For Filipinos, Christmas has always been a big celebration. It is during this season where we spend more time with our families and forget relationships with relatives, near or far.

It is also during this time of the year when we try to reconcile our feelings and ponder on the good and bad things that happened to us in the past year.

The temperature has perhaps reached its all-time low in recent years, especially here in Manila, where the days of the scorching heat have seemingly left. But the coldness and even the current war against terror just can’t stop the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

The decors are all around, and the good ol’ midnight sales are just unstoppable. The Christmas lights and lanterns glittering in stalls and houses are sending a very clear message—that people are longing for peace, after all the tragedies and recent deaths. After all, everyone deserves Christmas, not just the kids and the ones who have “lost” their childhood. And that is regardless of whether President Macapagal-Arroyo would allow the proposed weeklong Christmas holiday, an acid test in her own brand of economics.

In the coming days, we will be hearing more of the Christmas tunes from the angelic and at times off-key voices of children. We may be used to giving them “patawad” instead of coins, but the songs are truly signs, perhaps, reminders that we may be forgetting the essential things.

And the essential things are unseen. We may have chosen the best gifts for our loved ones, but may have forgotten the essentials.

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Laro sa Baga

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Just last week, I celebrated my 19th birthday with the my college friends. It was a new birthday experience for me. Besides not celebrating it at our house for the entire day, I realized some things about birthday gifts—that not all gifts are found in those boxes wrapped by those fancy ribbons.

At that moment, I could not sleep. My cellphone kept on receiving messages from my friends at the first hour of my birthday. I wasn’t expecting a barrage of text messages at 1 a.m., but the messages were truly good to start another year.

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Birthday and Christmas presents are only material things that will only be there for quite some time. They won’t be there forever.

Some gifts are sometimes found in the most unexpected places. They could even be just beside us. They could be in any form. The real gifts that we already have but often tend to ignore are our friends and family. They are the greatest gifts that can never find any substitute.

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Advance Merry Christmas to all!

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