"Bagong taon," is it really new?
By Rudy A. Arizala
01 January 2008
At the stroke of 12:00 midnight between 31 December 2007 and 01 January 2008, we say we welcome the New Year. So we welcome it joyously with parties, dances, sumptuous foods, drinks, exploding firecrackers or fireworks. And of course, many people attend the midnight mass in Thanksgiving and pray that the coming year be a blessed and bountiful one. We also make what we call "New Year´s Resolution" of what we are going to do or make plans for the coming year. There is nothing wrong with that. We have to make amends or reform ourselves, make plans and hope for a better tomorrow.
But is it really new?
To answer this question, I looked back some forty years ago. And hereunder is what I found among my entries in my diary in 1968.
01 January 1968.
I think it is but proper to begin this diary for 1968, by quoting one of the editorials in The New York Times, dated December 31, 1967, entitled: "Old Year, New Year." It says:
"The old year ends and the new year begins, we say trying to make time our servant and, in a sense, succeeding. By rounding out the year, bounding and naming it, we persuade ourselves that we are summing up the past and making a new start. In our part of the world the calendar´s turn even brings winter´s white, clean blanket that masks the world´s scars and, symbolically at least, invites man to write a brand new chapter in human affairs.
"But in the natural world there are no such boundaries. There are cycles and eternal rhythms not only all about us but throbbing through us. This is a world not only of bud and blossom and seed but of breath and pulse and sentient nerves. It is a world of growth and ripening and rest and growth again, a world of rain and snowflake and ice crystal, of wind and sun and starlight. Who ever tried to sum up sunlight, or rain or the breath of a newborn child?
"A new year, another chance, we say. And it is if we make it so. But a summary or a pause, no. Time waits for no totals to be drawn. Our attempts to grasp it, halt it even briefly, are fumbling at best. We call it the years´s turn, and yet today´s daylight already is three minutes longer that it was a week ago. Spring was patterned in the buds before October´s bright leaves fell. Tomorrow is not a beginning; it is a going on, a part of the unending continuity that gives meaning to all the tomorrows."
(End of the Editorial).
The following are my other entries for the day.
This morning, it stopped snowing. The branches of trees near our window are covered with snow. It is a sunny day. The New York Times headline for today is "Mediators Hope to Avert Transit Walkout Today; Some Progress Reported." The international scene is preoccupied on Vietnam War. There is imperceptible move for peace negotiation.
The priest at the Blessed Sacrament Church where my wife and I attended mass preached to start peace within ourselves through love, understanding and goodwill.
Thus, there is really nothing new. Yesterday, as it is today and even tomorrow, we are still in the constant pursuit of peace, understanding, love and goodwill. As correctly observed by The York Times Editorial quoted above, "tomorrow is not a beginning; it is a going on, a part of the unending continuity that gives meaning to all the tomorrows."
Indeed, to borrow again the words of the editorial:
"This is a world not only of bud and blossom and seed but of breath and pulse and sentient nerves. It is a world of growth and ripening and rest and growth again, a world of rain and snowflake and ice crystal, of wind and sun and starlight. Who ever tried to sum up sunlight, or rain or the breath of a newborn child?"
In the Philippines, especially in Infanta, Quezon when we were kids, amidst exploding firecrackers, we welcome the New Year by going from house-to-house banging or making noise with empty kerosene cans shouting "Mabuhay!" and the respective owners of the house would give us token gift of bread (tinapay na sibakIn) wrapped in newspaper. We do this at the stroke of 12 midnight and lasts up to 3:00 o'clock at dawn.
"Mabuhay" signifies wishing you "long life" and the bread symbolizes to go on living and sharing with proper body and spiritual nourishments. . . "unending continuity that gives meaning to all the tomorrows."
"MABUHAY AT MASAGANANG BAGONG TAON SA INYONG LAHAT!"