Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here Comes The New Year

I was never really as enamored with New Year’s Day as compared to Christmas. Oh, I loved how the New Year ushers in hope and change; but to me the holiday seems like the homier cousin of Christmas. This despite the fact that, as kids, we would wake up on the morning of New Year’s Day to find a second round of gifts under the Christmas tree. (Our parents told us Santa Claus decided to come back through the Philippines on his way back to the North Pole and decided to reward us kids for being good the whole year. I bought into the whole Santa-doubling-back-in-his-tracks bit; as for being good the whole year, who was I to argue with The Man in the Red Suit?)

What really ticked me off during that time of the year were the firecrackers. Let’s differentiate firecrackers from fireworks: the former are primarily the noise-makers (5-star, bawang, Sinturon Ni Hudas, etc.) while the latter are the ones that make spectacular light shows (lusis, baby rockets, fountains, etc.). The Chinese invented firecrackers to ward off evil spirits; it’s no surprise then that I hated them. I remember how embarrassed I was to cover my ears in front of my cousins or my neighborhood friends whenever I see a firecracker about to explode; I knew it was less manly to cover one’s ears, and at that time I was already conscious of not wanting to look too weak and unmanly in front of others. I saw firecrackers as a crude form of outing: “Aha! You’re afraid of firecrackers! You must be gay!”

Another peeve of mine was the smoke. New Year’s morning I’d pick my nose and my finger will be all black and sooty. Ugh.

Since 2000 we’ve ushered in the New Year in Bohol (once in Baguio). I especially enjoyed celebrating the New Year in our little town of Bilar. We’d first attend the midnight mass then proceed to my aunt’s place to eat (there was always lechon and sotanghon). Before and during the mass we could hear intermittent explosions from firecrackers, often few and far in between. The moment the bells clanged to signal the end of the mass and the faithful started to pour out of the church, that’s when the noisemaking swings full-blast. Which often goes, pak-pak-pa-pak… pause… pak-pak… pause… pa-pak-pa-pa-pak… pause… pa-pak… pause… pak-pak-pa-pak… longer pause… pak… pause… pak-pak-pa-pak. In about five minutes it’s over. Not surprising, given that most of the folks in Bilar are simple farmers. They must have seen a year’s worth of savings go up in smoke in those five minutes.

Last year I decided to treat my family and the Bilar folks to a rare treat. I bought a box of fireworks worth more than Php2,000; that would give us about a minute of non-stop fireworks blazing at the clear starry New Year sky of Bilar. So after the mass ended we walked over to our aunt’s place which is just about a minute away from the church gates. People from all over Bilar were piling into their vans and buses and motorcycles to celebrate the New Year in their respective homes. I wanted to light the fireworks then, but my aunt insisted we eat first before the lechon cooled. So by the time we were ready to light the fireworks, everyone had gone home and there was no one left by the basketball court in front of the church. We ended up enjoying the fireworks display by ourselves.

This year is the first in a long time that I’ll be greeting the New Year in Metro Manila. We’re keeping it simple: we’ll just have spaghetti and ham and champagne (besides, I’ve already consumed enough to feed a small province in China). I’ve long mastered the art of not flinching and covering my ears when a firecracker explodes. I’m seriously considering just switching on the aircon in our parents’ room and staying there until the merrymaking ends (nah, we don’t believe in leaving the windows open for luck). And I’ve long stopped jumping so that I’ll grow taller.

Whatever happens let us embrace change, for the only thing constant is change. Happy New Year, folks!


Quentin X said...

When I was working at the hospital in Cebu, I used to put my hand up for graveyard shift on New Year's Eve. I go to the hospital chapel for the midnight mass before starting work. I though I'd welcome the new year being a good boy. The fact that the hospital is the safest place to stay in New Year's Eve is beside the point. :)

Quentin X said...

Happy New Year, Joel.


I was never a firecracker fan too, thanks to news clips of mangled limbs caused by malfunctioning super-lolos.

Anywayz, happy new year to the mcvie! :-)

John Halcyon von Rothschild said...

When I spent New Year's Eve in Manila, my Aunts would always shout at me to be careful of stray bullets. Apparently, people like to fire guns in the air. I love setting off fireworks. It's so thrilling! It really unleashes the inner pyromaniac in me.

For what it's worth, Happy New Year McVie!