by Patricio P. Diaz,  MindaNews,  Dec. 19, 2003

Patricio P. Diaz is an award-winning
opinion columnist at MindaNews,
originally from Tacdangan, Cabatuan.
Thoughts on Christmas
By Patricio P. Diaz / MindaNews / 19 December 2003

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- To ALL in Mindanews… To ALL my readers, here and abroad …
Wishing YOU a MERRY and BLESSED Christmas!


What is Christmas? To some, time to make money. To many, time to spend money. To many more, time to wish for money.

To some, time to sell gifts. To many, time to exchange gifts. To many more, time to long for gifts.

To some, time to sell toys. To many, time to buy toys. To many more, time to dream of toys.

This is the economic face of Christmas.


What is Christmas? Time for family reunion. Time for homecoming. Time to visit long-missed friends. Time for parties. Time for noche buena. Time for puto (rice cake), suman, kutsinta, and other native delicacies.

Time for hijados and hijadas to visit their ninongs and ninangs. Time to cheer the sick in hospitals, the children in orphanages, the jail inmates, and other unfortunates.

This is the social face of Christmas.


What is Christmas? Time to decorate homes, offices and some public places with Christmas lights and decors. Time to hang lanterns. Time to put up the Belens.

Time for children to hang stockings for Santa Claus to fill with gifts. Time for parents to be Santa.

Time for Misa de Gallo. Time for the Midnight Mass.

These are the mundane and the religious spirits of Christmas.


What is Christmas? Time for reconciliation. Time for peace.

How I wish the Philippine government will reach out to the Muslims, as God reached out to His people by sending them His Only Son, in the true spirit of reconciliation. Hopefully, the Muslims will respond in the true spirit of Islam.

Then, peace will reign. That will the true spirit of Christmas.


Whenever Christmas comes, I remember Christmas among the hills of my native barrio Tacdangan in Cabatuan, Iloilo -- more than 70 years ago. Among the scattered cogon and bamboo houses, there were no Christmas trees, no Christmas lights, no Christmas decorations. In some, there were star lanterns.

There was no gift-giving. There were no special parties. Life went on as usual, except for the daigon (carolers) who visited the farmhouses till past midnight to sing Christmas carols in the dialect. All they got in exchange for their spirit was one centavo, five centavos or ten centavos at the most. At the least, just “Salamat. Pasensya lang kamo, wala kami sing kuarta”. (Thank you, Sorry, we have no money.)

Christmas day was like any other day of the year. There was peace, quiet and contentment. To the poor among the hills, life throughout the year was Christmas peaceful, quiet, contented. Happy? Yes, in their own simple ways.

I think the biggest difference between Christmas 70 years ago and today is commercialism.

(“Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You may e-mail your comments to

This article was originally posted in MindaNews in 2003...
Republished October 25, 2008 on with permission from the author.