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Memoirs of an Amnesiac

Taking the Good with the Bad

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by , 01-01-2014 at 09:48 PM (1018 Views)
The TV broadcaster quipped this afternoon that if you ever see people with wide smiles on the streets, they probably are those firecracker peddlers and sellers who are satisfied about this year's firecracker and fireworks sales. Despite the constant reminders by the dancing health undersecretary (depicting Katy Perry's "Roar" single) and the media's walk through in emergency and trauma centers about the paraphernalia and apparatuses that will be used in operating limbs that (hopefully will not be amputated and dismembered) are hit by firecrackers, there is no stopping the typical Filipino from following "tradition."

As per tradition, fireworks "shoo away" bad luck and misfortunes in the previous year so that they wouldn't anymore be present in the next year. So the noisier it gets, the more effective the "shooing." So no one would be surprised about the new names that have been adapted from calamities that became infamous last year. Ever heard of the Goodbye Philippines, Goodbye World or Universe, Bin Laden fireworks? Not to mention Yolanda.

With the calamities that struck the country the previous year, I wouldn't be surprised about more smiling fireworks peddlers and businessmen. The calamities have not only brought with them portentous events, they also brought with them nagging fears and anxieties, something that not even the Yolanda fireworks could erase.

Of course there are other "traditions" that most of us Filipinos are practicing. There is that tradition of not eating chicken on the eve of the new year. They say in the dialect, kakha-tuka. This means that one would have to fend off with meager income. Make do with what one has. But some argue that at least a chicken scratches compared to being idle. More aptly, in the dialect, "Maayo nalang ang manok kay nagkakha para naa'y matuka." Alejo's Lechon is never without long queues each new year. Some would even have to get priority numbers earlier just to get enough kilos to share for media noche not knowing that pigs are even lazier than chickens.

Then, there are those who wear polka-dotted clothes believing that the circles would translate into money. Oh well, circle are coins. People only want coins? The more bizarre ones are those who wouldn't spend at least a cent on the first day of the year. They call it, palihe, which means that if you do spend, you'll find yourself spending the whole year. My argument is that at least you have something to spend. It's better than not having money to spend at all. How about those 13 circular fruits for prosperity? Some years back I remembered my mother following this and I'm the happy benefactor because I get to eat those 13 varieties right after. Circular fruits for coins again. Wonder whether there are rectangular ones for bills this time.

Having been acquainted with the Chinese culture, I find myself following some of them. Example would be boiling monggo seeds on new year's eve. The belief would be that they keep growing so wealth pours in. Then, cooking miswa and boiling eggs for long life. Then putting coins in one's pockets and bills and tossing them while jumping (presumably to make one grow taller, hopefully but I doubt it) and greeting a happy new year.

On a deeper level, these traditions are reflective of hope. One that the new year always brings us. Despite what they referred the number 13 as an unlucky number (being that buildings do not contain this floor number and Friday the 13th where misfortunes are rife), this year has also been very mind awakening. It reminded us about the things that truly matter in life --- our families. When our thatched roofs are carried away by super typhoons, our strongest structures razed to the ground by super quakes, along with our promises of progress and stability, we keep our ground and hold on to hope and look up to its Source. When all we've ever dreamed and hoped for and even treasured are gone, taken away right before our very eyes, hope remains.

Hope springs eternal. When we hope against hope, that is probably the worst that we could ever experience.

God forbid.

Updated 01-01-2014 at 09:53 PM by shey0811



  1. jekolosfrom's Avatar
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