Christmas tales


A House reporter was very excited. It was the last session day before Christmas break and for the first time, a high official had invited him to his office.

“I have a press release for you,” the official said.

Press releases were usually delivered to the media center so the reporter surmised that the “press release” was just a euphemism used by the official for a Christmas gift. You see, for almost nine Christmases, that high official had never given a gift to the reporter or other media persons.

So, the reporter hid to the office of the high House official but he was made to wait for about 30 minutes as the official had a prior visitor. Finally, he was ushered into the room, where the official handed him an envelope while wishing him a Merry Christmas.

A few seconds after leaving the room, the reporter opened the envelope.

Yup, it contained a press release alright.

* * *

Christmas parties hosted by senators for reporters are no longer as lavish as before, especially during the tenure of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile as Senate President. Well, this is in keeping with the times, what with the senators no longer receiving a hefty spike in their “operating expenses” during the holidays.

Before, the senators tried to outdo themselves in offering raffle prizes to reporters in their Christmas parties. The only exception was Sen. Lito Lapid who had never attended one. This is understandable as he had never enjoyed a good press.

Going back to raffle prizes, one reporter noted that almost all of the products for giveaways were made in China. The eyes of the reporter lit up when he finally saw one raffle prize that wasn’t so.

“This one isn’t made in China,” he virtually shouted. “It said it’s ‘Made in Guangzhou.”

* * *

In Lupao, Nueva Ecija, my hometown, two rivals for congressmen sponsored separate Christmas games in every barangay. What’s interesting about this is that the two rivals have the same family name: “Violago.” Both are related to outgoing Rep. Joseph Violago.

Like most political families, the Violagos wanted to maintain their (strangle)hold in the district. The patriarch Eleuterio was congressman for nine years, followed by son Joseph who served for nine years also. Now, two Violagos are competing for the family’s vested right to be district congressman – for nine more years?

The first “Christmas games” in Barangay Mapangpang, Lupao, was sponsored by Lito Violago, brother of Joseph. A day later, it was the turn of Mikki Violago, Joseph’s wife. Oh yes, the congressman and his wife had already sponsored bingo games for barangay officials in their district at their house in San Jose City. They offered a grand prize of P50,000.

* * *

Politicians previously spent less money for Christmas. Things changed when the Commission on Elections decided that applications for Certificates of Candidacy should be filed in November. A congressman told me that this Comelec decision had effectively lengthened the campaign period for politicians.

“Before, the people didn’t know before Christmas who were running. Now, they do and they can’t be stopped from visiting the houses of declared candidates,” he explained.

* * *

The Christmas party of the Manila Times group of companies last December 19 was a “feel good” one. A top raffle prize of a Wigo car was offered. Throw in the second prize of P50,000 and the feeling that the Manila Times group of companies is now off and running sinks in.

I kidded Dante A. Ang Sr., chairman emeritus of the Manila Times, why The Manila Times tendered such a grand Christmas party only after I had already been retired for two years.

“Now, I’m no longer qualified to join the raffle and make me a potential owner of a new car,” I told DAA.

(By the way, I already have two cars – a 1992 model minivan that I bought in Subic in 2003, and a 2001 model Kia KC2700 that I bought last year for use in the farm for hauling palay and for towing my Kobuta combined harvester machine.)

* * *

Typhoon Lando destroyed almost half of our rice crops and felled 14 of my mango trees. Sad to say, we didn’t earn enough to pay for the year’s amortization of our machine. However, this didn’t stop our family from our annual gift-giving to poor families and farmers in our barangay. Sure, we suffered but the farmers suffered more.

This Christmas Day, my wife Lynn and I, with the help of our children Irene and Ryan, will host again the traditional gift-giving although this will not compare with previous ones.

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