Share our blessings, discard bad fengshui

The earth shook violently. The wind howled, blowing away anything in its path. Rain inundated the land, washing away what had withstood the wind.
Calamities wrought by earthquakes and storms continue to hit the Philippines mercilessly. Mindanao residents have not yet recovered from the devastation arising from the series of earthquakes (averaging 6.5 in magnitude) in October and November. Their homes in ruins, many continue to stay at evacuation centers. And then came another whammy on Dec. 15: A devastating magnitude 6.9 earthquake jolted Davao del Sur, resulting in more deaths and destruction of property and livelihood. Wobbly structures damaged in the previous earthquakes buckled under the latest shock and were destroyed.
In Bicol and the Visayas, residents are still reeling from the after-effects of Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri), which made several landfalls in early December.
This holiday season, we hope people will give generously to ease the suffering of those less fortunate.
Instead of lavish family celebrations and Christmas parties, it will be more meaningful to hold simple get-togethers and donate the money saved to volunteer groups that help areas ravaged by earthquakes and storms.
At the Philippine National Police Foundation, we trustees decided to give up the traditional gifts for us. Instead, we donated the funds originally intended for these gifts to an office staffer suffering from cancer. I also skipped Christmas parties at hotels where we had to pay for the food, bring exchange gifts, dress up and suffer the horrendous traffic. Instead, I donated the money I would have spent to someone who suffered a stroke recently.
Bad fengshui
Here we are again, one week before the yearend revelry. I would like to repeat my admonition to everyone to avoid exploding firecrackers and causing further damage to our increasingly fragile environment.
Exploding firecrackers in these modern times is terribly bad fengshui. Thick toxic smog covers Metro Manila as each New Year’s Day dawns. This should be warning enough: Firecrackers destroy the harmony between man and nature. They bring destruction to life, limb, property and the environment.
People of Chinese descent are partly guilty of propagating the myth that exploding firecrackers drives away bad luck and evil fortune (malas in Filipino). They don’t share with people that the Chinese in ancient times created noise and lit fires to drive away pestilence and wild animals that wake up from hibernation and forage for scant food.
Today, there are no wild animals that leave mountains and forest lairs to scare villagers. So why do we continue to light firecrackers and bring havoc to our environment? Learn the lesson that firecrackers at the start of the year is terribly bad fengshui. How can something that harms our world, kills and maims people, destroys property ever be considered good fortune?
Remember the super typhoons that visited us in recent years? They are attributed to global warming, caused by careless human activity. Man’s folly continues to bring about nature’s fury.
Traditional family letter
This year has been great for myself and my extended family: no major illness and accidents, thank God. Let me share a shortened version of my 44th annual letter (a practice since 1975) with friends, relatives, acquaintances and readers of Tulay. It comes with my warmest wishes for your well-being, health, comfort and joy.
Daughter Meah continues to teach Education at De La Salle University and gives training in teaching preschool children to read, many in remote rural areas. She also continues to present papers at major conferences in the Philippines and gives lectures, talks and media interviews regarding issues and concerns of the Tsinoy community. At the same time, she continues to conduct training on building community museums. Son-in-law Orvin, information technology specialist, continues with his programming projects for local and foreign clients using SAP-HR platform.
Meah’s two daughters, Mayim, 12, and Ziya, 10, do well in school and their extracurricular activities. Mayim loves ballet and Ziya plays the guitar. Both perform in recitals making this grandma proud.
Sean, 34, continues to teach at the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Chemistry. He has no major research output because his department’s request for equipment (diffractometer), essential for his research, has been turned down three years in a row with slim chance that the Department of Science and Technology would approve the requisition. He continues to do well and helps in administrative tasks at the university to qualify for promotion. Daughter-in-law Maiko, 30, is on her second-year residency in radiology at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City.
I continue to be active in conference and lecture circles on topics related to Philippines-China relations and the Tsinoys’ (Chinese Filipinos) history and heritage.
The book on the founding of Pagkakaisa Sa Pag-unlad and how it evolved to become the Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran, and the organizations’ impact on mainstream society has been delayed though interviews with some of the pioneers are complete. Dr. Theresa Cariño, former chair of DLSU’s Chinese Studies Program and former director of Philippine-China Development Resource Center, will write the book with inputs from me.
Sadly, anticrime efforts and aiding victims of crime (mostly Chinese nationals now) still consume a lot of time, energy and sanity. Other efforts include helping to see the reinstalling of the comfort women statue (the first and only one in the Philippines) through the flowers4lolas campaign. The statue was removed by the government in 2018. I likewise continue to be active in our outreach activities such as helping orphans of victims of extrajudicial killings return to school, giving relief goods to victims of calamities, and helping poor students and, most recently, supporting teachers in remote public schools in Calbayog, Samar.
The good news on the horizon is the good performance of the Philippine economy. We hope the trend will continue and lessen the number of Filipinos living under extreme poverty.
As I turn 70, I thank all those who have touched my life and those whose lives I touched.
On that hopeful note, I end with the wishes that the coming year be meaningful and productive for everyone.

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