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Life renovations

Much to the hubby’s disgust and frustration, one of my favorite cable channels is Home and Garden TV, or HGTV, which is devoted to all things domestic, except cooking.

My favorite shows have to do with remodeling old, crumbling homes or abandoned structures left to rot with the elements, and following the process of transforming these houses into safe, livable, comfortable and charming spaces. I can’t wait for the part where the host or rehab expert shows off the final product to the homeowners who usually can’t believe their eyes.

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How many ways can one say “Wow!,” “Oh my God,” “I can’t believe it!”? But no matter how many times we’ve heard the exclamations, we still share in their astonishment and delight. I love seeing the “before” and “after” scenes, showing the near-disasters that the old structures were, and how they were transformed with the use of the right space planning, color, organization and accessories.

It makes one believe in the possibility of new beginnings, of how a few physical adjustments can make a big difference not just in the appearance or layout of a space, but also in the way people who occupy that space live. I like to believe that the homeowners, breathing in their better-organized interiors, the colors that surround them, the space they can enjoy, begin to re-organize their relations, realize the value of the people they live with and move with ease through their days.

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Indeed, the change and transformation may simply be physical, even superficial, but it provides the proper setting for a change of mindset, a re-tooling of one’s attitude towards life in general, a revisioning of one’s reality.

So may it be, I hope, for us Filipinos in this cusp of the new year, as the first few days of 2017 usher us into not just a whole new calendar with which to mark our days, but into a whole new reality.

It’s been a little over six months since the change of administration, and I can’t believe how the general atmosphere of our political and social life has shifted.

Indicative, perhaps, is how much more muted our New Year’s Eve celebrations have been, with fireworks and pyrotechnics considerably reduced, at least in the areas I normally move in. Neighbors still brightened the dark sky last Dec. 31 with their own fireworks displays, but the number of neighbors has been considerably reduced. We ourselves forgot-or deliberately failed-to buy fireworks, although a brother-in-law and neighbor managed to light up a small fireworks fountain.

Media have attributed the “quieter,” less rowdy and less deadly New Year’s Eve observance to public fear of the President, who as Mayor of Davao had banned fireworks on the streets of his city. But the rains that night also had a lot to do with it, literally dampening the high spirits of the celebration.

But, the media do have a point. Fear of official sanctions kept people away from the fireworks sellers, and frightened the entrepreneurs in Bulacan and environs who otherwise might have gone aggressively after buyers.

But fear also worked in another way: There is a palpable descent in public euphoria, for after all, a frightened populace-frightened of EJK’s and over-zealous police, frightened of the threat of sudden arrests and unexplained disappearances-would be in no mood for jubilation.

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Still there is something we can do in our own individual capacities, as families, as communities, as civic groups, schools, churches, civil societies. We can, like the architects and contractors of the home improvement shows, work on our own renovations, create new environments for pursuing the values that matter most to us, and dissipating the darkness and doom with light.

The fireworks may have been dimmed, and our New Year’s Eve revelry muted. But we can still start planning the way we want to pursue our lives, change the reality of the almost-nightly shootings, killings and mass arrests and organize our forces to do battle with the forces of darkness. We may share the same setting, the same country. But we don’t need to share the same reality, or our perception of it.

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TAGS: change, drugs, Killings, New Year, Rodrigo Duterte
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