Wednesday, December 14, 2011
WHEN DECEMBER COMES, a festive feeling hangs in the air. For us Christians, it ushers in the remembrance of the birth of the child Jesus which we celebrate every December 25th of each year. When December comes here in Cebu City, we love to remember also the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the eighth and partake of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the twelfth.
When December do come in my place where there is a little chapel by the banks of the Lahug Creek, I and the rest of my small neighborhood prepare something for the coming of the feast of our patron – Saint Lucia. It falls every December 13 and my neighborhood had been observing her day since 1979. So you may know, St. Lucia is patron saint for the blind. Let me tell you a short story:
It is such a special day for me and my family for St. Lucia had been one of the blessed ones that had been petitioned by the mother of my late grandfather – for healing - when he was stricken with German measles as a child that caused him blindness. That was in 1901 when the Americans came to colonize the Philippine archipelago and the native population have no means to protect themselves from the introduced exotic diseases.
Now, back to the present. As is the custom of every Filipino borne out of gratitude and remembrance for the Creator, I decide to prepare food for my guests and of my youngest son's guests. As you see, my son – Cherokee – will celebrate his birthday on December 14 and I resolved to have his birthday celebration be held in advance instead to coincide with the feast of St. Lucia.
My wife, Vilma, did all the cooking of calderetta (tomato-based goat soup), paklay (goat innards), humba (braised pork), fried chicken drumsticks, macaroni salad, spaghetti and rice with some help from daughter, Lovella. My neighbors, Berting and Agnie, meanwhile, did the slaughtering of a live goat right on my backyard in the morning as my grandchild, Gabriel, earnestly watched nearby from a swinging hammock.
My neighbors were preparing some parlor games at the chapel as I was leaving for work at 8:00 AM. When I got back at 6:30 PM, a holy mass done at the chapel is about to end and the priest was now announcing for the baptismal rites of new Christians and is asking for the parents and godparents to come forward. My heart leaped with joy when I heard this and stayed a while to watch the ritual.
When I got home, daughter Laila is already there with husband Chokie and son Kurt and niece Roann. Grandson Jarod is playing a game on my laptop with Gabe beside him. Cherokee arrived shortly with two classmates and they just came from a retreat seminar at the Holy Family Retreat House in Nivel Hills. My sister, Aileen, came alone from work and waited for daughters Denise Gael and Via.
My eldest son, Charlemagne, got home together with girlfriend Christy and presented Cherokee with a cake. My mother Marietta arrived together with Denise Gael and Via; sister Genevieve with daughter Alyanna; sister-in-law Beth with sons Kevin and King Ivan; and all came from Lahug.
After dinner, the talks flowed among the ladies as they watched Amaya on prime time TV while the young 'uns tinker with their gadgets. For me and Chokie, aside from busy shooting pictures, we shared a bottle of local brandy mixed with soda energy drink and ice.
The procession passed by my house and my mother is quite elated to see her former neighbors again. Then the fireworks lit the night sky as me, King Ivan and Gabe stood on a small bridge to watch the spectacle. When the guests leave, I spend the rest of the day with Vilma and Gringo in a lively talk. Lovella, Gabe and Jarod are all upstairs while Cherokee decide to join his neighbors in a disco near the chapel.
Document done in Libre Office 3