Joemar Yubokmee Jr.

Like every year,  the festive lights twinkle, every church is bustling with people attending the Simbang Gabi, and the voices of young children’s carols echo through bustling streets, yet many of us feel that the spirit of Christmas wanes every year that passes.
Cartoon by jhndvpt

The magic of Christmas, once an enchanting time of togetherness and joy, seems shrouded in a cloud of hardship and a feeling of  emptiness.  The merriment that once characterized our Christmas has been hampered by a series of disheartening events that make celebrations counterintuitive.

Inflation continues to be an unresolved issue, rendering the simplest joys of the season a luxury. The surge in prices has made it increasingly difficult for families to afford the basic necessities, let alone the traditional noche buena and exchange of gifts. The laughter and cheers that once emanated from the exchange of presents and the gathering around a bountiful table have now been replaced by the worry of stretching every penny just to make ends meet.

For families of traditional jeepney drivers, this dilemma is more apparent. With the phaseout of jeepneys, the traditional and familiar mode of transportation for Filipinos, many do not have the strength to celebrate, knowing that after the holidays, the reality that over  60,000 jeepney drivers and 25,000 operators will lose their means of livelihood. Moreover, millions of commuters will face the challenge of going to and back from work or school with the already insufficient transportation sector being trimmed down after the Marcos administration continues to disregard the calls of the jeepney drivers.

The conflict and war in Gaza, an ongoing tragedy that continues to claim innocent lives and shatter communities, serve as a grim reminder that peace remains elusive in many parts of the world. The deafening sounds of bombs going off, the cries of families, and the months-long of suffering make it challenging to embrace the spirit of hope and goodwill that Christmas embodies especially when we remember the 19,667 casualties of genocide. In those figures, over 8,000 children and 6,200 women make up the death toll.

In the midst of these hardships, the essence of Christmas seems to have eluded us. The warmth of community gatherings, the infectious laughter of children, and the feeling of unity and compassion that once defined this season have been replaced by a sense of disconnection and desolation.

However, as we navigate these challenging times, let us not forget that Christmas is not solely a season of festivities but also a profound reminder of hope—the arrival of a Savior who embodies compassion and selflessness. Amidst the hardships faced by thousands of manong drivers and many more Filipino families making ends meet, as well as our brothers and sisters in Gaza, let this season transcend from being a a mere celebration to a time for all of us to stand up for one another and be of help to others, not just during this Christmas but as we step into a new year.

Each of us possesses the power to mirror the kindness and generosity reflected in the spirit of the Chrsitmas season. Let us be beacons of light, extending our hands to those in need, offering solace to the afflicted, and fostering peace and understanding in our communities. In our actions, however big or small, let us strive to make a meaningful difference.