Christmas is Us

[Photo source:]

By Wilfredo G. Villanueva

Sharing with you two stories of Christmas. My Facebook public’s warm response to them is evidence that the country is awake, strong and caring.


Last night, on our way out of Ma Mon Luk restaurant on Quezon boulevard in Quezon city, Baby saw a boy about ten years old who was standing by the door. I was carrying a bag of half an order of pancit canton which we couldn’t finish and would bring home to bunso.

“Bigay mo na lang sa kanya,” wifey said.

Gave the brown paper bag to the boy, but as per custom I gave a little pep talk.

Does he study, yes. Study well I said. Education is hope for a better future. Does he pray, yes. Does he know the Hail Mary, yes. Can we pray it together, yes. Started the first half, he finished the second half

From left: Jerome, friend of the orphan Hesus by his side, the elder who resides in San Diego, California, and myself. Notice the rosary beads wound around Hesus’s wrist.

Finally, I asked his name. “Hesus,” he said. Almost landed on my behind for I was squatting while talking to him. Asked the same question, got the same answer, “Hesus.”

“He was born on December 25,” an elderly lady who was seated near the door said, apparently listening to our conversation. “He’s orphaned of both parents, TB,” she said.

Touched, went to the vehicle, came back with my barya bag, gave maybe P200 in bills and coins. It was all I could do.

I said a long goodbye, going back to the vehicle again to fetch my bag of rosaries. Gave Hesus a light green luminous rosary which he tied around his wrist. Another to Jerome, his friend who had joined us.

Finally left. Touched by the Holy Spirit, recalling with Baby that in the late 1990’s, we found a boy who was lost. Gave him a bath, a change in clothes, fed him, motored from our home in Las Piñas to Antipolo where he said he lived.

His name was Emmanuel.

Wilfredo G. Villanueva
Dec. 18, 2018

* * * * *


At 5:30 a.m. Simbang Gabi today, I had to shush a group of youths who were gossiping, making sure I smiled, for I have a stern look when I am displeased.

But they persisted with their unwelcome ambient noise, shushed them again, and this time smilingly approached them, saying:

“Salamat at nagsisimba kayo. Pagkatapos ng Misa, ipapaliwanag ko ito sa inyo, okay?”

They smiled back at me and nodded their agreement to my proposal to chat some. This time they kept silent until the final blessing.

After mass, they stayed behind. I approached them with my three dogs in tow, to which some of them expressed warmth and affection with petting and cooing. This gave me confidence.

I began:

Will: Naginhawahan ba kayo sa Misa?

Them in unison: Opo.

W: Kokompletohin ninyo ba ang Simbang Gabi?

Them: Opo.

W: Sino ba ang leader ninyo?

Them: Siya po. (Pointing at the smilingest of the lot.)

W: Sino yung sinisisi ninyo pag may mali?

Them: Siya po.

W: Sino ang pinupuri ninyo pag may maganda kayong nagawa?

Them: Siya din po.

W: Anong pangalan mo? (Addressing their center of gravity.)

Him: Chando.

W: Ha?

Chando: Chando po. (Repeating.)

W: Gandang pangalan. O, may tanong ba kayo tungkol sa Misa?

Them: Wala po.

W: Kita tayo ulit bukas dito ha?

Them: Sige po.

W: (Gesturing to my dogs.) Alam ninyo ba ang kahalagahan ng mga aso?

Them: (Waiting for an answer.)

W: Obedience.

Them: Aah.

W: Ganyan din ang tao. Gusto ni God obedient tayo.

Them: (Silence, nodding.)

W: (Fishing out some bills from my belt bag: the magic P200.) O, idagdag ninyo na ito sa pamasko ninyo… (Handing the money to Chando.)


W: Si Jesus, tuwing matatapos ang sermon niya, pinapakain niya ang mga tao…

Them: Oh…

W: Kasi gusto niya busog tayo. O sige, bukas ulit…

Them: Opo!

Walking back home, I caught up with them. They offered me pandesal which they had bought. They were all smiling at me, about 20 of them, boys and girls, probably 16-17 y.o. Chando beamed with satisfaction.

I said, “Chando!” with cool.

Wilfredo G. Villanueva
Dec. 19, 2018

* * * * *

My take:

We value each other.

Something about the young: eking out a life, nursing their youthful exuberance while treading in a sea of negativity and kawalang pag-asa (hopelessness). Can you imagine being young at a time like this, in socio-economic and political limbo?

Elders value the next generations. They see a future, Duterte notwithstanding. They care for the youth. If they think Duterte times and China are permanent conditions, will they care as much?

We like kurot sa puso (heartwarming) stories, like people gathering around a campfire, looking as far as the moon and stars, not earthbound. We’re dreamers and idealists first and foremost.

We’re easy to reach, but you have to know the passwords. These: love, child, youth, help, mercy, compassion, prayer, Mother Mary, tenderness, humility, kindness, godliness.

Can you imagine if I ignored Hesus, or like a drill sergeant berated the youths who were frolicking at Holy Mass? I wouldn’t be touched enough to write the stories, and thousands (counting shares and lurkers) wouldn’t be touched enough to respond in kind.

We have it in us. Duterte is both abomination and aberration. We’ll get past him and tell stories of how we responded, like the Filipinos that we are, blithely riding the waves of terrifying uncertainty while checking on each other, anchored in kindness and pagkawang-gawa (acts of love).

Lastly, there is a God. He walks among us and He will surprise us with His presence at the time least expected, exactly at the point where hope is ready to set sail.

Merry Christmas to The Society of Honor and its readers! (I’m thinking, why not start a complementary blog, named The Society of Love? Nah, only Joe does blogs like no other.) #


64 Responses to “Christmas is Us”
  1. NHerrera says:

    A fitting blog article for the season. The Society of Honor is also The Society of Love with you around, Will.

    Season’s Greetings to you and your family; to Joe and family; and to all and their family in TSH.

  2. edgar lores says:

    1. Hesus. Emmanuel. Chando.

    2. Hesus is the Spanish form of Jesus, from the Hebrew Yeshua.

    2.1. It means “Form of Joshua.”

    3. Emmanuel is Hebrew.

    3.1. It means “God is with us.”

    4, Chando is unknown. It could be the diminutive of Alejandro. Granted.

    4.1. Alejandro means “defender of the people.”

    5. The first 3 names point to a Saviour of the people, Jesus.

    5.1. Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

    6. What to make of the defender of the Prince of Peace?

    7. Wilfredo is German.

    7.1. It means “Desires peace.” In other words, desires the coming of the Prince of Peace.


    8. It seems greeting people “Merry Christmas” is no longer politically correct.

    8.1. I do not see why. Merry means cheerful. And one cannot be cheerful if there is no peace.

    8.2. I find it strange that Luke 2:14 has different translations. Some are exclusive while the KJV is not. I will go with the KJV: “Peace on Earth, goodwill to men.”

    • The history of Bible translations is complex..

      Latin Vulgate, Greek Septuagint etc.

      Martin Luther skipped the commonly used Vulgate (meaning Popular) version from the 4th century and went back to the Greek, at the same time taking liberties, translating less literally and more for understandability as his goal was to make commoners read it..

      Israel was very Hellenized in Jesus’ time, the elites spoke Greek. Christos in Greek means Anointed. I think the Gospels were in Greek.

      How exactly the oldest modern English Bible translation (King James) was done, don’t know. But translation is never perfect. Even Peace (English), Pax (Latin), Frieden (German), Eirene (Greek) and kapayapaan (Tagalog) each slightly differ in detail. There is the story of the foreign priest directing Filipinos to sing the song “Payapang Daigdig” and starting with “Ang gabi papaya, lahat ay tahimik..” laughter..

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      Galing, Prof.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah!

  4. chemrock says:

    (Dropped this in a different blog. Repeated here)

    Thanks Will, a delightful and inspiring read. None of us may have great platforms, but we can seek our 15 mins and dispense thousands of small kindness.

    Merry Xmas to everyone at TSOH and your family.

  5. The broader Filipino sense of community is emotional and spiritual. Damayan is one term Prof. Vicente Rafael locates twice in history: during the 1898 Revolution and EDSA 2. Both with accounts of strangers helping one another or giving each other space on crowded streets.

    Kadamay comes from that word, which is close to the Christian idea of carrying each others load. The idea of malasakit is a similar idea, appropriated by Duterte, not the Left. But there is this spirit of helpfulness and compassion beyond the selfishness so often observed.

    Possibly that is the foundation to build upon. Could be that is the basic building block which VP Leni already is successfully working with?Often it held only shortly: after 1898, 1986 and 2001. What can make it more lasting? Merry Christmas to Will, Joe and the entire TSOH!

    • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

      When this is over and done, maybe we have to install scare crows with likeness to President Duterte in every government office, private enterprise, school, church and mall to remind everyone that Duterte times can make a comeback if we forget again Filipino values like malasakit, mapagkawanggawa, pagmamahalan at tulungan.

  6. Mardi Mapa-Suplido says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for inspiring me to love more this Christmas! And I agree, as we together ride out this terrifying tsunami that is killing so many, let us keep the faith and watch out for each other. With Jesus we will survive.

  7. Merry Christmas, Wil.

    I can imagine Hesus holding a bunch of flower necklaces walking in and out of busy traffic in Manila.

  8. popoy says:

    I was still in short pants when puppy love bit me crazy and this was song the song I remember during Christmas.

  9. popoy says:

    So sorry insan to intrude your piece and page but Christmas was irresistible nostalgia for old creatures like me.

  10. popoy says:

    So what’s the vantage point of popoy : ENDLESS Christmas LOVE TO one and all Pinoys by TSoH people.

  11. Sup says:

    Merry Christmas!!!

  12. sonny says:

    A child is born in Bethlehem,
    Exult for joy, Jerusalem!

    Refrain (literal translation):
    With an exultant heart,
    let us adore the new-born Christ,
    with a new song.

    The Son of God the Father,
    In the highest has taken flesh,

    Come then, and on his natal day,
    Rejoice before the Lord and pray.

    And to the holy One in Three.
    Give praise and thanks eternally.


  13. popoy says:

    This is a rare wakagen

  14. NHerrera says:

    I think this will resonate here in this Season and in this blog article:

    Heydarian writes of Viktor Frankl, a Jew with great professional potential (psychiatry), separated in a German concentration camp from a wife he does not know if still alive. Frankl was worked to the brink of death in the camp, but held onto the image of his wife as his last refuge, the only warmth he could find in the entire universe his undying memories of her.

    Viktor Frankl:

    “But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.”

    “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers … The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.”

  15. distant observer says:

    Will, your writings never cease to touch me. Continue to write truth to power. And power to love.
    Merry christmas to all you good people here in TSOH and your families! It has been quite another ride this year and it is a deep wish of mine that TSOH continues to carry the beacon of truth and hope in these desperate times.
    Thank you all.

  16. NHerrera says:

    If I may be allowed to post this here —

    President Duterte’s Christmas Message:

    “As we take part in the festivities during this joyous occasion, may we also contemplate on the wealth of lessons we can learn from the narrative of the Savior’s birth to the calls of compassion, kindness and reconciliation being echoed throughout the globe. Let these ideals and aspirations guide us as we embrace our fellowmen in the spirit of our shared humanity and welcome the coming year with much hope and optimism.”

    And the same Christmas Message to you, Mr. President.

    • NHerrera says:

      CNN reports Trump’s style of spreading the good cheer at Christmas:

      “It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” Trump fumed, seated behind the Resolute Desk on Tuesday, after decrying Democrats as hypocrites and recalling — unprompted — his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

      “But other than that,” he said, his hands gesturing outward, “I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”

      Oh well, different strokes for different folks.

      • edgar lores says:

        Trump is aligned with himself. Duterte isn’t.

        Both are submarginal.

        • NHerrera says:

          edgar: sharp as a samurai sword.

          • NHerrera says:

            Even a respected historian probably needs another ten or so years to write a good and fair comparatives of the two but that will be interesting reading.

        • This might be more aligned..

          ..To my countrymen,
          (Sa mga gagong naniniwala pa rin sa akin),

          My sincerest and most heartfelt greetings to all Filipinos, both here and abroad, as we celebrate Christmas.
          (Marami-rami pa rin kayo. My gad, i hate draaaags.)

          Once again, it is the time of the year where we honor, gather our families and friends to celebrate the nativity of Jesus, share life’s many blessings and demonstrate our love and gratitude for each other.
          (Unang-una, ‘yung isturya sa Bible, gawa-gawa lang ‘yan. Sa’n ka nakakita ng nabuntis na virgin? Gago! ‘Tang ina. Tapos ‘yung tala sa langit, gumalaw daw kaya sinundan ng mga hari. Ulol! May lumalakad bang star? Stupid story..

          • NHerrera says:

            The Professional Heckler gave that message a good 180-degree alignment using an engineer’s T-Square and Triangles. Thanks for sharing that link, Irineo. Happy New Year to you and your family!

            • popoy says:

              There’s a reason and justification for every written good or bad message. ONE MUST WRITE ONE’S OWN GREETINGS, and NOT ASKED others to do it for him even if one can not complete an honest sentence like Happy Holidays. . Only an imbecile will write for another imbecile an unbelievable beautiful greetings. GOOD or bad a message could be reflective of the character of both the message writer and the messenger.

    • I don’t know about DU30, but Trump’s been doing his homework in how to get to the White House for a good 3 decades now.

      The seed was planted after Reagan, when some individual in the guise of a group, encouraged Trump to run.

      But it wasn’t until Jesse (the Body) Ventura won governorship in Minnesota in 1998 that Trump finally figured out his platform. Remember Trump’s a life long Democrat, only recently became Republican.

      Trump didn’t have a path nor a model to follow until Ventura won. Denigrate, disparage the media and talk big & simply (which came naturally).

  17. popoy says:

    During Christmas and other holidays in our lives, those we greet with enthusiasm will receive our good tidings by the way they know us for what we say of what we do in the way we live our lives and how we treat others. We are no different from the Pope as others see us.

  18. NHerrera says:

    Batten down the hatches, JoeAm.

    Though, with the data so far and improved weather forecasting, storm Usman is likely to pass your place with little damage.

    Also, there is the positive side of being confined to the house thanks to Usman: a good time to engage the family more than the usual; a good time to pickup those unread books, specially if the internet is down but electricity is in service; and a time to ponder about the short and long term future of our Earth Ship and its passengers as we await the new year.


  19. john c. jacinto says:

    Nawa’y maging masagana,mapayapa, at mapagpalaya ang Bagong Taon 2019 para sa ating lahat! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

  20. It’s 5 a.m. here right now.

    I ‘m about to head out for a run. Feeling a bit hungry. So I try to fix something in the fridge. I find a box of dessert given to me by my good neighbors for Christmas (been in the fridge a couple of days now, next to other boxes of treats as gifts 😉 ).

    And no joke these are the best ensaymadas I’ve eatened in awhile:

    Now my favourite Philippine dessert is still the bibingka , but this morning I’m seriously re-thinking that whole worldview– the jury’s still out.

    I’m finishing up my coffee now, and considering maybe another one for the road. Or maybe when I’ll come back from my run.

    It came with an info card about the product and history, so I just was Googling the ensaymada’s connection to the Middle East via Mallorca, Spain. Most breads and desserts from the Middle East don’t rise, so I’m kinda doubting the Middle East connection (as indicated on the product’s info card),

    but looking now at Wiki’s ensaimada’s photo from Mallorca, they do look flat (not risen) so maybe there is a connection to the Arab world after all (though the word doesn’t sound Arabic or anything close).

    In any case HAPPY NEW YEAR to all , just wanted to share this treat I’m enjoying this morning, since it’s relevant to the recent threads I’ve posted on (on reading/doing, and Naval history in the Med 😉 ), and mmmmmmmmmmmmmm….

  21. Sup says:

    Christmas gift for Arroyo…
    By the way 80% of the comments as of now are from fake pro Gloria accounts…Must be a good business nowadays to have a troll farm….Stop growing rice start growing trolls… 🙂

    • karlgarcia says:

      Let it be remembered that this admin set the plunderers free, Marcos, Arroyo, Estrada/Ejercito,, Bautusta/Revilla, and Enrilr.

      Let thenext generation not allow a compromised Supreme Court, Sandigan, Court of Appeals!

  22. isk says:

    To Mr.Villanueva, Mr. Joe Am, Prof. Edgar Lores, Mr. Chempo, NHerrera, Mr.Karl, Mr.I B Salazar and all TSOH contributors/readers, Happy New Year to All.

    Hoping for a better Philippines!

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