Connect with us

Blogs

Celebrating Christmas alone is more than just rocking around the Christmas tree

The reality, however, is the polar opposite. Christmas — along with an abundance of (faux) gaiety making the last leg of 2020 bearable — is not spared from the ruckus created by the pandemic.

Published

on

Photo by Joshua Herrera/ Unsplash

In an alternate Christmas reality, the morning mist accompanying us in our ​Misa de Gallos​ is welcomed with an ardor for its skin-pricking merriment without an air of hesitation. We roam the crowded streets, admiring the annual parols adorned with Christmas lights hung on every lamppost. We take for granted how we can have a glimpse of people’s faces as we try to avoid the slightest window of eye contact when shopping in a crowded mall. The hugs at our Christmas gatherings are met with an awkward dance of how tight our hugs should be or how long. Despite the minuscule struggles of accustoming ourselves in the physical language of others, we get to embrace what we were used to.

The reality, however, is the polar opposite. Christmas — along with an abundance of (faux) gaiety making the last leg of 2020 bearable — is not spared from the ruckus created by the pandemic.

Home alone fiasco
MaCaulay Culkin’s portrayal of Kevin in the Christmas cult classic, ​Home Alone​ (1990), fueled the fantasy that celebrating Christmas alone is a league of its own (even though he celebrates not on his own volition, but because *not so spoiler alert* his family forgot to bring him along to their Christmas trip). It does not work for everybody though and we rarely encounter people who celebrate Christmas in the Philippines alone. For one, our country is collectivist as a culture, which includes putting great value on nurturing the close-knit ties we have with our family and friends.

As for those who celebrate Christmas in isolation and away from their families before the pandemic, they know it was a conscious option privy to those who had the choice of making one.

Now, Christmas in isolation is neither a trope carved out of a movie or a self-curated choice. Christmas in isolation today is making an abrupt peace with the fact that most celebrations of Misa De Gallo​ are mediated by the internet, that fewer parols lit the road at night, and that swerving the annual (closely personal) questions of your titos and titas would be put off for another year or so. Christmas in isolation is a sensible necessity in trying to lessen the aggravations brought by this pandemic.

Photo from Reddit

Not everybody, however, is prepared to actualize the ‘Home Alone’ musings, even with months of practicing quarantine measures giving us a headstart in isolation. Quick searches on the internet will tell us how to celebrate Christmas alone, which are tailor-made for those who are doing so because of the pandemic. Some suggest to recreate and create traditions that are a compromise from what one is used to like celebrating Christmas going through the family’s favorite films or badly recreating the macaroni salad recipe that your mother tirelessly makes every Christmas eve. Almost every article suggests that Zoom karaoke or “e-nom” hangouts ease the lack of interaction, and even if it does not measure up to the actual thing, it is better than not having it at all.

READ  Memories of December

More than just rocking around the Christmas tree
Despite every internet manual that instructs what one — who will be celebrating Christmas alone this year — should do to celebrate the (supposedly) happiest season known to mankind, there are tangled yarns of thoughts curled up in a ball that still have a hard time fitting in the crevices of people’s anatomy but need acknowledgment.

Firstly, the changes brought by the pandemic took every individual in a sweeping motion. The holidays are no exception to these changes, and it is especially jarring for us Filipinos as our holidays are synonymous with fiestas and reunions. It may take a lot of emotions to adjust to the idea that we won’t be surrounded by people we value. If all persuasion fails, we should give ourselves permission to let the Christmas shapeshift into an ordinary day of staying in because, sometimes, the holiday is not all about having to desperately find something worth celebrating if there is none.

Secondly, having the capacity to celebrate and prepare for Christmas in isolation as part of the quarantine measures is a privilege itself that not everybody is provided with. Some may be dealing with financial limitations as byproducts of the pandemic, while others may be emotionally fragile to even deal with the thought of being alone. Although these examples may sound like a taunting infliction of guilt upon those who will celebrate Christmas alone, it is a mere reminder that there is a greater feat beyond these age-old traditions.

Embracing Christmas solitude
“Kapag may itinuro sa’yo ang pag-iisa, yakapin mo”​ (“When solitude teaches you something, embrace it”), the closing credit reads in an episode of one of the most popular web BL series written by Juan Miguel Severo, ​Gaya sa Pelikula​. The quote flashes after showing one of the protagonists realizing important things after celebrating Christmas alone.

Do not be fooled for it is neither a romanticization that glamorizes isolation during the Christmas season nor an attempt to downplay the struggles combing through its actuality. Rather, it poses as a comforting idea that through all this, there is and always will be a greater trade-off at the end. We just have to get through Christmas while rocking around the Christmas tree alone — for now.

Comments

Blogs

How ‘Attack on Titan’ revolves around the compromise of freedom and revolution

‘Attack on Titan’ is not your typical zombie apocalyptic genre. It’s an experience, and it has changed.

Published

on

Screengrab from ‘Attack on Titan’

‘Attack on Titan’ is not your typical zombie apocalyptic genre. It’s an experience, and it has changed. 

Through one of my major classes, I grasped the role of diplomacy and foreign relations as I slowly began to outgrow prejudices I’ve had with my own country and other countries. When we see our coexistence with the world, we see how we’re not different from the rest. How catastrophic would that be if we chose to resist openness and turn a blind eye to see both the good and ugly realities of the world?

Questioning morality and freedom is perfectly contextualized in the immaculate storytelling of Isayama Hajime’s ‘Attack on Titan’. First released in 2009, the highly-acclaimed fantasy-action shounen manga and anime has drawn many fans on an international scale, living to its hype and success through its consistency in fusing elements of action, fantasy, horror, and thrill. The plot circulates over Eren Yeager, who vowed to save humanity by killing all the Titans, the gigantic humanoid antagonists that have devoured humans, and his mother. However, as the story progresses, its archetypal shounen narrative of simply defeating the Titans shifts towards significant themes of politics, war, philosophy, and history intertwined. 

It tactfully combines emotionally-driven arcs paired with music that enforces ferocity, nationalism, tragedy, and despair. Each frame and panel is gracefully animated with precision, reflecting the artistry and dedication of the creators in cultivating the series’ magnificent world-building. The abundance of subtexts and relevant themes is portrayed through allegories, symbolism, and critiques of humanity’s adverse upbringing. Fair warning: anime spoilers ahead!

*Trigger warning: Mention of violence, human experimentation, and trauma

Historical Revisionism, Racism, and Fascism: The Tragedy of Reiner Braun 

Screengrab from ‘Attack on Titan’

As we perceived the world through the universe of Paradis, we’ve rooted for the Eldian protagonists left to save the last of humanity within their walls. We were introduced to the Marleyans, who presented themselves as a larger enemy than the Titans. Unbeknownst to the Eldian protagonists, the entire world ostracized them as the “devils of the Earth” after their ancestor, Ymir Fritz, gained the power of the Titan through a deal with the Devil and propagated the grim Titan war. Oppressing nations through the Titans’ blood lineage and ethnic cleansing for decades, the Eldian upheaval was successful when the Marleyans finally conquered the world by obtaining 7 out of 9 Titan shifters the ability to transform into a Titan and a human. 

Due to indoctrination and Marley imperialism, relentless hate and discrimination were spewed primarily against the Eldians within the walls of Paradis. Weaponizing the Titans for world domination, human experimentation, and slavery was a pervasive punishment for the Eldian refugees to atone for their ancestors’ sins. 

Screengrab from ‘Attack on Titan’

Reiner Braun was an Eldian Titan child soldier that was a victim of the Marleyan propagandistic mission that sent off candidates to infiltrate the Eldians of Paradis (they deemed as the Evil Eldians) to obtain the Founding Titan, the supreme ability to take control over the Titans. In a horrifying betrayal, it was revealed that Reiner and Bertholdt Hoover were the traitorous Titan shifters that nearly annihilated humanity years ago when they breached Wall Maria. Being disguised as a Survey Corps comrade has resulted in Reiner’s split personality, causing him to be torn with guilt between his soldier and warrior persona. After realizing that the Eldians are just normal as them who faced the same human conflict, and not the ‘devils’ the Marleyans made them be, he struggled with being a double-agent. He was just another victim of the fascist propaganda that brainwashed children to bring victory to their nation. Regardless, you want someone to be held accountable after they have slaughtered bloodshed and exterminated irreplaceable lives. If the Eldians would have won the war, would they have made themselves the heroes that have slain the evil as well? If so, which historical narrative is right? Who do we side with? 

As it highlights the damage of the glorification of military and fascism, ‘Attack on Titan’ performs a penetrating and coherent approach in alluding to the complexity of prejudice and war, the importance of history, and understanding different perspectives through Reiner’s narrative. 

Military Censorship, Class Struggle, and Corruption: Levi Ackerman and Erwin Smith’s Enigma

Screengrab from Attack on Titan

As the Marleyans thrived in power, domination, and technological advancement, our protagonists faced boundless struggles of gloom and melancholy due to endless casualties and issues within Paradis. The three walls, Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina, divided the lower class, upper class, and royalty. While the Survey Corps zealously dedicated their life to saving humanity and protecting the royalty, the Royal Government put a premium on protecting their positions in the class hierarchy while being apathetic towards the lower class and refugees. Here, corruption was rampant as they were gatekeepers of true information on the outside world and resources. Their misuse of funding has resulted in class struggles and the impoverished seeking refuge in the Underground City, a crime-ridden district where Levi Ackerman was initially from. After his mother passed away, his uncle Kenny raised and taught him the essential defense and knife skills. Though he was groomed as a notorious heist member, his skills were put to good use when Commander Erwin Smith recruited him in the Scout Regiment. Levi and Erwin helped overthrow the corrupt regime through a coup d’état and emancipated progressive change with recrowned Queen Historia Reiss when they created an orphanage for the Underground citizens with proper allocation of the Royal Family’s budget. 

Despite their quintessential role as revolutionary soldiers and leaders, the series never fails to humanize their characters, representing their emotional state in the face of powerlessness and helplessness. In Levi’s troubled background, his misdemeanor has transformed into one of the most significant developments of someone who replaces apathy with care and respect by defending the collective masses, pulling the destitute from the rear end of the class hierarchy, and placing his comrades before himself. Even on the brink of death, Erwin zealously places his life on the line in upholding utmost leadership, eradicating military censorship, and practicing dignity in fighting for humanity relentlessly. 

Morality and Freedom: Eren Yeager and the Axiom for Freedom

Screengrab from ‘Attack on Titan’

“If we kill our enemies on the other side, will we finally be free?” He asks, aimlessly staring at the ocean. 

The one-dimensional persona of Eren Yeager as the main character was continually challenged from his linear ideals of attaining freedom and revenge to learning the complexity of the world on the other side of the walls. From tormenting events of betrayal, trauma, and dehumanization, his aphorisms of vowing to kill the Titans to save humanity and using the Titans for his extremist ultimatums of freedom have displayed his development as the protagonist and antagonist of the story. His moral ambiguity allows him to accept that he is only special and significant because he has Titan powers. Disappointed by the existence of other humans and civilizations beyond, all he could think about was the enemies on the other side as he reached the ocean he once longed for. The innocent look of a simple boy that gleamed with a hunger for discovery and justice is now a cyclical, manipulative, and mass-murdering enemy, with all the hatred the world has thrown upon him. 

I find it dramatically complex and beautiful when the disruption of loyalties and ideologies are placed on a threshold when former enemies and friends turned their back on him to save the world, while he turned his back on the world to save them. 

Either way, it risks someone’s life and ends in pain, which can be similarly contextualized with the philosophical dilemma of the Trolley problem. Will you push the lever, saving the five and killing the one? Or will you simply watch the train continue on its path, hence killing the five?

Illustration by Jesse Prinz on subcortex.com

Before it surfaced as a meme, Philippa Foot sparked this influential question in 1976 and was commonly raised in moral ethics and psychology. While the majority chose the “greater good”, professors made each prompt more personal and emotion-driven by exemplifying someone we were close to on the tracks. In this sense, Eren chooses to save who he is closest to, in order to be truly free and end the curse of endless chaos, rendering the death of millions. But can we blame him after the whole world celebrated while the Paradis Eldians endured monsters and hell inside the walls and were denounced as the enemies? 

The fallibility of identifying the true heroes and villains leaves the audience with an overwhelmed sense of uncertainty, as different perspectives and layers are presented.  But maybe, that is Isayama’s genius discernment — to make us think. The character’s different upbringings, environments, and ideologies show that there is neither a good nor bad guy. Every act is justifiably done for what they see as the common good in their eyes like two sides of the same coin with a different definition of justice. However, is it too late to change and find the midpoint? 

Although humorous yet unfortunate, the ongoing pandemic made several people compare the Titan serums to the contention of the elite getting the cream of the crop of the COVID-19 vaccines exclusively while the underprivileged get the short end of the stick. Even in the face of the most abhorring adversity, plague, or monsters unleashed from hell, it is the frailty and corruption of our human nature that turns us into our own enemies, winding in a repetitive cycle of chaos — to keep moving forward until our means meet the end. 

From the Game of Thrones to the Walking Dead, we hope that ‘Attack on Titan’ won’t fall into the same hole of critically-acclaimed series that eventually slump into a dissatisfying finale. As anime watchers howl in excitement for every action scene, manga readers anticipate for things to fall into place. Watch Eren’s Declaration of War against the Marleyans and the world in the ongoing season finale! Will he finally achieve freedom or be a slave to the pursuit of freedom?

See you, when this sublime and unmatched tale is engraved in history, 2000 years from now. Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro

Comments

Continue Reading

Blogs

Why new year’s resolutions don’t always work out

If your resolutions made it to this week, congrats. If not, here are some reasons why you chose to ditch them. 

Published

on

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Whenever ancient Babylonians crowned or asserted their loyalty to their king, they promised to the gods that they would pay their debts or return things they borrowed. If they keep their end of the bargain, favor would be bestowed upon them. This pagan ritual is said to be the precedent of our annual New Year’s resolutions.

A new year calls for new beginnings. With everything we’ve gone through last year, it’s no strange fact that we all badly want to turn over a new leaf. At this point, our social media feeds are most likely filled with ‘New Year, New Me’ posts along with dozens of resolutions that claim to be effective and easy. But no matter how realistic we set them to be, we still end up bouncing back on old habits. 

If your resolutions made it to this week, congrats. If not, here are some reasons why you chose to ditch them. 

1. Your goals overwhelm you

We all want to be the best versions of ourselves this year. Not only do we set the bar too high, but we also set too much for ourselves. By the time we attempt to begin some resolutions, we tend to give up after a few tries because we have too much on our plate. We have so many things we want to accomplish, yet we have so little time, which can be stressful rather than rewarding.

Your goals don’t have to be as many as that of a grocery list. Prioritize setting resolutions that are sustainable despite how few it may seem. These can include waking up early, cleaning your room once a week, or having a 20-minute study break. Also, instead of carrying out your resolutions all at once, try to divide them into weekly or monthly goals. Just because you wrote them on the first day of the year, it doesn’t mean you have to start them right away. Working at your own pace would greatly help in escaping the stress of having to do so much in one day to the point that it feels like a chore. Remember, quality over quantity. 

2. Your resolutions are too restrictive

Whether it’s trying out a fad diet or limiting your shopping expenses, they are both goals that bar you from things that satisfy your inner psyche. Sure, you may end up sticking to it for a few days or weeks. But once you begin to feel that void of serotonin, the next thing you know, you’re checking out items from your cart in Shopee or Lazada’s monthly sale. 

Restrictive goals tend to be unsustainable because they alter our normal behavior, which is why we inevitably break them. Instead of imposing limits on your habits, try to make them more inclusive. Having trouble maintaining your weight? Take the healthy route and choose foods that are rich in nutrients and minerals. Losing weight doesn’t have to be quick and easy. Feeling guilty about your purchases? Splurge on items that will actually benefit your daily lifestyle such as space organizers and home essentials, not those decors that will only end up gathering dust in your room. Believe me, you don’t need a mini statue of an astronaut cat. 

3. You do it alone

Most resolutions tend to fail because we lack motivation or commitment in achieving them. It can also be difficult when you try to change habits on your own and the people around you have lifestyles that work against it. One way to prevent your goals from going down the drain is having someone to share those goals with. As they say, two are better than one. 

Changing for the better with others promotes a mutualistic relationship where both parties equally benefit from each other. Together, you can keep track of your goals and make sure that you don’t end up cheating your way out of it. Having that boost of encouragement from others would definitely increase your chances of success and make activities even more fun. So if you’re still crafting your resolutions for this year, reach out to a friend or two. If not, try joining support groups on Facebook. Who knows? You might find people who share the same goals as you do. 

4. You are not the problem, your resolutions are

When writing down our resolutions for this year, we tend to focus on goals that would help enhance our physique such as exercising everyday or sticking to a strict diet. These will surely appease all the fitness gods, but in reality, we still find ourselves eating junk food while watching Netflix or cooking pancit canton at three in the morning. 

More often than not, we find ourselves setting goals that focus on what we should be doing rather than what we want to do. We tend to set our resolutions based on other people’s expectations like getting that post-quarantine body or having that aesthetic lifestyle for the sake of bragging about it on Instagram and TikTok. So, instead of being better versions of ourselves, we only end up creating another manufactured persona for everyone’s liking on social media. Talk about real-life ‘Nosedive’, huh? 

If you know exercising at the crack of dawn is not your cup of tea and you’d rather want to spend those hours bundled up in your bed, then go ahead and don’t do it. The only thing stopping you is your own urge to conform to other people’s standards. 

5. You only focus on one side of the coin

Typical resolutions focusing on finance and fitness are materialistic. Some may argue that having tangible goals is better because seeing it unfold before their eyes leads to greater satisfaction. However, they merely encapsulate our attempts to pursue happiness indirectly. 

Cliché as it may sound, gaining happiness directly through simple actions outweighs all the taxing and tedious goals we try to set up. 

Start by being more grateful. Remind yourself to say thank you for the simple things and to the people you meet. To the security guard who opened the door for you, say thank you. To your friends who made an effort to reply to your messages, say thank you. Better yet, take time out from your busy schedule everyday to write a few things you are grateful for. It can indeed be difficult to stay optimistic considering the situation we are in right now, but a simple gesture goes a long way in benefiting your mental health for the better.

Resolve your worries by forgiving. In the past year, we’ve all had things or people that really tested our limits as a person. Carrying that grudge throughout this year would not only be burdensome, but would also take a great toll on your well-being. It may seem difficult to do but it can go two ways: forgiveness towards those who wronged you and forgiveness towards yourself. While working out enhances your physique, forgiving improves your self-esteem and relationship with yourself and others. We’ve already had our fair share of toxicity last year and the last thing we want is for it to persist and make us feel worse than we already are. 

We all have high hopes for the new year and our resolutions are a reflection of that. As we gather in prayer circles, we manifest that 2021 would finally free us from the desolation and anxiety that the past year held us with. With that said, I think that one of the best resolutions we can write for ourselves is to get through this year safely and healthily. May this, along with all the resolutions we wrote or are about to write, allow us to step out as improved individuals for the better. 

Comments

Continue Reading

Blogs

New Year’s Eve Playlist: House Party

It’s time to bust out your dance moves.

Published

on

Artwork by Patricia Jardin

It is finally time to bid adieu to 2020. Our current circumstances may have put our usual new year traditions to a halt. But being able to conquer all the ups and downs we’ve been through this year is enough reason to still celebrate.

Whether you’re leaping into the new year with your loved ones or cuddled alone in your room, you’ll need a soundtrack to close this year. Release all your worries and wishes as we welcome 2021 with hope and positivity.

It’s time to bust out your dance moves.

From all of us at TomasinoWeb, happy new year!

Comments

Continue Reading

Trending