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Is Christmas for Children?

Since the last time that I noted the peculiar absence of juvenile carolers, I have been accosted by a couple of kids with improvised tambourines singing “Pasko sa Pinas” while waiting for a ride along Diversion Road (which if I may say has become usually jammed with traffic nowadays). There was a time when such Christmas tradition was performed in front of porches; now, they do it in front of pedestrians. I guess, that goes with the changing times. I heard of one barangay with children carolers; but still, the start has become rather late. (It sounds like I’m monitoring sightings of some endangered species. I guess, that’s what makes it notable. It has become a rarity along with explosion of firecrackers, which is a far cry from the tradition most of us grew up with. I honestly thank the Lord Almighty that the public has finally decided to save themselves from danger and save money by not lighting firecrackers which do not make any sense at all.) a morning news magazine show reported that some barangays really prohibited caroling specifically at night throughout the Christmas season, which started this December until January 2. The show’s hosts made a mockery of the regulation; making comments that with that rule, “Silent Night” would be sung in the day and could only be sung at night after January 2. This sort of attitude is one that would sacrifice tranquility of mind and spirit and veer towards trouble, all for the sake of tradition. The wisdom of certain barangay leaders to restrain children from potential trouble, despite popular practice is highly commendable. It bothers me that some celebrity news personalities whose opinion the public listen to, would pursue some practices just because it has become customary or it is simply enjoyable, closing their minds to the progressive path of protection and productivity. So what if children sing “Silent Night” in the daylight? Their protection should be placed at a higher position over awkward words or exciting traditions and trends. That should go with the changing times.

In the subject of children, there seems to be a sudden surge of solicitations from small ones on streets, in restaurants, malls, jeepneys; which may range from innocent requests to insistent grasps. One even approached me with envelopes in hand, asking assistance for the “church”. What on earth? If I were clergy, why would I send first to third graders to raise funds for the congregation? The kids suspiciously entreat you in Tagalog. Even more suspicious is that they would not respond and even appear completely clueless when spoken to in the local Bicol dialect. They seem to have an allergy to the mention of “DSWD” as they would quickly run off upon hearing those combination of letters, and at times (as some stories go) would be intercepted by an adult after having gotten some cash. Where are these kids from? Sometimes, it could be too quick to label vagrants as Badjaos, which needs verification, and if I may point is racism that we are unaware of. (And you thought that not so tall, brown skinned Filipinos are not capable of racism. Just think about how we use the term, “Agta”.) Maybe, some of them are, but for some of the children, the Badjao ethnicity is quite dubious. There are notions that the juvenile vagrants are part of a syndicate. Sometimes, the idea is too cliché as old as Oliver Twist, that such stories sound far-fetched. But then again, one could not dismiss its veracity unless proven otherwise. On one occasion, a young girl has somehow decided to wear a an acceptably pretty dress and go about inside a mall to open her palms to ask for some change. Now, that’s something new. The pitiful street child look of dirty torn and patched oversized shirt and shorts is going out of trend. At least, some people are thinking progressively. Let’s just analyze that. Could that girl have decided that she would wear her best church dress so she could ask money from people at the mall? It could be possible, but rather unlikely. If the practice was based on child’s own personal volition, I suppose she would opt to wear her comfortable clothes, that is, if she just lives in the neighborhood around the mall. If we adapt the unlikelihood of the child’s independence in that choice of clothing, someone must have directed or at least, suggested to her, o do so. Maybe, the direction or suggestion comes from an adult, or possibly an adolescent authority. So, what’s happening here? Is this a development of Christmas mendicancy, irresponsible parenting or guardianship, a misguided idea of generation of income or a criminal syndicate of child trafficking?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones…” Matthew 18:21

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