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The worst holiday ever

The holidays often become an avenue of discrimination. Instead of celebrating love and reunion, it becomes a time for our families to insinuate statements that attack our viewpoints and our individuality.



A while ago, there was a group of teenagers who came to my grandma’s gate to sing their Christmas tunes in exchange for coins. It was accompanied by a guitar and with voices that are impossibly good and unfair that only a whole neighbourhood would hear them. Their notes hit the perfect places and strung chords right on my heartstrings.

My cousins could not help but to spare a couple of coins to give for their outstanding performance. After their short-lived gig, they moved on to the next house to bring their harmonies to another household. With this, I realized that Christmas is indeed approaching.

The holidays are a time for celebration, love, reunion, and happiness. This season matters greatly to everyone especially to Filipinos. Some would even book plane tickets to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Some would stay on video call for several hours to celebrate it virtually in events where they cannot physically convene with their loved ones.

Filipinos are also known for setting up Christmas decorations months before the season. This has become a tradition that has never faded among Filipinos. Their value of the holidays contribute greatly to the spirit of Christmas would like to bring.

Not every Christmas is perfect. A relative would be sick, the milk put on the fruit salad might be expired, the gift for our nephew might be delivered as the year approaches its end, or someone else is still stuck in traffic. And last to mention, comments from our family. In retrospect, how harmless could those be?

For over the past couple of years, I have not been the subject of my family’s comments on my identity and viewpoints. I have been a mere spectator of these happenings in Christmas as I slowly indulge on the smoked salmon at the far end of the table. I once was the victim of the harmless, “may boyfriend ka na ba?” as I was approaching legality.

My family saw me grow up as a slender heterosexual woman as what I am now. In today’s society, that still constitutes and individual as a perfect being because it is what’s dictated to be desirable these days. My cousin who is a few years older – young, beautiful, and slender – has not been a subject of these comments. I feel lucky to be invincible of those comments yet; I feel that there is a responsibility I have to do. Not because I am who I say I am but because there’s something wrong with how we converse during the holidays.

A few Christmases ago, I overheard my aunt exclaim to my cousin, “Macaria, ang taba taba mo na,” and as if that wasn’t enough, she added, “Mag-diet ka nga!”. My cousin simply dismissed it by nodding at the remark.

This has been a recurring practice every holiday. It would often serve as an insult on a day to day basis. In the long run, it has been normalized. I noticed that she does not mind about it anymore but who am I to know what she actually feels about it? I’m a perfect person after all.

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Macaria is two years older than I am. We are the same except that she is curvy and I am not. She does not fit the embodiment of what a perfect person is because of her figure. I know my family means well but the comments get disparaging from time to time. It has been been baneful to the spirit of Christmas. But Macaria’s situation is not the only case that I have heard of this problem.

My friend’s sister brought home her significant other for the holidays to introduce to their family. One of my friend’s relatives would comment on the flamboyance of her cousin’s significant other and press on the person if he is of the homosexual persuasion. The person made it clear that he was not however, her relative still made such remarks to insist that they are right to further poke on his sexuality.

To pay respects and to avoid conflict, he just smiled and my friend’s sister just gave out a sigh. Their relative changed the topic and carried on with the ignorance of their actions.

These comments would be thrown out of the drain the next day. It would later be recycled for the next holiday (or perhaps, it could’ve been “improved” as something else more). It would seem like the nature and spirit of the holidays are still intact because most of us—people in our generation, would prefer to stay silent to not stir up the pot of contradictions our families would throw us.

To be different and to side with what is right—whether be it topics on rights and equality—is simply seen as wrong by our elders.

The holidays often become an avenue of discrimination. Instead of celebrating love and reunion, it becomes a time for our families to insinuate statements that attack our viewpoints and our individuality. Some are lucky to be accepted by their families without a sliver of judgement.

Many of us wish to receive acceptance as a gift instead of material things. It is difficult to celebrate the holidays with that very disposition. In cold weathers with a hot chocolate drink and where everybody is together, we crave for home and the feeling of it.

But the question we must ask is: where is home in December? And most importantly, does it have to be somewhere else when it is already in front of us?

The spirit of Christmas is strong within us Filipinos. We know fully well the value of family and belongingness and we know for a fact that Christmas does not have to be celebrated this way. So this Christmas, I want you to ask yourselves, what better gift can we give apart from a handful of blue bills and expensive clothes?



A lighter shade

It seemed like there was nothing left to lose; that this week-long suspension is a gain for our wellbeing. A month later, it revealed itself as a black sheep in disguise.



It wasn’t until last night when I saw the innocent look on my face from January that everything would go down in a matter of months.

Last January, I was naïve and had a fervent energy. Hopeful that I thrive in the face of new challenges, I felt ambitious at the beginning of the year as numerous opportunities presented themselves to me. As thrilling as they were, January was no caveat for me. It was only as sad as Christmas; an extension of grief. There were attempts to wash them by the presence of scrumptious dishes and the festive mood that was well alive in my family. After that, everything was back to the “normal” I used to know.

Earlier this year, I trod onto the different parts of the city with my friends. We go out in our free time whenever our professor is absent or if there are no immediate deadlines. We found ourselves in cafés, smoking alleys, parks, and libraries. These detours were something that kept us going. There was the sight of stacked papers, laptop chargers, beat-up notebooks, and some pens that no longer work. It looked quite messy but it was still a beautiful sight while we allowed the sunlight to graze over our irises to reveal a lighter shade.

It takes so much to squander a hopeful young adult’s energy; in my experience, invitations, conferences, and parties are what I define to be a “thrilling” experience in my life so far. All it took to scratch that is a pandemic.

I was in my campus at the time the City of Manila’s mayor suspended classes for a week. A week-long suspension meant one thing: rest. Consider it a short vacation, a little detour from the ways life usually went by. By the time I reached home, I packed up my suitcase to go to my mom’s hometown, convinced that I won’t be visiting after the suspension because of my hectic schedule.

“I’ll be back in a week,” I told my parents the night before I left.

I intended to stay there for a week. I stayed for four months.

I was well aware that there is a virus on the loose but at that point, it seemed like there was nothing left to lose; that this week-long suspension is a gain for our wellbeing. A month later, it revealed itself that as a black sheep in disguise.

Time wasn’t really of the essence back then. All I knew is that I’d be home in a few months. There were a thousand promises: an anticipated hangout with friends and colleagues, a dinner with my family, and a whole lot more. I was fawning for the things that passed by my newsfeed; tagging my friends and swore that we would do this and that. I’m certain that I wouldn’t be able to do all of them because I knew that I would be whipped with work by the time I go back to my real life. However, there was still an abundance of hope and of excitement.

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At dinner, my family and I would watch the news. There would be this wave of angst towering over me knowing what is happening in the country. The events were surprising at first but I learned to be unfazed yet still disappointed with the inconsistencies that the government threw in the bag. I am more than sad to say that this encounter has lasted for more than half a year. After dinner, I would return back to my bedroom or to the balcony, depending wherever solace is begotten to stay away from a child’s cries.

Many of my frustrations bloomed in the pandemic. It taught me what it means to be overwhelmed with college and with my personal life. There were late night calls, terrible drafts, and endless playlists that cater directly to the situation I have now: frustrated, exhausted, yet empowered. I can take a humble swig of confidence when I say that I have grown exponentially in the past couple of months despite the losses this year acquired. Despite the growth, the losses cannot be ignored; all the courageous yet fearful narratives of struggle, injustice, and hope. The latter comes by rarely as the former still is dominant today.

While I imagine myself at a silent café and the city streets, I cannot help but be angered at this problematic system we still endure. Compassion is often seen at the tipping scale; there should be an abundance of it especially when we need it the most. Thankfully, we have reached some heights for what we sought for. However, the fight is still not yet done — it is far from done.

All that I can do now is to apologize to myself who was hopeful that this pandemic would end a week or a month after. I yearn for the city streets and the touch of the people I was with. Most of them are still here, thankfully. For now, I only linger in the hope that I will see myself again in the places I go to with the same fervent youthful energy.

If there is anything else that I know now, it is that I am young, fearful, and apologetic to my past self; the self who promised that this would be over in a month. Or so, that’s what I thought.


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A Little Bit More

If we could just endure this a little bit more and let this gloomy holiday season pass, we should. After all, what we want is a step closer to recovery not a step back because of recklessness. 




That word is just one of many that could have described this horrible year. 

 Usually, the holiday season is when we get to unwind, relax, and have a break from the stress and perhaps, the reality of working or studying all year round.

 December wouldn’t be complete without having a vacation with your family, friends, or even your special someone. This could be in the form of a road trip, a staycation in your home, a three-day getaway to somewhere in the country, or for some, a few weeks somewhere across the globe.

 Yes, taking a break is important especially in a time where our lives have been taken over by this sudden and drastic change––making us work our minds and bodies like engines without ever taking a break even though we are currently in the middle of a pandemic. 

If you would step outside and take a look, this “new normal” seems like the old one, except without having face-to-face classes. Traffic is everywhere, EDSA hasn’t changed one bit, a sea of red lights still lies there and bumper to bumper, the cars spew fumes. 

Malls have opened and because of the Christmas rush, big crowds come in the form of storms––ransacking department store aisles, trying to buy gifts for the 25th, forgetting social distancing, as well as sanitizing their hands after laying their hands on surfaces and pressing elevator buttons.

 After placing cities under ECQ, MECQ, and GCQ in the past few months in hopes of decreasing the amount of COVID-19 infected cases, the numbers are going up again. With the re-opening of tourist spots, flights, and the lessening of security measures, there is no surprise as to see that the number of people catching the virus is striking up again. 

However, some of these things are important to resume operations such as public transportations and shops because this is for the workers and their families––those who depend on minimum wage and by doing their daily jobs just so that they could bring food to the table.

But what about those people who flew all the way to beaches? Or those who have been hosting mass gatherings and throwing parties? What about them? This is not to rain on anyone’s parade but this is a plea that tackles safety. 

Surely, one can’t die from being deprived of the seawater or getting a tan; it wouldn’t kill anybody if one couldn’t spend their birthday party with the whole barangay; and I’m sure that nobody’s gonna judge you for posting only throwback pictures on vacation on your Instagram account. 

It’s hard, I know––to be deprived of human touch, of losing the freedom to go anywhere that we want to, to breathe in the polluted air in Manila without face masks and face shields hindering you from basking in the outside world––but all of these things can wait, can’t they? 

We should be reminded everyday that the virus is still alive and is still spreading. Vaccines aren’t available to us yet but we also shouldn’t rely on those too much. Our frontliners are risking their lives every single day just to keep everybody safe. Those people do not even have the luxury of getting eight hours of sleep but some people are already taking their time in going out and having fun without taking a glance at the situation we are all in. 

This year has been hard and it’s not going to get any lighter. A lot of us were looking forward to the holidays, to family reunions, to spending time with those we love, and going to different places with them. 

Countless plans have been thrown in the dumpster, a handful of “I’ll see you soon” have been tucked inside the dresser, waiting for a moment to be taken out and give to someone, people are set on spending Christmas and New Year’s away from home because it’s too much of a risk to go out and travel but then you see people flaunting themselves on social media without a hint of fear that they may catch the sickness and it’s unbearable to look for a deeper reason of theirs that is something more reasonable than, “I got bored in the house” or “We can afford so why won’t we go?” 

I’m not asking you to chain yourselves up inside the four corners of your house or to spend the holidays in the dark but rather, I am insisting that you consider all the consequences, not only for you but also for those around before booking that flight, before planning that weekend, and before mingling with people who may or may not be infected. 

That one event can be set for another day, that out-of-town trip can be put to a pause, and that longing to go outside can be dealt with, so please, before you do anything else, keep in mind all the sacrifices that the frontliners and medical workers have done, all their efforts, and all the lives that were taken. Because we never know when it will hit us, we never know if we have already caught it, and we do not know how long this crisis will last. 

If we could just endure this a little bit more and let this gloomy holiday season pass, we should. After all, what we want is a step closer to recovery not a step back because of recklessness. 


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How about those that were not filmed?

Dismantling a bastardized institution does not always need a reformer. Sometimes, it just needs one voice to shake every foundation that holds it dear.



Unlike the 1984 James Bond movie, this man was no agent nor a hero, but a common barbarian who’s been motivated by impunity.

The pre-holiday season has been welcomed by bloodshed; a policeman on Sunday shoots two people in broad daylight in front of many witnesses, even in front of his own daughter.

The officer, Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca, shoots two persons, namely, Sonya Gregorio, 52, and Frank Anthony Gregorio, 25. The tensions heated when Nuezca heard explosions from bamboo cannons (boga)  and went to the victims’ house to arrest them. Later on, the tensions were brought up into a land dispute not related to the firing of the bamboo cannons. 

The argument resulted in Nuezca purposely shooting Sonya and Frank at their heads twice.

With the happening, social media was on full volume making #StopTheKillings and #EndPoliceBrutality trending since yesterday.

The killings were recorded by one of the family members, which has been posted and shown on all media platforms.

The police acted on this barbaric act because it was filmed. This leaves us the question, what about the ones who are not filmed? Nanlaban nga ba talaga sila?

If not filmed, the possible narrative on why they were killed may be—adik yung anak, nanlaban ang ina, just like what happened with Kian delos Santos on the evening of August 2017 when the police said “nanlaban siya.

We make noise because it was filmed, but hopefully, we also howl for those unfilmed victims with their souls crying for justice unheard. 


A child calling for blood? Or also a victim of bad parenting?

“My father is a policeman,” Nuezca’s daughter shouted, telling Sonya to let go of Anthony for him to be arrested.

With it, Sonya replied with lyrics of “I don’t care,” a song of a K-pop group, 2ne1.

“I don’t care eh eh eh eh eh,” Sonya’s last words before she was shot to death by Nuezca.

The people call for the crucifixion of the kid, for the damage that she has taken part in.

Natuto mag english pero hindi alam ang tama sa mali?,” netizens said.

The first section of Article 4 of the revised penal code defines criminal liability “to be incurred by any person committing a felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended”. In the case of People v. Ural (G.R.No. L-30801, 1974) its rationale is found in the doctrine that “el que es causa de la causa es causa del mal causado” (he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil caused.)

This could make the daughter also liable for murder being an accomplice or accessory of the crime. But as we know, the daughter cannot be penalized because she’s a minor.

Some say the daughter is a victim of terrible parenting. In the video, it is seen that the daughter is used to seeing barbaric acts. It looks like it is usual for her to see such atrocities and deemed it normal.

In another video, she is being seen involved by pulling the hair of one of the victims. 

The kid growing in a ferocious and impunitive environment caused by parents is a danger for her and for the people around her. These characteristics will be tolerated and will be normal that may affect how the kid sees the world. 

However, it is not enough for the child to be counseled for what she had seen and done. There should be a way to remove the instilled beliefs into her that was culminated by impunity tolerated within the household.

For it is not only the father who shaped the mind of the child but an entire nation of enablers of impunity.

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She was made to believe that the culture of impunity is acceptable. Not just because her father indoctrinated her with his antics, but because the people around them tolerated it.


Abolish the PNP?

In an article, Bayan-Muna representative Teddy Casiño has described PNP as “a chronic violator of human rights” and the “biggest criminal syndicate in town.”

With great power comes great responsibility, being to “serve and protect” comes with the responsibility of self-control and upholding the rule of law. But unfortunately, their motto doesn’t translate to their actions.

The PNP has made efforts to clean its mess under the rug. There had been some efforts in strengthening its checks and balances, but eventually, these efforts were futile.

Casiño radically suggested firing all officers from the senior superintendent up to director general. However, firing them would be futile if these problematic deep-seated systems of the police force will create a new breed of corrupt officers.

Just like how it is to rationally solve problems, one has to find its roots to solve them. Abolishing the PNP dismantles the institutionalized mafia and its corrupt structures that make them.

This could pave the way to creating a new police force with new structures and policies that are just and humane, extirpating the culture of impunity, preventing it from where it is getting now.

The rampant, extra-judicial killings, red-tagging, and blatant corruption of the PNP have been funded by our own taxes. The benefits that they enjoy have always been provided by the people they should protect and not terrorize. Squandering our taxes and disregarding our human rights should make us reflect on the question, do they really serve and protect?

Just like what we do, if a thing is already useless to us and brings us harm, we throw it away.

It is the police that should work hard for justice, and not trample it. 


2NE1’s song shall haunt us forever

We will never hear the lyric “ I don’t care eh eh eh eh eh,” the same again.

For what was once a song full of happiness and upbeat vibes will now go on to be an anthem of retaliation that culminated in an unnecessary bloodshed.

The lyric will remind us of brazen abuse of power, and a cold-blooded murder that happened in broad daylight.

People will sing it not with energy and a smile on their faces, but in rage and struggle from its enabler-in-chief who tolerated and motivated such barbaric acts.

From now on, it will not be just a lyric nor a regular phrase coming from a K-pop group, but it will be remembered as the last words of retaliation that fought an entire culture of impunity from the top all the way down.

Dismantling a bastardized institution does not always need a reformer. Sometimes, it just needs one voice to shake every foundation that holds it dear.


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