December 7, 2023

It’s Sunday and it’s the first day of 2023, which for the Chinese and the Filipino-Chinese community is the Year of the Rabbit. Time to stock up on the future and see what’s in store for us all.
After Covid-19, the year ahead seems to brighten up with infinite possibilities.

It was Robert Frost who wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep but I have promises to keep before I sleep.” Thus, for us all the time is now to fulfill the promises and might as well along the way bring our dreams to life.

The year 2022 will be remembered for many things, including Bongbong Marcos’ ascendancy as the 17th President of the Republic with a whopping 31 million votes, the rise and fall of a little president in less than 90 days, and Maharlika funds.

One of the lucky few, I received on the 25th a Presidential wall clock, a cup, and a jacket.The clock kept me puzzled: Is he running out of time or does he need more time to keep his promises amidst the infighting and growing disappointment of his loyal friends? Anyway, looking at the good side, I still believe naman po. Sana all.

Meantime, the celebration of the New Year’s Eve was an event by itself as the kids and family gathered around the table waiting for the ticking countdown with the fireworks, rockets, and lights spreading in the village.

At home in Trancoville then, we would light firecrackers – bawang, three star, rapido, and dynamite while the younger ones play with lusis and candle fountains. We would gather around the improvised bamboo canon, which when filled with kalboro or ga-as, lit by a match and slapped with rubber slippers, produces a big booming effect, you’d think the atomic bomb was dropped at your neighborhood.

At the yard, papa and his gang drink in moderation the free-flowing gin with sagawisiw as pulutan. They are seemingly mindful of a John Denver song dedicated to a seven-year-old,“Please, daddy (Don’t get drunk this Christmas).”

Unlike the upsetting song, they do not pass out underneath the Christmas tree late in the night, though probably yes.

Meanwhile, inside the house, the phonograph plays Christmas carols by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the other oldies – “The Christmas Song”, Silver Bells, Silent Night, and other more twinkly and romantic original classics.

Nowadays, it is Michael Buble on YouTube singing old time favorites.

Food on the table is simple – basic chicken hamonado, round fruits, and gossip – white wine to drown them all. Chief cook for Noche Buena is mother.

After hours of preparation, she took an afternoon nap and when she woke up, she told papa, “I just dreamed that you gave me a new oven to replace the old reliable one for a New Year’s present. What do you think it all means?”

Inebriated by early drinks, he replied, “Aha, you’ll know tonight!” Later he gave her a small gift-wrapped present straight from CID Educational Supply.

Excited, she opened it quickly, but was even more surprised: in it was a book titled “The Meaning of Dreams.”

For the boys the fare was the usual pulutan – mountain goat of sam-luk, kilawin, kal-dereta, and isang platong mani with plenty recycled drunken jokes:
Ano ang puno na ‘di puwedeng akyatin? ‘Yung nakatumba!
Ano ang nagagawa ng limang lalaki na hindi kayang gawin ng limang babae? Umihi nang sabay-sabay sa iisang arinola!
Bakit nahihiya ang mga biik? Ang nanay kasi nila ay baboy!
Paano matulog ang kuba? Eh ‘di nakapikit!
So, after the fireworks and the celebration, time to buckle down and work not for ourselves but for our children’s children to make the community a better place to live in.
As the late Fidel V. Ramos said, “The best is yet to come!”
From my family to yours, we wish everyone a better New Year.