Pisteng yawa ning tuiga! And hopefully a different 2021 TMT

Pisteng yawa ning tuiga! And hopefully a different 2021 Featured

ONLY a true Bisdak (Bisayang Daku) can appreciate the nuance of this greeting — both a curse and a benediction. The year 2020 was one of contrast, not unlike the contrapuntal opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

To juxtapose, 2020 was a year of deprivation, fear and solicitude. Yet, it was also a time for renewal, introspection and intimacy. We were never as forcibly occupied with our families than at any time in our lives; in my case — my third generation; being acquainted with their growth, hopes, dreams and particularly their unarticulated fear of that which is unseen — the specter of death. This virus pervaded our lives, distorting our narratives such that the stories old men tell their descendants are twisted by the veracities of today. We are not even guaranteed Santa Claus appearing this Christmas. It could be the Grim Reaper knocking on the door!

And the worst is yet to come. A Harvard classmate, a retired Pan-American Health Organization director, Dr. Primo Arambulo 3rd, advanced the idea that our proclivity for disinfecting everything, “washing our hands while singing Happy Birthday…ends up killing protective bacteria on ones skin.” Worse, this kills the weak microorganisms, leaving the strong coronavirus to mutate and be more virulent. This is now happening in Europe!

2020 annus horribilis
The new year in a real sense is not a profound milestone. Midnight of December 31 to the dawn of January 1 is no different from any other day to the next. The ancients regarded other dates as portentous. The Egyptians consider August 15 more significant. It signals the flooding of the Nile, the birth of new life, coinciding with the rising of the star Sirius toward the East.

During the winter solstice, the earth is tilted away from the sun resulting in the shortest day and the longest and darkest night. In the Northern Hemisphere it takes place between December 20 and 23. It’s the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere where it occurs in June. The Druids, the Incas and the Japanese, among others, celebrate these dates as the start of a new year with bonfires to encourage the sun’s return.

Filipinos and the Christian world impute symbolism on January 1. Traditionally, we go through the pains of reflection hammering out a “to do or not to do” list, primarily based on a cursory assessment of our behavior, failures and successes, crafting out corrective measures with 10 or 20 New Year’s resolutions (NYRs) one promises to faithfully adhere to.

First 4 NYRs
Not immune to this quaint tradition, I have my own list. First, I continue to lose weight, a resolution enacted since September, not as altruism on my part, but upon my wife’s nagging and doctor’s orders. If I continue along the path of obesity — I die! And I have already accepted my granddaughters Sylvie’s and Claudia’s invitations to their weddings. Both are six and five years old, respectively. (Sabine has not yet decided to marry or enter the convent. She turned one year old two weeks ago.)

My second resolution is a character overhaul, again upon the direction of my spouse, Sylvia, spurred perhaps by an unfortunate but correct observation by a favorite sister-in-law. It seems that as one advances through antiquity, the values and virtues of humility, humor and warm personal interactions acquired through a moral though poverty-stricken upbringing enhanced by an excellent Jesuit education erode and in their stead, a patina of arrogance and a sense of invincibility grows. I agree this is deplorable.

The Donald’s nonelection
The third resolution pertains to my advocacy — writing a newspaper column. I intend to diversify and depersonalize issues. Of the 52 weekly articles published, the pandemic obviously was dominant (13 op-ed) followed by President Donald Trump and the United States elections (nine articles). The Donald, as America’s worst president ever, is a fascinating caricature. Why a bigot, an inveterate prevaricator and a psychopath was chosen by the Republican Party to run in 2016, losing the plurality of the votes but winning the electoral college boggle the mind. Trump’s subsequent behavior, after both the universal and electoral votes losses last November 3, 2020, is simply incomprehensible. But the fact that 74 million Americans voted him a second term subsequently fanning his delusions that this election was stolen from under him by an unsubstantiated massive fraud in five “critical swing states” (and not in the others where he won) is simply preposterous and downright irrational.

The contagion
On the other hand, my pandemic articles simply reflected global concerns on public health and collapsing economies with the initial column written in February even before the spread of the contagion; going on to inflict to date some 77 million cases and 1.7 million deaths. The US comprises 4.26 percent of the world’s population yet 18 percent of the totals are American deaths. Currently US coronavirus deaths are running an equivalent to one daily New York’s Twin Towers attack. Many Americans themselves lay this tragedy at Trump’s feet — on his non-leadership, criminal incompetence and continued denial.

But I leave these conundrums to the American people to resolve. It is their country, after all. I may have lost friends and perhaps family members on my penchant for dichotomizing Trump. I look forward though to one more op-ed this January 20, when the Donald is physically evicted from the White House.

The Deegong
My fourth resolution has to do with my critique of the alpha-male, misogynist, gutter-mouth Rodrigo Duterte in deference to my family’s wishes, particularly my son who wrote an article extolling candidate Duterte’s virtues. This essay went viral on social media establishing Carlo’s credentials as an original Dutertista, consequently fomenting an internal filial feud. I have been a strong critic of the Deegong’s malfunctions but equally complimentary and exultant on his accomplishments — though I confess there are more of the former than the latter. But I accede to my family’s demands.

The rest of the NYRs
The fifth to 10th items are commonplace yet as eclectic as a politician’s ideological colors. These are about one’s health, lifestyle and financials.

5. Drink less alcohol — perhaps after the holidays.

6. Eat less meat and more veggies. Cows eat grass converting this to steak. Steak is therefore intrinsically veggies.

7. Find a girlfriend — my wife objects.

8. Find a boyfriend — my wife objects even more.

9. Earn more money — my wife does.

10. Get out of debt — my wife did.

Thus, I approach the yearend, tongue-in-cheek, but determined to produce positive changes. Items 1to 4 are well thought out and will probably be achieved. Items 5 to 10, have been an annual “feel-good” ritual intended to be kept by Jan. 1, 2021.

And promptly forgotten by Jan. 2, 2021.

Maligayang pasko sa inyong tanan!

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