This year’s Christmas day seems to have come so fast. I felt like I was caught unaware. The thought about it was totally forgotten. Or maybe I just had no anticipation of what was to come at all this year. I just let the day unknowingly go by, or anything for this matter, and that includes anticipating the impending arrival of holidays. There wasn’t much signs that would augur the arrival of the festive season. One day I woke up hearing Christmas song being played in the background. Then suddenly I am surrounded by Christmas decors and wreaths my wife artistically created to satisfy an urging inclination which later became a commercialized hobby. The “simbang gabi” and other traditional advent celebrations have been shelved just like many other seasonal reminders related to Christmas. Malls and stores restrained in-person retail experience. Places where people would have gathered and spent time together in a festive atmosphere have been shut down. Yes, there are other ways to get into the spirit of the season, as all religious observance and commercial shopping are virtually available. But it takes some behavior re-shaping and mental conditioning to adapt to our new culture. Just as Christmas seems to come stealthily in without much fanfare and anticipation, at least in my view, new year looms in the offing with a much brighter promise.
I think my behavior has affected my sense of reality. I stopped reacting seriously to anything happening around me, or perhaps it is by design that I behave this way. There’s too much negativity in the world. I close one eye to block myself from seeing harsh realities and open another to just focus on my very own reality. But it doesn’t work that way. There is no escaping from reality. We can somehow ignore and dismiss the infodemic of negative news but sooner or later it will catch up with us. The fact of the matter is, I got extremely busy with my new gig. And despite my recent preoccupation on statistics about covid19 and the loathsome depiction of Trumpliness (no politicized opinion expressed) dominating many major TV channels and print media, my focus has recently shifted lopsidedly toward project timelines and for good reason.
This issue of Epistoliorum could not have come in worse timing. I thought I have all the time in the world to get ready and work on my editorial calendar without a hitch. Just one call from my former boss and my priority has changed. Hurriedly my life began to swing back into action. No more Uber Eats delivery gig. I have now become a working-from-home employee just like many others these days. I ordered a new powerful laptop to replace my aging Surface Book so I can keep up with multiple graphic design and video editing projects. I set up a dedicated office conducive for long hours of work, day and night, but the development of this quarter’s issue of Epistoliorum has been blindsided and now I have to cram to come up with a decent publication issue. For this matter, light at the end of the tunnel still looms large and wide.
Thanks to fray Emman Pangan (Nueva Ecija) and fray deacon Neil Daculan (Melbourne, Australia) who both decisively committed their time to helping with the editorial tasks notwithstanding previous and current engagement. I want to specially mention them as I thought they could have easily turned down the invitation. Yes, I need help. And I need it from anyone who can show impartial willingness to commit. And they both have showed no reservation about giving up a portion of their time to make the difference and carry the torch that will keep the fire burning for the continued illumination of Epistoliorum. I can see inscription on the wall – a hunch – that someday I will be out of commission so young bloods in the person of frays Emman and Khan are indispensable and I am thrilled to welcome them.
Sincere thanks likewise go to our perennial writers, Frays Jimmy Cura, Jigs Villaflores, Earl Marasigan, Mike Plana, Pete Nunez, Joel Gabriel and Celso Paguntalan. A few other frays have begged off for this issue due to conflicting unscheduled commitment. Fr. Ojie Ojoy’s homily and reflection on Letran’s 400th year anniversary have given us a good variety of content. And as always, thanks to the unwavering support from our technical guru, fray Joel Gabriel.
It is with deep sadness that we remember the passing of some of our brothers, most notably and unexpectedly, fray Paolo Zaragoza. Fray Paolo has charmed our previous issue with a number of handpicked award-winning photographs. He will be missed badly. Covid19 hits home hard and did not spare anyone who put themselves unwittingly in harm’s way. Thank you, fray Pete, for writing up a beautiful tribute. Nobody else can do it better as you are privy to some highlights in his life.
I am privileged to be the first to read the message of our president, fray Mike Plana. His immense spirituality is inspiring and praiseworthy. His benevolence is innate and spontaneous. Here’s the guy who is surrounded by material wealth, who’s juggling business and family priorities and keeping work and family balance in check. Despite all this, Fray Mike has never waver on his charitable commitment, always lending himself out as the ubiquitous president of FSDPI, reaching out to members in need and giving back to communities as part of his corporate social responsibility. FSDPI is lucky to have fray Mike on top of the leadership ladder. Mabuhay ka, fray Mike! We pray for you more than ever. May God the Father, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our father St. Dominic, bestow on you good health so you may continue to be the energetic instrument of grace for the destitute and light for those who tread in darkness.
I would like to believe that humanity is getting nearer to seeing that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Caution is still being exhorted when it comes to self-protection from covid19 infection though. Face mask and social distancing are still being enforced and remain the order of day. We still can’t let our guard off yet. But as cases worldwide keep spiking in record high and new variant of the virus is being reported in Europe and Africa, truckloads of shipments delivering vaccines in the US and Canada have begun and thousands and soon millions of North Americans will have been inoculated with the first part of the vaccine. It may be a long trek to the very end of the tunnel but we’re heading there, slowly and surely.
At 5:00 pm on Christmas day, as I keep plugging away in front of my laptop, the light has not shone its last of the day yet. Rays of sunshine still shining through the open slats of my window blinds but outside is cold and damp though temperature refuses to dip below zero yet. So far we continue to experience a seasonably milder weather this year, knock on wood. However, we were lucky to have ample snow accumulation on the ground on Christmas eve that on the very day of Christmas we can call it literally White Christmas. For whatever meaning it connotes, for charms of a wonderful day and holy night, may I wish you all a merry white Christmas. Indeed, there is light at the end of every tunnel. Join me in procession from the enduring 10 months full of negative developments and towards the bright end of our long walk out of the tunnel. Cheers to the season’s joyful end and hope for peace and love for the new year.
I only had time to view and listen to the pre-recorded talks of our revered…