In a country where everything looks bleak, how should one celebrate Christmas? Or, should we actually bother thinking about it? Me, I try recollection.
My most poignant Christmas was in 1988. I was arrested in the latter part of that year, placed under solitary confinement and all the time hid in the camp from my family by my captors. I had written a letter earlier telling my parents that I was alright and that they only had to wait until I could iron out the kinks and go home. That Christmas, I asked permission from my captors to allow me a visit. The tears fell freely the moment we connected again. There was a bittersweet feeling there.
But the joys of Christmas I always attach to my childhood growing up in Sitio Kawayan, Barangay Sambag 2 in Cebu City. The place is more popularly called “Luyos TB”because of its location: the village sprouted in what used to be a vacant lot at the back of the old TB Pavillon along B. Rodriguez Ext. We kids would go around singing Christmas songs offkey accompanied by an instrument made from flattened tansans. Those were bonding times for my childhood friends and exuded the innocence of youth.
I did organize a group of carolers when I was older, if I remember it right in the middle ’80s. That was in the hinterland barangay of Sapangdaku in Cebu City where I organized the farmers for sometime. I was with sons and daughters of peasants. We sang Cebuano songs and tried to make a decent go at it. The families that we visited were mostly sympathizers of the underground, otherwise the unreliable ones may just tick off to the military our presence. We did the caroling at night and enjoyed it.
Christmas with my family is somewhat laid back now. The community where we are residing now in the southern Cebu town of Minglanilla is what can be described as suburban. You are on your own at Christmas, unlike in our old place in Sitio Kawayan where the area is cramped with people there is more interaction. People put up “sounds” and drink and dance until the midnight bell rings. But I prefer the peace that blankets our place during Christmas now. Besides, if we want noise, there are the firecrackers.
So how do you celebrate your Christmas in a period like this?
—Bong Wenceslao, Dec. 11, 2007