Bidding farewell to the old year to give way to the new one is always a bittersweet moment for me. It prods me to pause for a while, take stock of my life, and reflect on the many blessings I received during the last twelve months.
2016 has been a tumultuous year, but it brought with it many lessons and reasons to be thankful for.
People all over the world died and are dying due to a myriad of reasons — senseless wars, natural disasters, accidents, famine, crimes and diseases. I am thankful for each day that I find myself surrounded by my family and enveloped in the warmth of their love. Life is the most precious gift that we should never take for granted.
There are people who grow old not really knowing their passion and mission in life. There are also those who can’t act on them because of the fear of embarking on uncharted territory, or the fear of being judged, or some other more pressing limitation. I am just thankful that I was able to discover my passion for writing and my mission to hone, use and share that talent to inspire, entertain, empower, and educate others. I will continue to aim to be the voice of the voiceless.
Many of us, when faced with adversity and challenges, or when presented with seemingly tempting choices, tend to lose sight of and drift away from our most fundamental values and beliefs — as conscientious Christians, as law-abiding citizens, and as peace-loving individuals. I am thankful that, despite the frustrations and pent-up anger of a great number of Filipinos, and their ensuing clamor for change, I managed to maintain a tight grip to my moral compass, to stand firmly by my personal values, convictions and principles, and to remain faithful to my most basic beliefs. Without that compass to carry around, one’s identity may forever be lost.
At a time when we are overwhelmed by a multitude of seemingly more urgent and important concerns, it is quite easy to put health-related issues on the proverbial back burner. I could only be thankful that my surgery last June was successful and virtually painless, that my father who suffered from two consecutive major strokes four years ago is now doing great, that my 66-year-old mother still has the stamina of an ox, that all my children, siblings, in-laws, and other relatives are physically well, and that my husband continues to enjoy splendid health two years after his kidney transplant. Health is wealth, indeed.
Before the elections back in May, I actively campaigned against then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte. I am thankful that, when he won the presidency (by a landslide, no less), I was able to graciously accept my defeat. I managed to move forward from what I then perceived to be my countrymen’s betrayal. I overcame my feelings of disappointment, hurt and anger. However, I vowed to remain vigilant, fearless, resolute and involved in guarding against those who would pose as threats to our nation and everything that it stands for, and at the same time, to keep an open mind to the new president’s not-so-conventional ways. I vowed to continue to be respectful of the Office of the President and to help in whatever capacity, but to not be blind to abuses of power, to never allow tyranny, and to help protect the country’s Constitution at all costs — even if the greatest threat to our democracy would come in the form of the President himself.
In the wake of the most engaging and divisive election that our country has ever witnessed, my respect for many of my friends, relatives and acquaintances crumbled. My relationships with them cracked and, eventually, shattered. For me, it is not a simple case of differing opinions. Rather, it is the kind of people that they chose to support, and the kind of people they have become as a result, that I find mind-boggling and disturbing. I am thankful though that, because of that same election, I was able to develop friendships and bonds based on mutual respect, and shared beliefs and aspirations. Friendships forged between and among people who adhere to the same principles and advocacies, I have come to realize, tend to be healthier, stronger and more productive and enduring.
Ever since the new administration took office, the country has been rocked unabatedly by many controversies, issues and tragedies — the dismissal of cases against former PGMA and her eventual release from hospital arrest; the historical revisionism perpetrated by the Marcoses and their minions; the staggering number of casualties as a consequence of the government’s continuing war on drugs; the severing of ties with the country’s long-time allied nations and trading partners; the death of decency, compassion and other values that used to be inherent in every peace-loving Filipino; the burial of a despicable dictator in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani; the impending return of another Marcos in Malacanang. The list appears to be endless. I am just thankful that all these developments galvanized us, Filipinos, to revisit our history, to rouse from our slumber of apathy and complacency, and to take to the streets our collective resistance and protest against all these injustices. The flames of vigilance, activism and patriotism have now been rekindled.
In the face of my struggles –– both personal and political —, I am thankful that my faith in the Lord has remained complete, absolute and unwavering. I trust that everything that happens to me, to my family, to my country, and to my planet is designed for a higher purpose — to be revealed to me in His own perfect time. I believe that He will not bring me any burden that I cannot carry. Finally, I am optimistic that the coming days will usher in genuine hope, and positive and concrete solutions to all our problems.
Thank you and goodbye, 2016!
Hello and welcome, 2017!