If Christmas in the Philippines is one thing, it’s the joyous array of sounds that inevitably remind us that the holidays are upon us. Such sounds include young carolers chiming from door to door, the buzzing of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping, and blissful laughter, as both young and old spare their final weeks of the year to gather, celebrate, and exchange gifts, be it in the form of desired things or bottled stories. After a year of bounty and blessings, we wrap and return some of this bounty to the people who made the year memorable.
Indeed, we are constantly prompted that Christmas is a season of giving. But as reality would show, not anyone has the luxury to give, as they have barely anything for themselves. On the other side of the fence, there are people struggling to even make it to the end of the year, much less celebrate it. What does Christmas stand for the less fortunate?
This is a perennial question that our team from the WYA Asia Pacific hoped to provide answers for. WYAAP held Our Super Christmas in Villa Beatriz, Old Balara, Quezon City last December 11.
Youth from different communities of our partner, Play Learn and Serve, and their guardians spent the whole day roaming a basketball court filled with fun game stations, scores of food carts serving ice cream and cotton candies, and a program chock-full of musical performances, magic shows, and plenty of giveaways. Teacher Aien Navales, the heart behind Play Learn Serve and its joint communities, steered the whole ship, all to deliver the message of the event: hope.
So often we grasp nothing. What little these families earn goes straight to paying debts, health care, and everyday needs, as if it was enough, even though it almost always doesn’t. It is one thing to but view them from our eyes and see the dismal condition they muster through day to day, and it’s another thing to actually live them. Too often they bow their heads with a sigh to end another year with nothing to carry over the next.
But they make it anyway. Maybe not triumphantly but they reach the end and start anew once January comes. Maybe not abundantly but they start over with a fresh mindset just as we replace our calendars, and they do so because they hope. They hope for change. They hope for improvement. They hope that maybe, they will end that year differently when they started. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but nothing’s making the families that joined us think otherwise.
Many people find it difficult to find hope or don’t bother to hope at all, mostly because our society’s system continuously bog us down to retain our status. But sometimes, people hope so much that they are able to hope for others too. Teacher Aien’s friends and colleagues definitely do, as they were able to give away appliances and other bountiful gifts during the raffle draws. These gifts are only material, tokenistic symbols of hope; ultimately, the type of hope we seek to impress is hope that brings forth change, change that ripples, change that binds us into solidarity, and change that, with our own burning wick, light’s another person candle.
These families would not have held their candle up without our partners to make our flame brighter. Thus, our team from WYA and PLS would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our sponsors, donors, and volunteers for helping us deliver this message and providing for Our Super Christmas. Truly, hope is bound when there are such groups ever so willing to lend a hand.
Now that the “holiday season” is over, may the rest of us consider that our hope for each other outlasts any kind of gift, and that the more people we have hoping for change, the better the sound we hear greeting the new year. As most folks go, the more the merrier, right?
Written by WYAAP Intern Alumnus, Viktor Austria
All photos courtesy of Play, Learn and Serve.