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wilfrido david
wilfrido david PASKU NA, Pasku na, nananu ko pa?!

Atatandanan ku pa, iniang anak ya pa y Sabel, nung nuke anti kasayang magkaroling deng barkada ku. Magumpisa ning a disiseyis ning Disyembre anggang bisperas ning Pasku. Lalaganasan mila reng bale makuwalta, anti mo reng Henson, Valdez, Lacson, Panlilio, Pamintuan, Nepomuceno, Narciso, Tayag, Gueco, Timbol, Ocampo, at dakal pang aliwa pa king baleng Angeles. Deng penakitan mi sisikap mila anggang kapaskuwan—ilang aginaldo mi keng sarili mi! Ketang panahung ayta beinti pesos balang metung (lima kami), jackpot ne!

It makes me sentimental everytime I recall that part of my life. Growing up poor among well to do friends was not easy. But I never looked at myself as an outcast, like a square peg trying to fit into a round slot. I was a hopeless optimist, knowing that someday I could look back and laugh about it all.

I remember the time when my mother would rouse me and my siblings up to get ready for Simbang Bengi. Manuyab ku pa at ating muri king mata, pero ala keng agawa—nung ali, ala keng Noche Buena. Traditions die hard. Atiu ke king kilub ning pisamban, pero matudtud ke isip. Alub mi namung mayari ne ing misa, na sana ene magsermun ing pari na keng ala namang makiramdam, at standing room only ya pa keng pisamban. Manikal na keng makatikdo, salamat meyari ya mu rin ing misa. Pangaluwal king pisamban—yapin ing masayang parte—reng magtindang kakanin o kalame siping-siping la: puto panara (empanadas filled with spiced grated papaya), puto bumbong, bibingka, kalame ube, bico, kapit-kapit, ensaymada, and steaming hot tsa to go with it. What more could you ask for? It was the only way Christmas was celebrated. Santa Claus? Never heard!

Christmas is the time that you almost regret being a "soft touch", giving in everytime a friend or a relative asks you to be a "tegawan" to their newborn. You almost want to be out of the country, or somewhere else where you'll be unreachable. How many "inaanaks" do you have to give "aginaldos" to is the price you have to pay for being such a good guy, an ideal kumpare. Well, of course, if you can afford to, by all means, get that pocketbook or credit card out. It is indeed a great feeling to be able to give rather than to receive, which is not a bad feeling either.

Come Christmas morn, you haven't washed your face yet and peek out the window, and here comes your inaanak with five other kids in tow, sometimes even accompanied by their parents—your cherished Kumare and Kumpare with a wide grin on their faces, also expecting a handout. Well, you brought this upon yourself, and there is no avoiding this age-old Filipino tradition, unless you already have a visa to anywhere but where you are.

Be careful at what you give. Do not recycle the ones you received last Christmas but didn't like and left unused. I remember the time that my wife's kumare, a dear friend at that, gave her a handbag for a present, and, lo and behold, there was a Christmas card inside addressed to her kumare, a gift from her boyfriend with whom she has broken up. Giving away gifts from former relationships is not the best way to get even. They are best donated to ukay-ukay. Beware, the gift you get could be your own going the rounds and finding itself back to you.

Christmas is not only in the air, it is always in our hearts and minds. It is a time for fellowship—literally, a time for mending fences, making up with people that you have not spoken to for some imagined wrong, paying the people you owe money to, or forgiving the debts owed you. Mahirap? Talaga! But that is the real spirit of Christmas, and although it is celebrated in many other ways other than the traditional way, let's everyone just be happy this Christmas.

[About the author. Wilfrido David is a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1985. He is an avid news consumer, habitually tuned to global TV via satellite. In turn, he occasionally comes up with spiced up essays and anecdotes liberally sprinkled with his wry humor, at times irreverent, oftentimes as corny as corn-on-the-cob, but nontheless thought provoking. He thinks of himself as a "junior senior," a mature gentleman with very active brain cells but a waning testosterone count. He is an American citizen by necessity, not by choice, as he so aptly put it. He is as Kapampangan as sisig, no more, no less.]

-Posted: 7:30 PM 12/24/12 | More of this author on eK!