Lessons to be learned
We asked the stars: Why should we celebrate Christmas this year after a string of disasters?
We should always celebrate Christmas in spite of the catastrophes that we encounter in life. We should remember that Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We should always put Jesus in our lives. Whatever is happening in our country, we should never forget that Jesus is our refuge and our salvation. We should never forget to pray in order to be prepared for whatever calamities we are going to face.
It’s not fair to dictate how anyone should celebrate Christmas but it’s good to remind everyone to share their blessings with our brothers and sisters who need them more—and then go about their own tradition or however they wish to celebrate Christmas. It just has to be filled with love, joy and lots of hugs.
Life goes on and we move on. We laugh, we cry and we celebrate as the season dictates. We Pinoys are a happy people whatever our situation in life is. This is because of our faith in God. It’s because we never lose hope. And Christmas repeats that message every year: the coming of our Savior and deliverance. This is the recurring theme of our lives.
Ever since Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck, I’ve seen so much arguing in social media about how much to donate, what we should be doing to help the victims, even what kind of posts are appropriate, given that so many of our countrymen are suffering. I’ve always believed in “to each his own.” We have all reacted and responded to this crisis in our own ways and that’s OK. As for celebrating Christmas, [our family] will celebrate it like any other year—with a simple gathering of family members eager to spend some quality time with each other over some good food and conversation. I believe in taking every opportunity to make every moment of life as wonderful as possible—disaster or no disaster.
John “Papa Jack” Gemperle
’Di naman kailangang maging magarbo ang Pasko. It’s really about spending quality time with your loved ones. I haven’t bought anything for myself in the past four years. My gift to myself is to see my wife and daughter happy during this season, so I buy them what they want. This year, I’ll spend Christmas at home with both my parents and my wife Toni’s family. Toni and I once thought of going abroad, but this was before Yolanda happened. We decided to cancel the trip and, instead, to help as many people affected by the calamities as we can.
Jose Javier Reyes
There is a lesson to be learned from all this: Christmas is not about the frenzy of parties, the expenses in food and gifts or even the extravaganza of public decor. After what transpired in our country, we were made aware that Christmas should come from within and not be foisted on us to resemble merriment. We can celebrate Christmas with utmost simplicity but never without love or the spirit of sharing.
We still need to celebrate Christmas because we are not only commemorating it to have fun or receive gifts. We should honor the true meaning of the season: the spirit of Christmas, the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can express our love to him by sharing and giving what we can to the survivors of the calamities. Sharing love is the true reason for the season
We need to remind ourselves that Christmas is the birth of God’s son, who was born in a manger… that Jesus is for the lowly and underprivileged. Celebrating Christmas now should be more significant and relevant, considering the series of disasters that hit the country and the suffering of our people. We do not need to stop celebrating the holidays. We just need to remember its real essence, which is to share ourselves and what we have with our brothers and sisters.
We should celebrate it by reflecting on what we did in the past year. I’ve always celebrated Christmas quite simply. Ang handa, gusto ko ’yong nauubos lang. I don’t want the food to go to waste, especially now, knowing that survivors of disasters could have benefited from it. I always say that when I help, ayaw ko nang malaki. I’m not the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). I don’t have a lot of money, either. I just give what I can to one family in need. The recent unfortunate events made me think: These disasters, whether natural or man-made like the pork barrel scam, is God’s way of telling us to change our ways. If these do not inspire us to become better individuals, then I don’t know what will.
It’s important, especially during difficult times, for Filipinos to feel the spirit of Christmas. We don’t have to celebrate it in a grand way by giving each other expensive gifts. Hearing Mass and then having noche buena together are enough—that’s what my family plans to do this year. The series of tragedies made me become more conscious about spending—not that I used to be a big spender. Now, I think hard before I buy something, knowing that the money I have could mean a lot to those affected by the calamities.
Christmas should still be celebrated with the family. However, this year will be different for me. I was deeply affected by what I witnessed when I joined Yes Pinoy Foundation’s recent relief efforts in Estancia, Iloilo. Those of us who live in Manila think that relief goods are already overflowing in that area, but the truth is, they are not. The old women who patiently waited for our group under the intense heat of the sun cried when they each received 10 kilos of rice. You will not know how bad it is until you’re actually there. The sight was heartbreaking.
I think we should still celebrate Christmas despite the tragedies. Christmas is all about giving. This year, instead of spending a huge amount of money on fireworks to welcome the New Year, my family has decided to just share whatever money we can save to help the people working in our farm in Iloilo. They were affected by the calamity.
We experience disasters on a daily basis, and it comes in different forms and magnitude. But it shouldn’t be a reason for us not to celebrate Christmas. It’s not about parties, but a celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ, which also means a celebration of life, love, sharing, hope and peace. We can still celebrate it by making it more meaningful.
Christmas is a celebration of hope so, yes, it should be celebrated despite the tragedies. How? Modestly. Donations make great gifts.
Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. We should celebrate his birth. I will be spending it this year with my mother and siblings, although not in a luxurious way. With the recent events, I think what God wants to impart to me is that I should bless other people as much as He blesses me.
Christmas is a celebration of the coming of our Savior, the one who gave us life and saved us from our sins. We must celebrate it to give thanks to Him—this doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Be it in the simplest or grandest way, what’s important is that we are preparing for Jesus’ arrival. After all, even some of those affected by the disasters still believe in the spirit of Christmas and of giving.
I know that this is a difficult time, especially to those who lost families and properties when the calamities struck, but we have to be strong. We can’t stop living because of what happened. I’m sure God has a purpose for all these. We just have to keep the faith. We have to remain positive. We should appreciate the fact that we survived and could start over. There is hope as long as we believe in Christ. He will not put us to the test if we cannot handle it. Sadly, I won’t be home for Christmas this year because of work. My family, especially my son, is based in Cebu. I still look at this in a positive way—at least I have work. This is all for my son’s future.
Bayani San Diego Jr., Allan Policarpio and Marinel R. Cruz
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