imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

No sad Christmas

High school student Jennifer, a student leader, says she will be missing the Christmas program and Christmas party in school.

“I will be missing our gift-giving activity in the different barangays, too,” she said.

Jennifer, the vice president of the student council last school year, said that the student council distributed relief packs, clothes and other essentials to identified indigent families in her town and in the adjacent feeder town last December 2019. She calls the program Bigay-Puso.

“It felt great to share something to others. For me, this is Christmas,” she said.

How about her Christmas party in school?

“It’s a merry time but I’m more inclined to Bigay-Puso than just mere eating, exchanging gifts and playing games,” she said.

“So, what’s in store for you this Christmas season,” I asked.

Jennifer only shook her head.

“The student council can’t do otherwise, in fact the workplan we coined last February after the elections dealt more with projects that needed face-to-face contact,” she said.

She, however, said that Christmas is not that bleak, after all.

“We can still enjoy Christmas via online. It’s not what are on the table that matter on Christmas Day. It’s the happiness, contentment and health of everyone. We are lucky we did not have Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses here. As long as we emerge COVID-free by 2021 and beyond, that’s already a big Christmas gift from God,” she said.

And why not, fellas?

At a time when we still have 2,000 COVID 19 infections a day with the provinces now experiencing local transmissions, why insist on a merry Christmas season?

Our country is bracing for a party-less Christmas as the government moves to retain strict virus-related lockdown measures until the end of the year. Authorities have said keeping the restrictions, which include a ban on Christmas parties, are necessary to keep a surge in the disease cases in check.

Christmas is marked by big celebrations in the Philippines, where around 80 percent of the population are Catholic. Traditional masses, family gatherings, and endless parties are held during the season that usually kicks off earlier than December. We might not have the usual blinking lights pop up in malls, streets and the parks or even in front of the municipal halls although radio stations have started to play Christmas songs as early as December.

Christmas season is different this year, fellas.

Due to fear of transmission, malls are only allowed to operate at a limited capacity where shoppers are discouraged lingering in shopping centers.

Nineteen year-old-year-old college student Grethel said that the decision to ban Christmas parties in the country amid COVID-19 dampens the Christmas spirit. Grethel, who doesn’t think as positive as Grade 11 Jennifer said Christmas to be merry needs really “to be merry.”

“It’s going to be a bleak, sad Christmas, but it should be if we want to survive the pandemic, “she said.

Like Jennifer, Grethel said that the only way to celebrate it is through face-to-face virtual greetings via video call or zoom.

How about caroling, fellas?

Church officials in Manila said Christmas carol activities for parishes this year would be prohibited due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, said in a statement that churches in the archdiocese were told not to organize such activities.

“We have already instructed our parishes not to organize carolings,” PNA quoted Pabillo as saying.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines executive secretary said the move came as a part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Doing so would protect the public and choir members since, according to experts, the virus can easily be transmitted through singing,” the CBCP said.

And so, how should caroling be done by the kids?

  “We can do it online,” Jennifer said. “We can do it via video call and the godparents can respond by sending their cash gifts via pera padala or their gifts via online shopping and gift-giving addressed to their inaanak,” she said.

The Department of Health (DOH) is aware of this especially to our countrymen suffering from stress and deprivation as a result of Typhoons Rolly and Ulysses. People fear contracting the virus plus the deaths and devastations caused by the typhoons abruptly changed the daily lives of the people. The decision to scrap Christmas merrymaking comes as Filipinos struggle with mental fatigue due to prolonged isolation, loss of jobs, and loss of loved ones for some.

With the Christmas and New Year holidays drawing near, the Department of Health (DOH) urges the public to just shop and meet family and friends online to reduce the risk of transmitting the new coronavirus.

“Let us remember that the virus is still here. Even if you are wearing your mask and face shield, but would go to a crowded place, you could still get infected. The risk is there and it is very high. We advise everyone to opt for online activities such as online masses, make video calls with friends and relatives, and if possible, just shop online. In these ways, we reduce the possibility or chance of us being infected or infecting others with COVID-19,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

 And so, this Christmas, we might just as well adopt Jose Mari Chan’s new renditions of his old songs “Christmas in our Hearts” and “A Perfect Christmas:”

Whenever I hear girls and boys
Singing carols in my mind,
I remember the past
When everything was fine.
Whenever I see people
Giving gifts to those in need,
I believe this Christmas
We should be there to lead.
Let’s open up our hearts
For a bright tomorrow,
In any way we can
And drive out all our sorrow.

Meanwhile, for his song “A Perfect Christmas,” the new lyrics read:

My idea of a perfect Christmas,
is to spend it with you.
We could Facetime an hour or two,
Any app would do.
Carry with you this Yuletide season,
it would light up my life.
Though we are distant,
You’ll see in my face
That my heart is with you.”