If a foreigner would ask me, “What is ‘namamasko’ in English?” I would be the most puzzled person in the universe.
Don’t get me wrong. Christmas 2011 is one of the simplest yet one of the best Christmases that I have ever had. I realized who really matters. I appreciated what I have. I felt the love emanating from my family and friends. I made new memories with new friends. I reconnected with old friends. It’s a memorable Christmas for me.
But there is one thing that I hate the most during Christmas besides wrapping gifts and that is those people who are “namamasko.” If you, my dear reader, cannot understand Filipino, I’ll explain the word the best that I could. Namamasko comes from the root word, Pasko, which means Christmas. Additional letters that you see make the word Christmas a verb. However, the big question is, what exactly are you doing if you are acting on the word Christmas?
Sad to say, a lot of Filipinos act on the word to ask money or gifts from another persons in the “spirit of Christmas”. Some sing Christmas carols. The usual ones like “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” or “Sa Maybahay ang Aming Bati.” I wish they would sing more new songs because those were the songs I keep on hearing for twenty-three Christmases that I had celebrated. Nonetheless, I liked them way better than those who just knock on our house or our car doing nothing but extending their palms saying “Namamasko po.”
It’s really revolting and nauseating seeing them beg like that especially during the Christmas Eve and on the Christmas Day where the entire family get together—and then someone knocks on the door carrying a kid and ‘namamasko’. It saddens me the most that a lot parents even encourages their children to go from house to house to ask for money for their Noche Buena, or the meal shared when the clock struck twelve during December 25. Some kids were even as young as two years old. Personally, eating something scrumptious for Noche Buena is way too overrated. Actually, in our house, we do not even celebrate Noche Buena until last year. It’s enough that we are together in our house safe and sleeping soundly. We only celebrated in for these past two years because our cousins invites us to their place after hearing in shock that we never had Noche Buena.
Still, this pamamasko mentality gives an important and alarming message. It shows how we view Christmas nowadays which is a time of materiality. We view Christmas now as Santa Claus who gives gifts to us, not the birth of Jesus who died and save all of us. It’s unhappy seeing even those well-off people become very frustrated because the material things that they ask for in their wish list like the new iPhone 4s or Blackberry Curve or new laptop was not given to them. It disgusts me too, seeing some people eat during the Christmas season looking like it’s the first time they are going to eat well in three months. I cannot comprehend how excited they are seeing five times what they are eating in an ordinary dinner in one sitting. They give the excuse that it’s Christmas anyway, a time for merry-making and enjoyment. But must you eat that excessive? Must you compromise your health because it is Christmas season? No wonder health care and funeral services businesses increase during the Christmas to New Year season. Some people literally died of eating during those days.
I do not want to wake up one day when children and adults had already forgotten Jesus as the main cause for Christmas. If only we put Christ in the midst of the Christmas season, we shall understand that all those excessive food, decorations, lights, glitter and presents are unnecessary. Jesus Christ is born in a simple manger without all of those flashy things. However, Mother Mary and Saint Joseph were the happiest persons on earth at that time because they found happiness in what they have. They found that great love with each other knowing that together they faced our savior for the first time. They hardly have anything in them but since they have this great love, they already have quite more than all the riches in the world.
Christmas should be about thanksgiving. The problem with us is we complain before we count our blessings. We may have a lot of failures on our lives for the past year and that’s all we see. However, we fail to see that God sent us angels through our loved ones that help us stand again after our falls. We fail seeing opportunities that He had made but we failed to perceive because we dwell too much time and energy to our failures. We only see what others have but not what we have now.
We are all blessed. That’s a fact.
That’s why we do not need to beg for grace or go namamasko. God gives us all we need. Rather than asking, we need to give. It need not be material but charity work. For example, one could volunteer for packing the goods for the disheartening tragedy in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City due to typhoon Sendong or Washi. Or one could go caroling or raise funds for the victims’ sakes and not for personal enjoyment. Give. We can never know how much we have until we give.
One more thing before I end this. I do not like hearing people greet each other “Happy Holidays!” This is Christmas, not just any other holidays. Holiday is a way to general term and there are so many holidays we celebrate in a year. Araw ng Kagitingan is a holiday. Andres Bonifacio Day is a holiday. Heck, next year, even Chinese New Year is a holiday. And since they are all holidays, we could greet each other, “Happy Holidays!” on those days, right? Let Christmas shine and become more meaningful in our lives compared to other holidays. After all, this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Let me end this entry from a line from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.