Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Firecrackers to rid us of bad luck of the past year

December 29, 2008

There is urgency in the young man who works fast at a deadline. He is one of the fire-cracker makers in one of the busy pyrotechnics hub in Bulacan from where many fireworks on the streets come from. Dirtied by gunpowder and grime, the man rushes firecracker production in his make-shift factory during the Christmas holiday, oblivious of the risks it poses on his life and on his neighbor.

Revelers this Christmas and new year seek to buy fireworks for their rowdy celebration. By our tradition, the bang and bright display are ways to mark the coming year —the Filipino merry-making which doubles as an occasion to ward off bad luck.

According to our folk beliefs detonating firecrackers is needed to invite life’s good forces on the first day of the year. Whether this is true or not, we are thrilled by the spark and sound of firecrackers. A fast buck can be gained by trading watusi, bawang, “belt of judas, and lolo when the demand is there.

Body injuries and burns are some of fireworks’ drawbacks. Eardrums have been ruptured by the loud blasts. Explosive debris have pierced the eyes. Houses have been gutted down and many mutilations and deaths have been reported. Last year, the Department of Health (DOH,) has listed about 750 fire-cracker injuries. Public hospitals are now on alert in anticipation for those who may be brought to the emergency rooms.

As of December 21, 2008, it was reported that of the 119 holiday-related injuries documented, 115 were from firecrackers and fireworks,, 3 were gunshot wounds and 1 from ingestion of watusi.

There is obviously a need to regulate the use of pyrotechnics for the protection of the public. Shoddy manufacture of firecrackers brings problems of safety, giving a boost to the sale of the ones imported abroad. There’s little implementation of laws—even gunfires and pistol shots are recklessly substituted for fireworks at the height of celebration. Though most of us know the dangers, the relentless campaign for the safe use of fireworks during holidays remains a job in progress.(Photo Credits: _gem_s; Reuters/ Ranoco, Romeo; Reuters/Ranoco, Romeo; persesverando)=0=


Pope Benedict XVI pleads for unity in the face of economic crisis

December 25, 2008

Amidst the message of joy and hope on Christmas day, December 25, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the world with a reminder of difficulties that lie ahead as people across the globe face the economic downturn.

From the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the supreme leader of Catholics warned against greed which could exacerbate the massive job lay-offs, house forfeitures, and poverty sweeping many nations. He pleaded for poor and rich nations alike to set aside selfishness and work together in unity.

“Wherever the selfishness of individuals and groups prevails over the common good … may the light of Christmas shine forth and encourage all people to do their part in a spirit of authentic solidarity…. If people look only to their own interests, our world will certainly fall apart,” said the Pope.—PDI/AP/AFP (12/25/08}

On celebration of Jesus’ birthday, he touched on the suffering of the African people particularly in trouble-riddled countries like Zimbabwe, Congo, Sudan, and Somalia where political upheavals and socio-economic hardships persist. He denounced terrorism and violence. Heard by thousands who gathered at the basilica’s square, he lamented the unresolved conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

At the Christmas midnight mass he officiated, the pontiff recalled the neglected poor children who fall victims of abuse and he prayed for those left on the streets to fend for themselves or forced to fight in wars. He said the world must do all it can to stop the suffering of the unfortunate people of the world. (Photo Credits: Reuters/ Osservatore Romano; Sam_herd)=0=


UP Ibalon Bicol Sends Christmas Peace & Love to the World

December 25, 2008

To Everybody,
I am sending my warmest greetings to everybody this Christmas 2008 and may 2009 be a better year for all. God bless
.—Edna Fatima

Malipayong Pasko!—Mighty

Gusto man daa maki celebrate ning x’mas sa kagharong saka nagpapamati na kuta na bako gabos karne ang handa tanganing may maitatao saiyang tunok ning sira. Wishing You and Your Family a Joyous Christmas—Carmela

Wishing you and everyone else a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! I’m intrigued by that cat in the window. ‘musta ka na man tabi? hahaha…. Hello Wilms, Ika daw… Thanks for the pat on the back! Just google up Ibalon Bicol and go to older posts. Happy holidays!… Thanks a lot,Totie and Andy. I’m just as happy to join you in trying to push our blog to greater heights. Happy holidays to you and everyone!—Bambi

Merry Christmas to all, Mwaah!—Wilma

Sarong Maogma asin Tuninong na Pasko para sa Gabos!—Ona

Merry Christmas! May the Lord keep you and your loved ones safe, prosperous, healthy and safe in 2009! And may you experience always the comforts of home, wherever this may be.— Benny, Ruth, Benje and Monique Rayco


Sa gabos,
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Para sa gabos, Maogmang Kamundagan! Pagkamoot ang regalo ko sa gabos. Magpadagos man lugod sa 2009 ang grasyang nag-aabot satuya gabos maski nasa tahaw kita kan pangkinaban na krisis.—Pit

Siring man saindo gabos, kinda Carmela, Bambi, Pit, Mighty, Momok, Dan, Miles, Arnel M, Ray, Butch, Bingbing, Annelee, Rose, Abet, Sabu, Asena, Penny, Darius, Totoy, Delen, Ann, Jess, Mickey, Andy, Amy, Zards, Sammy V, Benny, Arnel A, Ona, Eden, Vines, Min, Gods, Fems, May…..Basta si gabos! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!—Totie

Hello Dear Friends!
The spirit of Christmas is in the peace, joy and hope that it brings. May it touch your heart today and always. And may the good Lord shower you all with more blessings.

PS: Bambi! Dont forget to drop by our house when you go home this Christmas. We don’t reside in Mayao anymore — dun na kami sa old house namin in Ilaor Norte. See ya! Merry Xmas sa gabos! Medyo mag-ogma na habang dai pa marhay nasipa an krisis sato. Next hope I hope we will have a stronger org and a better website.—Mickey

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year sa gabos!—Miles

As we celebrate the true reason for this wonderful season, we reflect on the blessings we received this year and we rejoice in the thought that caring people like you have touched our lives, individually or as a family, in more ways than one.

May we fill our hearts with the music of love and may we all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! —Gods, Julie and Thia Lanuza


Happy New Year to All—Dan

“Best wishes to the whole family!”—Zards

Happy New Year to All—Momok

(Photo Credits: CarmelaLapic; StephenC/ photoluluguy; StephenC/ Photoluluguy; Photoluluguy; Cjerogel; Photoluluguy; StephenC/ photolulguy)=0=


Christmas Day Thought: “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus”—Virginia complained in 1897

December 24, 2008

Prodded by her father to write Francis Pharcellus Church, the editor of the New York Sun to ask about the hard question about Santa Claus, Virginia O’ Hanlon of New York City got the following response from the newspaperman more than a hundred years ago:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the
communication below, expressing at the same time
our great gratification that its faithful author is
numbered among the friends of The Sun.”—Francis P. Church

Dear Editor,

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

—Virginia O’Hanlon

The Editor’s Reply to Virginia About the Truth of Santa Claus


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”—-Source: ( Photo Credits: David Wilcot; Reuters/ Prath Sanyal;; Rev_Bri; Tanya Mass; Stich)

RELATED BLOG: “Yes Virginia, there is Santa Claus!”—remembering Francis Church and the little child in Virginia O’Hanlon Posted by mesiamd at 12/25/2008


“Yes Virginia, there is Santa Claus!”—remembering Francis Church and the little child in Virginia O’Hanlon

December 24, 2008

For me, one of the best written lores about Christmas was the editorial written by Francis Pharcellus Church, which came out on September 21, 1897 edition of the New York Sun for the little 8-year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon (1889-1971.)

A mature seasoned reporter and son of a Baptist minister who wrote for newspapers during the Civil War, Francis saw how people suffered because of the dearth of optimism and the usualness of alienation in society. The question he received from Virginia about Santa Claus by mail and his well-thought reply hugged the imagination of those who read them.

“Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter: “Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.”

Born in Manhattan, Virginia was the daughter of an Upper Eastside assistant coroner. Her complete name was Laura Virginia O’Hanlon and she lived a life of the regular kid of her time at 115 West, 95th Street. She grew up to be an accomplished teacher with a BA (1910) and MA (1912) education from Hunter College and Columbia University respectively.

During her life, countless letters found their way in her mailbox asking about Santa Claus and her unexpected fame. To eager fans, she recounted how her story influenced her life in a wholesome way. Having briefly married with one child, she in old age lived in a nursing home after her retirement from decades of teaching. She passed away on May 17, 1971 at the age of 81 and was interred in a quiet rural burial ground in Chatham, New York. The newspaper New York Sun folded up in 1949. The original letter she sent the newspaper was pasted in a scrapbook which her relatives keep till this day.

I had some emotional reaction banging on my chest each time I read the immortal correspondence of Francis and Virginia. I had memories of how I regarded Christmas as a boy. The idea that the world would be so dreary if there was no Santa Claus because of skepticism made me panicky. The stockings I placed behind the yuletide tree at home for Santa was so real. There was the off-tune Christmas carol about Santa that I sang for our next-door neighbor. It earned me less than a dime, but nonetheless made me very happy. Attendance to the pre-Christmas midnight mass and watching the nativity scene were as gratifying as the long waits I did for the dawn break-ins of the mysterious bearded man with gifts for children from a magical sleigh.

Time was benevolent on Virginia. It transformed her 64 million dollar query and Francis’ answer into a masterpiece, perhaps the most endearing Christmas editorial ever written in America.

From her moving story came the beloved quip “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” All children of the world must have asked their fathers and mothers like Virginia before their fleeting periods of innocence pass by. More than a hundred years went and the whole world still struggles with cynicism, self-doubt, and materialism. People continue to dig what true Christmas really means for all of us. (Photo Credit: Andy_Atsaka;;; Karen Navarro/ AP; Andy_Atsaka; Manuel Silvestre/ AP ; Scott Feldstein) =0=


UP Lantern Parade 2008

December 22, 2008

On Wednesday, December 17, 2008 the University of the Philippines (UP) staged its Christmas lantern parade to the delight of the students and the entire school. The show of lanterns did not come with the usual multi-sided illuminated stars, the traditional symbols of the light which brought the three wise men to Jesus in the manger. Instead, attractive parols like luminous heavenly bodies in the sky thrilled the crowd.

“This is the best of them all,” says former school president Jose Abueva of the annual holiday event. He explains the significance of the exhibition which marks the end of the school’s colorful centennial year.

The gleaming display materialized from the modern-day artistic imagination of Diliman’s educational hub— better known as the government-funded people’s “national university.” Stunning bright contraptions under the cover of the evening’s shadows ignited the pageantry. In the backdrop of trees and “the oblation” the occasion drew elated on-lookers as the night set in.

Hordes of dolled-up merry-makers wearing garish masks and eclectic gaudy costumes came. They clowned, danced, and laughed to mark another distinctive Filipino Christmas. Fireworks, music, and lights entertained those who attended. (Photo Credit: Lynnzy; Lynnzy; Lynzzy)=0=

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Marfo Manibay’s photo share & some Christmas thoughts through the years…

December 22, 2008

“Let’s stop this nonsense of calling Christmas as a plain holiday. Don’t they look around? It’s the dazzling season of Jesus, the greatest guy who ever lived.”—AFM

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”—Norman Vincent Peale

“Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display-so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow. It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again.”– Anonymous

“Christmas–that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance–a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.”— Augusta E. Rundell

Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” —Margaret Thatcher

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
—Charles Dickens (1812-1870)from ‘A Christmas Carol’.



One of the most enduring advisers of Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association of the Tristate Area (OLPDA) is Marfo Manibay of Buhi, Camarines Sur and New Jersey. Shown with OLPDA officer Genevieve del Rosario in the photo, Marfo and supportive wife Fe, a UPian, take behind-the-scene responsibilities of honoring Ina which makes UP Ibalon truly grateful and proud.

At the recently concluded Bicolano Christmas party on December 20, 2008 in Jersey City, Marfo took over the music. It’s no wonder why OLPDA’s Christmas and other celebrations seem easy—happy and meaningful—occasions truly worth remembering.=0=

RELATED BLOG: “OLPDA brings joy to Bicolanos & friends in a New Jersey X’mas party” posted by mesiamd at 12/22/2008

OLPDA brings joy to Bicolanos & friends in a New Jersey X’mas party

December 21, 2008

Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association of Tristate Area, Inc. (OLPDA,) held this year’s fun-filled Christmas celebration at Our Lady of Victory Church in New Jersey last Saturday on December 20, 2008. With the able leadership of Amado (Boy) Cabaero, OLPDA’s current chairman, the occasion brought warmth to Bicolanos and friends who came for the event from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

The meaningful gathering of Bicolanos focused on the Filipino-American family in humble imitation of the holy life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It brought recall the message of faith, hope, and charity which characterize the gladness of the year-end religious holiday.

In an evening of fellowship, friendship, and fun, the event opened with the singing of the national anthems with Virgie Jacobson and Ben Silerio on the podium. It was followed by a sacred invocation and prayers led by Msgr. Jeremias Rebanal, JCD, the group’s spiritual adviser.

Genevieve del Rosario and Virgie Jacobson, the emcees of the evening made sure the scrumptious traditional dinner was served with style and excitement. It was capped with moments of merry conversations and dancing which stretched to the late hours of the evening.

Marfo Manibay brought in the trendy Christmas music that filled the air. Rosalyn Sapalico, Cora Velasco, and Dina Cabaero took charge of the family games. Arnel Binlayo headed the kid’s group of Jersey City. Santa Claus (Butch los Banos of Albay,) in a fiery red costume of the benevolent man from North Pole, played games and gave away gifts to the delight of innocent children enthralled by the sights and sounds of the occasion.

Braving the pinching cold of the icy slush outside (the wet wind of the blustery weather was still blowing over the freshly laden snow,) Josie Anciano-Mendoza, Peng Pena, Tony Rojano, Annie Binaday, Efren Zagada, Lena Nidea, Marietta Mesia, and other ardent Penafrancia devotees were among the early attendees along with Fe Manibay and Chito Velasco who brought along Allen Nidea with children Angeline and Franco.

Brimming with hospitality, Ben Silerio and wife Thelma made sure the guests were in their comfortable places in the company of old and new friends in that capacious social hall bedecked with bright lights, balloons, and the season’s festive colors. Invaluable support came from Dina Briones, Rudy Alcantara, Nylda Surban, Offie Ante and many more who made the night truly especial.

OLPDA adviser Lita Pena and her affable guests came just in time that Gigette Revilleza, Chi Pilar, Rene and Lily Villegas stepped in to greet their respective friends. Their arrival heightened the festive mood of the affair which antedates the planned grand Bicol National Association (BNA) convention slated in July next year.

Towards the close of the event, an impromptu Christmas caroling was initiated by the group which pulled together the voices of revelers in a burst of songs.

With Totie Mesia at the piano, the community singing heard by God in the heavens had Fr. Joe Saltarin and Genevieve del Rosario stirring the crowd to a rousing rendition of nostalgic favorites like Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, Silver Bells, and O Holy Night.

The winsome music welded the bonds of those present. Vice-chairwoman Carmen Oliver who made sure everyone was happy delivered the remarks that ended the memorable evening, making it among the most cherished in years.

It was clear Carmen like all the rest had nothing in mind but the peace, love, and joy for all. =0=


“O samuyang Diyos, tugutan mo lugod
Na samong mahiling ang totoo mong pagkamoot
Kami kupkupon mo, irayo mo tabi
Sa pagtios sagkod sa paghadit.”


Simbang Gabi Sa Nueva York

December 19, 2008

Halina, Jesus, Halina!
Sa simula’y sinaloob mo
O Diyos, kaligtasan ng tao
Sa takdang panahon ay tinatawag mo
Isang bayang lingkod sa iyo.

On a frigid early evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008, Filipinos of New York came in droves to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined the celebration of Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, a traditional mass in celebration of the Christmas holiday. In the packed gothic church along Fifth Avenue, prayerful songs distinctly from the country filled air.

In spite of the chill, there was the warm glow of kababayans wishing each other the peace and love of the season. Among the merry attendees were some members of the Ateneo de Naga Northeast Alumni and Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA.) The holy celebration was led by the Simbang Gabi Sa Katedral, Inc. under the guidance of Rev. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD. =0=


Simbang Gabi Sa Nueva York

December 19, 2008

Halina, Jesus, Halina!
Sa simula’y sinaloob mo
O Diyos, kaligtasan ng tao
Sa takdang panahon ay tinatawag mo
Isang bayang lingkod sa iyo.

On a frigid early evening of Saturday, December 6, 2008, Filipinos of New York came in droves to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined the celebration of Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, a traditional mass in celebration of the Christmas holiday. In the packed gothic church along Fifth Avenue, prayerful songs distinctly from the country filled air.

In spite of the chill, there was the warm glow of kababayans wishing each other the peace and love of the season. Among the merry attendees were some members of the Ateneo de Naga Northeast Alumni and Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA.) The holy celebration was led by the Simbang Gabi Sa Katedral, Inc. under the guidance of Rev. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD. =0=