CHRISTMAS celebration surely felt different this year in the context of ending a year, which could only be described as a hurricane. To be sure, this is not only in reference to the widescale calamities that ravaged parts of the country.

Early this year, people’s fears on the possible misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel” were finally confirmed when Benhur Luy ratted out his boss and cousin Janet Lim Napoles, revealing that the latter was engaged in the business of soliciting money from lawmakers to fund bogus non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This resulted in public outrage directed against both houses of Congress. The executive branch was not spared from criticism of course. In fact, there was also news of a “Janet Napoles” in the Judiciary. Thus, the issue was a collateral attack to the whole government.

Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) leader Nur Misuari declared the independence of the Bangsamoro Republic, which failed in the end but at the expense of the lives of soldiers and civilians.

In mid-October, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the island of Bohol, killing almost a hundred persons and destroying historic Churches, some of which are national treasures.

Barely a month after the earthquake, Typhoon “Yolanda,” one of the strongest recorded, hit Visayas, killing thousands of people. It also exposed the inefficiency of both national and local government as well as the severe politicking that some officials employed in relief ef forts.

It wasn’t a surprise that President Aquino’s satisfaction rating dipped from 64 to 59 this third quarter, according to the Social Weather Stations.

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But it wasn’t all bad.

In November, the Supreme Court finally abolished pork barrel to the disappointment of some of the corrupt. And Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales estimated before that it would take her a year to determine probable cause and decide whether or not she would file a case against lawmakers involved in the pork barrel scam. It’s not that groundbreaking but it’s a sign of progress.

And Manny Pacquiao’s comeback victory over Brandon Rios couldn’t have come at a better time to uplift the spirits of Filipinos.

Christmas is said to be a time of healing and renewed strength. Year 2013 may be the country’s reckoning year. A time to rebuild, a time to change. A time to hope again for a better Philippines. As Charles Dickens puts it in his well-loved novel, “Tale of the Two Cities”: “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.” Year 2013 was a time of loss but at the same time, it was a time of redemption.

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