Today, we officially hang our Parol, the Christmas star, in ushering the official start of the longest Christmas season (and anticipated celebration) in the world only in the lone Catholic country of Asia.
The joyous season of all begins December 16 and ends on the day of the Three Kings or the first Sunday of January.
Many homes may have gotten their holiday decors even before the 1st of December, as my sister start hers before my nephew’s birthday on November 29th. But as always, the radio stations are the first to play the season’s music on the air. We’ve been used to that once the “ber” months- September, October, November ushers in- it signals Christmas is in the air.
Also early this morning, the first “Simba sa Bangui” (evening mass) gathers many church goers even before the roosters break the news of a new day. Usually, in our town’s La Porteria Parish, the mass is held at past four o’clock in the morning while many are still gathering strength and perhaps in their dreams yet.
This year’s yuletide also brings peace, serenity and confidence in the far flung and hinterland areas of the Bicol region with the unilateral declaration of the PH government of a holiday ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines from December 16, 2010 to January 3, 2011.
The administration’s gesture was a prelude to the resumption of the peace talks probably this coming February.
“A Christmas suspension of offensive military operations will be observed from December 16, traditionally the beginning of ‘Simbang Gabi’ or ‘Misa de Gallo’ during this Christmas season, up to and until midnight of January 3, 2011 or a total duration of 18 full days, the longest period agreed upon in the last 10 years,” chief government negotiator Alex Padilla said in a press briefing at the Malacanang Palace.
On the other hand, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced December 7 that it has reciprocated the government’s ceasefire for the Christmas season, an act of goodwill which the CPP hope will pave the way for the resumption of the stalled formal peace negotiations.
The ceasefire is scheduled to start on Dec. 16 and end on Jan. 3, the same period covered by the government ceasefire or suspension of offensive military operations that was announced by government peace negotiators and the military leadership.
So if ever we hear around in the neighborhood sound of gun(s) fired into the air, it must come from the recalcitrant elements of the police and military who spend rounds of ammunitions as part of the revelry which of course is not tolerated hereabout.
Let us enjoy the best of the season safe and sound. Be safe always while lighting fireworks.