While putting up the banderitas for our Christmas party, we were silently hoping that the super typhoon Reming would spare our office parking lot her fury. By mid-afternoon, we were almost finished with our physical arrangements – the stage was already propped up, the instruments were finally tuned and the crispy lechons (roasted pigs) were delivered. By 6:00 PM, the concrete space did not look like a parking lot to me. I was standing in a banderitas-laden, dimly-lit, Survivor-tribal-council-like, wedding banquet. But there were still dark clouds looming above our humble venue.
We did not have the luxury of time and the abundance of resources to postpone our party on a later date unlike what happened to the ASEAN summit. There was no contingency plan up our sleeves since nobody thought that it would rain hard on the last week of November. We were left with no other choice. This show had to go on.
Throughout the party, I kept on looking up the sky to look not for stars but for signs of raindrops. A warning of any kind wouldn’t be that helpful though. When the raindrops will start falling, the most we could do is turn off the parking lot power supply, cover the instruments and audio speakers and then head out for the nearest shelter in sight.
Thankfully, it did not rain the whole night. The typhoon was already in the Bicol region by the time we were already exchanging gifts. The following morning, the big tents were still standing on the parking lot. The banderitas, the wooden torches were already removed and the messy dinning tables were already taken care of. Our parking lot looked like just, well, a parking lot.
But in some corner of the Philippines, there was no house left standing. Everything was visibly removed from where they were supposed to be. Many villages were buried under heavy mudslides. From the TV footages and newspaper accounts, Bicol to me, didn’t look like, well, Bicol.
We have all the legitimate reasons to complain about anything in this world – from the gifts we do not like receiving, the salary increase that did not materialize this year and even to the consolation prizes that everyone must amazingly have. But in another corner of this country, someone else’s definition of a Christmas party changed forever.
When you have a different perspective on some things in life, you’ll realize that your long Christmas wish list (include the iPod Nano, the entire 24 Season 1-5 DVDs and the Dockers jacket) pale in comparison to the basic goods (such as food, clothing and medicines) that other people desperately need.
I have a lot to be thankful indeed – for Reming sparing our parking lot and for the daily blessings in my life that I do not see or that I only take for granted.