Christmas Love

Today, my mother, Susana, my siblings as well as my daughter and I, will have lunch together at my brother’s condo unit in Quezon City. Each sub-family will bring food to share, and I am quite sure that my Kuya Bulos in Los Angeles, California and our eldest brother, Luis, who is based in Geneva, Switzerland, will call my mom on her mobile phone which will then get passed around like a box of yummy chocolates.

Such happy family reunions that straddle both the virtual and non-digital worlds make the Christmas holiday season really a joy to behold. One can tell from the constant uploading and tagging of photos on Facebook that this season has been both busy and happy, celebrated the Filipino way.

Today, we give thanks for the birth of our redeemer, Jesus Christ, in the most humble of places – a manger strewn with straw. After invoking His name in prayer, we then fit and fill our plates with food that we could afford, and exchange gifts with people closest to our hearts. The more lucky ones would have gifts ready for mass delivery, as a business strategy or as a marketing ploy. Politicians would have separate lists for media friends, party-mates, benefactors, staff, and next-of-kin.

This Christmas, I have my own modest list of special wishes for certain people and institutions:

1. Jonard Langamin and his mother Edith – I pray and hope that the Langamin family would be able to raise the much needed Php 5-million in blood money being required of them so that 27-year old Jonard would not be executed in Saudi Arabia. Jonard deeply regrets his crime, and the aggrieved family, also Filipinos, have long forgiven him for killing their loved one during a heated altercation aboard a ship docked near Saudi Arabia. Nanay Edith and her husband sell fishball and sweet corn for a living. The aggrieved family is also of modest means. Raising Php 5-million to save Jonard from a daily income of P200/day is next to impossible. For those interested in helping out the Langamin family, here is Nanay Edith’s number: +639994307853.I also offer the same prayers for other OFWs on Saudi’s death row like Dondon Lanuza, Joselito Zapanta, and five others.

2. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III – the year ahead will be a difficult one mainly due to an ailing world economy. My special wish for the President is that he acquires the gift of patience because the high road towards positive change will never be easy. I also pray for discernment and wisdom for PNoy and his closest advisers, because though we are their bosses, our voices are often discordant, and public opinion can be a product of herd mentality, rather than in-depth intellectual, spiritual, and emotional reflection. In the end, we need to rely just as much on his administration’s vision for the country that must come with a clear set of priorities on what must be done in the next five years.

3. Members of the Senate – may their togas remind them of the need to study hard for the impeachment trial and be led by convictions rather than party affiliations, or the clarion call of a 2013 re-election. I wish for them the gift of discernment because the trial involves not just one man, but the credibility of an entire institution, and the stability of an entire nation as well. May they do their jobs well.

4. Business leaders and top 100 companies – My Christmas wish for them is good karma based on their respective corporate social responsibility creed and actions; that fate and good fortune shine upon those who know how to give and pay back, from the heart, and serve as community partners and allies of civil society groups and their own employees. My special thanks go to private companies and government institutions like Pag-Ibig, PhilHealth, SSS, and DBP that sponsored our Happy OFW Christmas event last December 16.

5. OFWs and Local Workers – My Christmas wish is for our workers here and abroad to rise above poverty and mediocrity, and discover the path of personal fulfilment by being able to do what they love most. I pray that there are lesser victims of human trafficking and drug trafficking in 2012. I also pray and wish for greater absorption of workers by our local economy, in jobs that are not contractual in nature, so that our middle class can expand and flourish.

Love is the currency of the yuletide season, and it is difficult not to smile despite aching pockets and horrific traffic jams. The air itself is made light with affection, because kindness is an emotion made viral particularly on Christmas Day.

With this, let me rest my keyboard and end this piece by wishing you the most joyous Christmas ever! May your dreams for your family and for yourself come true! Thank you for being a part of “Our Times” this Christmas. (Send comments to toots.ople@yahoo.com. Follow me on Twitter via www.twitter.com/susanople.)

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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