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Christmas lights going up in towns and cities

Because of the many big events that have held our attention these last few days, we have hardly noticed the changes that are beginning to take place in the streets and plazas of our towns and cities. The bright lights have been turned on in Makati’s business district as well as on Quezon City’s traditional giant Christmas tree in Cubao. The annual animated display opened this weekend at Greenhills, San Juan. More modest Christmas lanterns now light Manila’s streets. Way down in Cebu City, a Christmas tree now towers above a carousel.

It’s only the middle of November and Christmas Day is still six weeks away, but Filipinos will not be held back in celebrating the season. As a matter of fact, Christmas carols started filling the air on the very first day of September.

There is so much happening in our country and around the world today that we hardly notice these changes around us heralding the arrival of this blessed season. We are in the middle of an investigation into the death of mayor, a drug suspect, in a shooting right inside a provincial jail in Leyte. The Supreme Court has just ruled on the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, spurring protests from victims of the martial law regime.

Across the Pacific, the unexpected election of United States President-elect Donald Trump has caused a great deal of apprehension for its possible impact on our growing outsourcing industry and on the remittances of our Overseas Filipino Workers in that country. We may not be much concerned with the violence in the Middle East, but we identify with its victims, especially since it is happening in what should be a season of peace.

We see no end in sight for all the violence, fear, and anger here and in other nations, but we see hope in the signs of Christmas that are now coming out all over our land. On Sunday, November 27, the first of the Advent candles will be lighted in churches in the country. This first candle is the candle of hope, expectation, and faith that the season will somehow bring about peace to troubled people and to troubled lands. Not long after that, on December 16, the cherished tradition of the Simbang Gabi begins.

Lights, lanterns, giant Christmas trees and the Nativity scenes are beginning to brighten our streets and plazas. They are part of the Christmas tradition which, despite all our present troubles, make us Filipinos ever hopeful, ever ready to face our problems, ever confident in the future.