Navigating our way to Christmas

In less than 4 weeks, we will be celebrating Christmas Day. I am assuming that Christmas Day will still be on December 25, a Monday, as I have not yet heard about it being moved to another day. How fortunate that it is a Monday because there is less reason to change it in order to make a long weekend.

Rizal Day, December 30, 2023 may not be safe, though, because it is a Saturday. If it is moved to December 29, a Friday, we can have another long weekend. We are in for a fun time, exchanging holiday dates to have fiesta weekends. Only in the Philippines. History seems less important than party times.

Sarcasm aside, changing historical events and celebration dates is not a subtle way of revisionism. While Marcos Junior has publicly launched a campaign against fake news, he is subverting the cause of truth by changing history through historical dates of public holidays. Sleeky smooth but not subtle enough.

Anyway, since we are already inside the Christmas season, I keep trying to fight negativism so I can truly savor the spirit of Christmas. The negativism is being streamed by national events and personalities, thus not easy to avoid. Take China, for example. When it continues to bully and spit on our sovereignty and territorial rights by provoking violent encounters at sea, it cuts into the spirit of peace that is Christmas.

Then, we have this zarzuela of the ICC and whether the legal obligation of the Philippines to cooperate in its investigation of ex-president Duterte (and others like Senator Bato, I believe) should be honored. I wonder what the fuss is all about when all the personalities involved have maintained their innocence. Once and for all, an international commission can clear the names of the suspects.

And for those who are confused about why it seems we were part of the Rome Statute that gives life and power to the ICC, there is really no reason for that confusion. After all, the Philippines is a signatory to many international treaties and organizations, not because we are subordinate or inferior to other countries. There are just so many concerns that are not only domestic but global in nature. For the benefit of our national interests, we relate to a community of nations and agree to specific terms and conditions.

We must remember that, when our pride is pricked by the seemingly superior posture of other countries or international organizations, we have to face the mirror and look at our level of dependence in so many areas. Look at our OFWs, for instance. They are working in over 100 countries, a minority because they really like to, but a majority because they feel they have to despite separation from their families and submitting to foreign culture and rules.

We want oil, we submit to the demands of oil sources. We want rice, we now need to depend on Vietnam as other sources are reducing exports. What else do we want that we can fully produce here at home? The harsh reality is that we need so much more from other countries than they need from us. When that is our situation, we need to trade, we need to enter into defense arrangements, we need to take care of our foreign relationships.

Remember our previous conjugal dictatorship had to send Imelda to Libya and courtsey to a bigger and richer dictator, Omar Khadafy, so she can ask him nicely to stop funding the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao. Before we get our arrogance up, we better understand our limitations. More than that, we better measure our resolve and how far we are willing to go to defend our pride.

Although expected, there is that funny drama affecting the Uniteam. It seems it is not so united anymore. And the more it appears from their moves that they are preparing to part ways, the more they say they are still united. I think Christmas is not a good time to declare war among themselves but I am not sure how long they can fool themselves and us.

It surprised me how quickly things can change. Political ambitions can lead to disruptions of political fortunes. No wonder confidential funds for the Office of the VP and the Secretary of DepEd have been restricted. If the short-term allies will have a face off, the Dutertes will be denied discretionary funds. Perhaps, in the minds of their rivals, more than 20 billion pesos of confidential funds in 6 six years is more than enough.

Again, too, a bit of news that is not exactly new, and can be good or bad, when it was announced that another round of negotiations between the National Democratic Front and the government has been agreed. Good if we finally end this fraternal killing and bad if any or both parties just want to score points.

And the prices of rice are up and staying up, more than double the fake news of P20/kg – which is truly good news for small rice farmers if their farm gate prices are also up and will stay up. It is difficult to protect the consumer at the cost of killing our rice farmers. A better formula is needed where poor and ordinary Filipinos can still afford to eat and rice farmers can prosper (at last!)

But if we really want to appreciate our blessings more than curse of corruption and poverty, we can try to monitor the rest of the world. Russia’s war against Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, Lebanon, and Iran, raging violence in Africa, and China claiming ownership with a military might as a bargaining chip. We are still blessed, I must say, because we can still smell and taste the Christmas that is coming.

In the end, we cannot let the hardships of life overwhelm its brighter possibilities. In the end, we must be driven to build our visions of the tomorrow we dream of.