IT’S FIVE DAYS before the New Year, but, given the consuming revelry that goes with the holidays, chances are the reign of the Earth Ox would have dawned by the time you read this. I honestly hope, dear karikna, that you are holding this newspaper with all of your ten fingers intact and unbandaged.
When we were in high school, our teachers in English would greet us “Happy New Year” by requiring us to write formal compositions on topics like “How I spent My Christmas vacation” and “My New Year’s Resolutions”. (At siyempre, hindi pahuhuli ang mga guro sa Filipino. Sila man ay nagtatakda din ng mga komposisyon sa mga nabanggit na paksa.) With all due respect to Mrs. Editha Agdeppa and Gng. Rosita Felipe—my language teachers in high school, I never enjoyed writing those pieces. For one, I found them corny. Also, I thought the teacher had no business peering into my personal life and all the way into my inner psyche.
As fate would have it, however, I myself would become a teacher who loves to read his students’ self-reflexive essays. Also, as a mushy columnist, I have no qualms about sharing my stream of consciousness to the public. And yes, as you may have observed, I am occasionally corny, too. Oh, how things change.
Change, as the cliché goes, is constant. Sometimes predictable, many times not. If economic technocrats are to be believed, we will feel the full brunt of the global financial crisis this 2009. As today is difficult enough, it is both frightening and depressing to imagine what other plagues await us in the dim, dim tomorrow. More pain and suffering for Pinoys… Now, that’s predictable.
It should console us though that times of great struggle intensify man’s search for meaning, which should explain the marked increase in church attendance these days. I am sure Bishop Sergio Utleg is happy with this development, although I am not sure if the cash registers, er, collection bags, are smiling as well, given the impoverished parishioners’ perishing purses. (Huh, the underlined words make a good tongue-twister!)
In my case, karikna, I don’t resort to the religious opium. I spend part of my holidays thinking of what I still want to do. Note that this is not goal-setting, as I am never inclined to be hard on myself. A free spirit, my future is not carefully laid out, planned, and organized. This is not sweet lemoning either. Simply, what I do is just a dreamy inventory of reasons. For, as my favorite philosopher and soulmate Friedrich Nietzsche puts it, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how”.
So go my “why” lists, in random order:
009 Things I want to do
1. Write a book. Some of my essays have been anthologized in books, but I am yet to publish my own. I have co-authored a couple of textbooks, but, hey, they don’t count.
2. Work on two academic research projects. One on Ilocano Cultural Heritage, and another on Agriculture and Tourism.
3. Travel locally. Visit at least 15 of the 21 municipalities of Ilocos Norte. In 2008, I went to less than 10. Adams is of particular interest to me. (Attention: Paul Acupan) I also want to visit at least three provinces I am yet to set foot in. Batanes is a dream.
4. Conduct free training in debate and/or writing for the younger ones.
5. Learn how to write good Iluko.
6. Find more time for: a) bicycling and b) reading (One good book every month).
7. Learn to play a musical instrument.
8. Find the best dentist here in Ilocos.
009 Events I anticipate
1. Ananda’s first day in school. My 3-year-old grandniece and friend begins her academic sojourn this year. (This surprises me because I began schooling at age 6.)
2. Guling-guling Festival in Paoay. For a couple of reasons, some of them strange, I have never been to this local Mardi Gras.
3. Birding Events. Dr. Petrus Calope has promised to introduce me to birding. My mentors Vangie Blust of Vermont, USA, and Randy David of UP Diliman attest at how spiritual and cathartic this activity may be.
4. Passage of the Reproductive Health Bill. Amen to that.
5. Silver Anniversary Concert of the Nasudi Cultural Troupe. Actually, I am not sure if there’s going to be one. But given the many honors Nasudi has brought home to MMSU and the Ilocandia, it would be scandalous if there was none.
6. Organizational gathering of Ilocano bloggers.
7. Alumni Homecoming of Northern Christian College, where I attended high school.
8. Powwow of Ilocano Bedans and the four-peat victory of the San Beda Red Lions.
These lists are by no means exhaustive and complete. (Obviously.) At best, what I shared here are just starters. Many of the better things that happen in our lives come unplanned and gratis. We only have to listen closely to the signs and muster enough courage to take risks and embrace change.
If there’s any way my life and yours may cross paths in the pursuit of these whys, kindly let me know. If there’s any way, too, I could lend a hand in your journey, please send me a note and I will join you in a heartbeat and without delay.
Thank you, beloved karikna, for being a part of me. From Herdy and the Labayog-Yumuls, wishes of a meaningful 2009 to everyone.