning the news with my dad the other day, I read about an ?uncorrupted politician? whose case was dismissed because he was not put on trial early enough. They used this fancy label for it too: ?clear transgression of the constitutional rights of the accused.?

I was a little confused and asked my lawyer father to explain it to me. I had to digest his answer for a while and, being nave, I had to ask for some clarification. ?So the court said that because the trial took too long to process, he can go free?? asked my father. ?Does that mean all the thousands of cases that have been sitting around with the Sandiganbayan for more than five years are being dismissed as well??

Apparently not. Just when I thought it was never too late for justice to be served (especially in the Philippines, where the justice system is always 10 years too late), connections once again overpowered justice. But the wrongly accused and impatient defendants have to be friends with the ombudsman first, I believe.

So thanks to the uncorrupted politician, I have finally realized what Christmas is all about.

The tooth fairy has also decided to visit and spread the Christmas spirit in the form of plundered money. Hooray for those who put morality under their pillow! In recent weeks, another former top official decided that lying, stealing and making a run for it should merit him freedom and a gift. Perhaps he wants his teeth back? But teeth cannot be grown back once you?ve put them under your pillow, and toothless is the man whose honesty has been bought by hundreds of millions of pesos from the tooth fairy. I will definitely bear that in mind this season. Maybe the tooth fairy will come and leave me a few billion pesos in exchange for my honesty as well.

Our painfully principled President has decided to steal Santa?s reindeer this year and ride him across the country. I believe his name is Cha-cha. Although she says that the reindeer is bringing Santa?s big bag of solutions to the country?s problems, I now have doubts that Cha-cha the reindeer ever belonged to Santa. After all, the song never mentions a reindeer named Cha-cha. Hmm ? that seems a little bit suspicious. I just hope she won?t be riding that reindeer in 2010. That would be a heavier weight on all of us (and not just on Cha-cha) come next Christmas.

As for my own life, college is around the corner, and I?m waiting for Santa?s elf to come ask me what I want for Christmas. Other than a box of transparent candies to send to the government, I would like to get into the top two colleges to which I applied for admission. January 2009 is acceptance month and I am hoping at least that Christmas stays bearable ? maybe even enjoyable ? until the results of the exams come out.

And when those results come out, I hope I won?t come down with a case of ?senioritis,? a sickness common to high school seniors after being accepted to a college. The symptoms include lazing around, slacking off, and developing grade apathy. That would not be a good thing, especially since our parents are Santas (shh, don?t tell them I know).

As for all of you, be happy with the shallow merry-making for now, because we Filipinos are not going to find merriment in having Spanish priests running the country this Christmas. Maybe next year we won?t lose our voice amid the injustices, like Tata Selo in ?El Filibusterismo.? Like Juli and Tales, maybe next year we will be free from injustice and the craziness of our politics. Maybe next Christmas, the reindeer, the elf, and the tooth fairy will bring nationalism, honesty and justice back to our country.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Joyce Raboca, 17, is a senior high school student at Assumption College.

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