Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Tree

It has been reported in the American news media the past week or so that an elementary school in Frisco, Texas in the United States has banned the use of Christmas trees within its premises and has also forbidden students to use the colors red and green in its annual winter party.  The principal of the school explained that the the local Board of Education is enforcing the policy that "no religious belief or non-belief shall be promoted by the district and its employees" and that the school "didn't want to offend any families and since each family donates money (to the party), (it) feels that this is the best policy."

The ban surprisingly came just after Texas Governor Rick Perry signed recently into law the so called Merry Christmas Bill which essentially allows students and school staff to freely discuss and celebrate holidays as they please. Many parents and concerned Texas residents have been outraged and have angrily spoken up to condemn what they felt was political correctness carried to the extreme by the administrative staff of the Nichols Elementary School .

In Lianga like everywhere else in the Philippines and in most Christian nations all over the world, nothing else epitomizes and symbolizes the Yuletide season than the ubiquitous Christmas tree. In this town, it is even a more common component of the traditional Christmas dressing-up of homes than the more indigenous Filipino parol (Christmas star) or belen (nativity crèche or tableau), a fact that quickly is obvious to someone who takes the time to go around and visit the houses of relatives, friends and acquaintances here this Yuletide season.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dying Beautifully

Seventeen years ago my father died peacefully in his sleep and in the manner he always said he wanted  to leave this world - without fuss, without unnecessary pain and without subjecting his family to the rigors and demands of a death coming only after a protracted and prolonged bout with some dreaded and debilitating disease.

He had lived a rich and full life, most of it lived in the service of others. He had been a physician and healer for most of his life, a rare artist with the surgeon's knife, a tool which he wielded with such consummate skill and panache that stories of the many medical miracles he had wrought in the operating room in his time are still being told and even embellished to this day among old-timers here in Lianga.

When he went to sleep on that night many many years ago and did not wake up at dawn as he normally did for the most of his life, he was already a much loved and respected man in this town. In death, lying serenely in bed with the bed covers unrumpled and with nary a trace of discomfort on his face, he was the picture of a man who had left life with no regrets and with no hint of bitterness or ambivalence. It was the way he always wanted to go, quietly and quickly.

It has often been taken as an article of the wisdom of the ancients that a man reaps what he sows.  Thus it is a sure consequence of divine justice for a man to pass on to the next world in a way that is commensurate with the manner in which he had lived his life. Bloodthirsty warmongers and merciless killers of men are believed to be fated to end their lives just as violently and in the same sickeningly bloody fashion with which they gleefully dispatched from life their helpless victims.