By John Macklien A. Olandag | Feature Writer
Vol. XCI No. 13
Dec. 13, 2019
It has always been a great thing to honor our heroes and great figures who made a lasting mark in our history. Athletes are honored with hall of fame awards or jersey retirements and brave warriors are remembered through decorations or commemorative plaques. The present times show different heroes working for liberty against society’s biggest foes, oftentimes through charity or volunteer works. There are those whose portraits come draped with the nation’s flag to honor their unparalleled heroism. As a student, I personally see these heroes as the makers of history, but those heroes that are down under, are the ones who heard the sirens blare, when Christmas wasn’t really the one they were waiting for, but a coin toss of survival or death.
Almost eighty years ago, Japanese imperialists set ablaze the Philippines, bombing cities killing large numbers of the population, to fulfill their imperial expansion. December 1941 to be exact, was where the Philippines tasted its baptism of fire where our grandparents saw horror and gloom at a supposedly happiest time of the year.
Our history books depict a natural scenario of death and obliteration during this moment of history, but are we remembering the acts of valor of our forefathers at a time immemorial? We are at an age where war is but a distant heaven-forbid scenario, and we can see nothing but our liberty as a nation. Our December is a cheerful month for it is where we get to wait for our presents to be opened, where we can have a fellowship with our loved ones. Are we even remembering those who lived the December nights in air raid shelters and with their arms in hand having an uncertain destiny?
For most of us, this is a thing of the past. But can we imagine the families of the fallen ones with their portraits hanged on their walls together with their Christmas decorations? How about those that still live in the present with the sounds of bombs still fresh in their minds during those cold December nights four scores ago? We are always entitled for joy in Christmas season but it would rather be a more fulfilling Yuletide celebration when we spend our exuberant time with these brave warriors, looking more deeply to just the smiles in their faces, but at least having them as an example for us to fight our battles and be more courageous. Heroes don’t show up just for them to be glorified, but for them to be models of a real nation, a true giant lantern for the Christmas season.
When sirens blared, everyone took cover in their shelters, with some at the face of danger to protect their significant others. As we look at our grandparents today, especially the ones who made a stand during those perilous times, maybe we can take a time enabling them to see the products of their valor, a December now enjoyed by all whether there are snows falling or none.
December now is an overwhelmingly season where smiles and laughter fill the air. The only thing that can surprise and shock us is the sudden sound of fireworks. As I see the smiling faces of our surviving grandparents who are at their eighties or nineties, I can feel a dark memory behind them that they tend to forget, but can anytime cause tears in their eyes or fear in their hearts. Our generation generally finds it hard to get through their thoughts yet when we study our own history we won’t get away from knowing these times, where December was a month of bloodshed and sacrifices, and a Christmas as a benchmark of the certainty of survival, rather than a time of lights and children’s carols.
We see history as history given the joy we have today. But the most memorable can be the tragic ones, the most significant, the most dreadful ones, and the happiest, those who lived in a constant sadness and fear. It’s time to appreciate more the beautiful smiles of the elderly, and to appreciate history as a springboard for our significance as a nation.
When sirens blared at those times, little did they know that with their great sacrifice, the sound of bells and carols become sweeter and more beautiful. When fire illuminated then, they illuminated a light of hope more today where hopelessness is already the most severe battle to be fought on.