Saturday, December 28, 2002

Hello People!

I am in the BUKID now. I am in the Inter cafe of STI in Malaybalay. My cousins, recommended this place because the downloading time is faster. I took me eons to open my blog and they said its fast. GAD! the Manila side of me is already getting impatient with how things move here in the province.

(SHUT UP ERIC! You're in the province! People here have time to be nice with each other. Go back to Manila if you want the fast impersonal service)

Okay, okay! I am thankful na, at least may internet na sila dito

Monday, December 23, 2002

I am leaving Manila tomorrow. I am going to the BUKID (Bukidnon), my hometown, where the air is fresh, the breeze is cool, the nights are quiet and the evening skies are filled with stars, the streets are not congested with vehicles and food is cheap.

This will be the rest from all the headaches Manila possess.

I was watching "All My Life", a TV special of Jules Ledesma and Assunta de Rossi wedding, last night at ABS-CBN. An evening before the wedding, Jules brought Assunta to a sea-side restaurant where they are the only guest. The restaurant is a veranda type to allow the fresh air from the sea to come in. Suddenly, at the opposite of the shores, lights started to come out from the sea. Apparently, there where a hundred or so fisherfolks who lighted to torches one by one. Then a big bonefire was lighted at the opposite side of the shore. Jules children came in with their gifts to Assunta and they were serenaded with Visayan Love Songs by some local singers of San Carlos.

It was supposed to be a very romantic gesture of Jules to Assunta. But hopelessly romantic that I am, I broke into laughter when the couple started to dance. I was singing those Visayan love songs when I saw Assunta embracing the neck of Jules with Jules' face was placed at Assunta's Breast. In case you don't you don't know, Assunta is way taller than Jules. It was the funniest thing I ever saw.

The video was supposed to tickle the romantic in us. I thought I was watching a fairy tale like "Beauty and the Beast" The only is problem, the beast never turned into a handsome prince.

Sunday, December 22, 2002


Today is a Sunday and I am in the office.

Well, our office is a less than 50 meters away from the Union Church of Manila. So after church I came here to finish what is it that needs to be done. I am leaving for the BUKID on the 24th and will be back on the first week of January. If there is a Christmas Rush for shopping, this is another from of Christmas Rush.

This means also that I might not be blogging for quite sometime. You know, our place in the mountains is not that advance. Yes, It has a cellsite, but internet? I don't know and that remains to be seen. If I will be able to blog between the 25th and January 2, that means, there is hope in the Bukid. ( I am so mean, do i need to say something like that about my birthplace?)

So I watched all the TV Talk shows advising to do your Christmas Shopping early. So I've heard how terrible Divisoria would be during the Christmas season. But why did I still went there and shop on a Saturday before Christmas?

Answer is simple. Much as I would like to shop early, I don't have the money. I only got enough money to buy for my family's presents only last Friday. And that money is not enough to shop at the malls of Makati (even so, Glorietta is also crowded). So I went to Tutuban center at 10 in the morning. It wasn't really terrible. Yes, there were plenty of people, but it is not that plenty where one could no longer move. Probably, if you go shop outside Tutuban, that is where you will find difficulty.

Oh!, Did I tell you what I bought? All I can say is they are nice pieces and its cost is within my budget.

Friday, December 20, 2002


So Flo and Zach (the guy and girl at the center) won the Amzaing Race 3. If there is a person more deserving to win, it would be Zach. Despite the difficulties caused by his partner Flo,a selfsih bitch!, he was able to keep his call. By the makings of destiny, Flo and Zach defeated Teri and Ian (the old couple on the right) who landed at second place and borther Ken and Gerard (the two bald guys on the left) and nine other teams (picture shown below) in the race around the world with one milllion dollars as prize.

This is really not my year, the people I was hoping would win did not make it. You can check my previous blogs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Following the traditions of Time Magazine and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, I am making my own Person of the Year. But I since I want more, I making it to 10 Persons of the Year.

Like Time and the PDI, the persons who made it on the this list do not necessarily mean that they have done exemplary deeds (Time once named Adolf Hitler as Man of the Year), they were just controversial or their names hugged the headlines for a period of time.

10. Vice President Teofisto Guingona

Why him? He was Malacañang's headache. He objected to the Balikatan 02-01, made Malacañang to recant its statements, twice, regarding him accepting positions offered by President Arroyo and his resignation as Concurrent Secretary to the Department of Foreign Affairs caused quite a stir.

9. Kumander Robot
Malacañang and the US government confirmed that he is already dead yet they cannot show his body. Many people remain skeptical if this Abu Sayaff leader really died.

8-6 Martin and Gracia Burnham and Ediborah Yap

This is a triple tie for the 8th, 7th and 6th place. They were courage exemplified. Held hostage by the Abu Sayaff for more than a year, these three persons were in our prayers. Martin and Ediborah died, Gracia survived to tell her story (she wrote a book about her ordeals with the bandit group). Many people considered the three as modern day heroes.

5. Philip Medel
Once the self-confessed killer of Nida Blanca who implicated Nida's husband Rod Strunk, he later recanted alleging that he was tortured by the officers of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police. He was freed and once again arrested. Who can't forget the drama he created at the Department of Justice with his arms raised and squirming as if he is a preacher gone mad? And yes! Who can't forget his yucky exchanges of sweet nothings with his wife on a national TV?

4. Rico Yan

Everybody's Lenten vacation were suddenly disturbed when text messages of his death started to spread during this year's Good Friday. Even devout Catholics who were joining the Station of the Cross could no longer concentrate on their prayers. His funeral was covered by television as if he was a head of state who died. His death even overshadowed the death of Britain's Queen Mother. Weeks after his death, the rumors and intrigues regarding the true story of her relationship with ex-girlfriend Claudine Baretto still haunt the press.

3-2. Assunta de Rossi and Congressman Jules Ledesma

"When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong" so goes the lyrics in one of the songs of the West Side Story. This might as well be the song of lovers Assunta de Rossi and Negros Occidental First District Representative Jules Ledesma. They got married in a Civil Wedding last December 14, 2002 in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Prior to their wedding, the Filipiono people witness Assunta's quarrel with her sister Allesandra and her mom. Allegation of Jules using his money to woo Assunta and the Congressman, who is a father of two children by his late wife, is only using the 19 year old sexy actress for her Senatorial ambition surfaced plus all the other bad things about the lovers. And then came Assunta suing his former talent manager allegedly upon Jules' prodding.

At the end, almost everybody hated Assunta, but nothing compares to how most of the TV viewers despise Jules Ledesma. Every time the lovers appear on TV, people can't help but noticed what an unlikely pair they are. But "love conquers all" (that's what they think!). We just hope now that all these are not just mere publicity stint.

1. Congressman Mark "MJ" Jimenez

Controversies never stop to haunt this person. Hailed by deposed President Joseph Estrada as a "corporate genius" (lately Erap is singing a different tune), this guy is wanted by the United States Government for the alleged illegal contribution to the campaign kitty of the President Bill Clinton. When the Supreme Court decided that he couldn't post bail while his extradition case is being heard, a constitutional crisis was on the making when the House of Representatives reacted badly to the SC resolution. Then came the stories of him giving thousands of pesos (if not millions) to his fellow congressman. Last month he delivered a privilege speech where he accused Secretary of Justice Nani Perez of extorting two million dollars from him. Those who are close to the Perez alleged it was Jimenez desperate attempt to evade extradition.

Then just this week, he called a news program of a TV Network where he accused First Gentleman Mike Arroyo of receiving eight million pesos from him. Yesterday, the Supreme Court came out with resolution which would now lead to his eventual arrest. Jimenez suddenly decided to submit himself to US authorities where he will be tried and said he will be leaving for the US before Christmas making the extradition useless.

Can you believe this? In an effort to raise funds for the government, the International Monetary Fund recommended TAXES FOR TEXT MESSAGING! Read this story from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

IMF wants texting
taxed; P44B a year

Posted: 0:39 AM (Manila Time) | Dec. 18, 2002
By Clarissa Batino
Inquirer News Service


THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund is urging the cash-strapped Macapagal administration to lobby Congress to pass a law that would affect about 14 million Filipinos making President Macapagal-Arroyo even more unpopular than she already is.

The law would impose excise taxes on text messaging to raise substantial revenues for a government mired in a chronic deficit problem.

Along with two other tax measures, IMF head of mission Joshua Felman said the government must implement the three tax measures within the next six months or its fiscal problems would worsen.

The two other tax measures proposed by the IMF are the lifting of the exemption of professionals from the value-added tax and the indexation of taxes on beer and tobacco.

IMF representatives yesterday concluded a 12-day, twice-a-year assessment of the country's economic progress under a post-loan arrangement called post-program monitoring.

The IMF official said the Fund has no specific recommendations as to the level of the tax that must be levied on text messaging. This is something, he added, that the government must figure out.

There are proposals in Congress to impose a tax of 5 to 7 percent on telecommunications firms.

"Next year seems likely to be challenging. The continuing erosion of the government's tax base as well as the tariff reductions of the National Power Corp. have increased the overall public sector external borrowing requirement, just at a time when prospects for emerging market financing are subject to considerable uncertainty," said the IMF official.

Felman said that the government's taxes were currently concentrated on the two most troubled sectors of the economy; banking and manufacturing.

On the other hand, the more dynamic sectors like telecommunications and exports have been enjoying tax incentives and have been lightly taxed.


Currently, there are close to 14 million mobile phone subscribers and each sends an average text message of from eight to 10 daily. This should translate to revenues of 120 pesos to 130 million pesos in a day, about 3.6 billion pesos in a month, and 44 billion pesos in a year.

The short messaging system or SMS phenomenon made the Philippines the world's texting capital.

Anticipating strong opposition to the proposal, Felman said that every time a tax on text was brought up, everybody would squeal.

The finance department, for instance, had brought up a plan to impose taxes on text messaging several times but had always met strong resistance from the public.

"But that's the point. When you try to tax less dynamic sectors, nobody would complain but then you would not collect revenues at all. But when everybody squeals, it means you are making an impact," said the IMF official.

Felman said with the volume of text messages in this country, even a modest tax would raise considerable amount of funds and help the Bureau of Internal Revenue raise its tax effort from a low of 9.8 percent of gross domestic product this year.

"The government's fiscal performance had been disappointing to everyone," said the IMF official.

The government is expecting a budget deficit of 223 billion pesos this year against an original target of 130 billion pesos after revenue collection drastically fell while spending increased.

Next year, the government said it would bring down the deficit to about 202 billion pesos but the IMF believed that aggressive spending a year before the elections would push the fiscal gap to 230 billion pesos.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I am sick!

That is what I paid for for a weekend of fun! Sometimes, our body never learns to cooperate!

I was in Basilica (as usual!) last Friday with my friend Lloyd. Other than the fun, we were in search of a man, any pleasing man that would bring us to bed. But that didn't happen in Basilica. By 1:00 a.m., we transferred to Jefz Cafe along Leon Ginto only to find out that the place is already deserted at 1:00 early saturday morning, except for the two gay host and that fat lady host who sung as if she is the only singer in the place. Too bad, Jefz happens to be the pioneer in sing-along bars in Malate.

Lloyd and I decided to try our luck along España. If Lloyd was unlucky (he wasn't able to find one), I was luckier that night (or so I thought). I met a guy named Jhong. When asked why is he at España at that time, he answered he was waiting for his borad mates (what a good excuse). Jhong claimed that he looks like Dingdong Dantes, although I don't find him that way, he was nevertheless cute with a good body. We ended in one of those sleazy motel near Quiapo.

I went home at 5 a.m. with Jhong making kulit of me buying him a load for his cellphone (duh! I didn't give in of course, I got what I want na! hehehehehehe).

I was able to sleep at around 5:30 a.m. only to be awaken by the persistent ringing of my cellphone at 10 a.m. It was my boss calling and he needs to make a press release about a SEC resolution that is expected to come out by monday. I was in the office by 11 a.m. and went home again at 1:00 p.m., slept for an hour and by 4 I was back at our office to meet my officemates. We were going to my boss' house in Alabang for our Christmas Party. I need to be there because the big boss of the insurance company, where my boss is the SVP, will be there and they would hopefully take me as one of the regular employees of the company (in case you're wondering, I am being employed personally by my boss).

We have to go home at 10 p.m. I slept at 11 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning for my Church practice.

8:45 church service.

By 10 a.m. I was with my aunt and we were on our way to Las Piñas to help her pack her stuff since she just moved to her new condo along Taft. we were over by 3 p.m. and were on our way to Taft by 4 p.m.

By 6 p.m. I went back to the church to watch the "Gloria" a Christmas cantata by Antonio Vivaldi which featured the artist like Jai Sabas-Aracama, Lisa Cabahug and the Manila Shymphonmic Orchestra II. By 11 p.m. I was back at home.

By 12 midnight my body gave in.

I was sick the whole day yesterday.

Now I am back in the office although I am not feeling well.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Today is Friday the 13th! Do I need to worry?

I am mourning right now! Derek and Drew were eliminated in last night's episode of the Amazing Race 3. After John Vito and Jill were eliminated, I wanted these twin model to win the one miliion dollars jackpot but they weren't too lucky. Worst, I don't like any of the teams left.

Flo is still a bitch, Ian is another son of a bitch and Ken and Gerard? I just don't like them!

So I have to choose the lesser evil.

I would like to see Teri and Ian win. Even if Ian I don't like Ian, It would be nice to see these 50 year old grandparents defeating the physically able younger contestants.

For more information about the amazing race 3 click the link above.

Thursday, December 12, 2002


Have you ever watched a television and you are so mad at one of the characters that you would want to get inside the bob tube and box or kick the person? Well if you were watching the Amazing Race 3 (shown at CBS in the US and at Studio 23 and AXN in the Philippines) you would want to the same once you see this girl shown in the picture below:

Her name is flo and she is the team mate of Zach (they finished 3rd in last weeks episode). Flo is a BITCH! Don't get me wrong, I love bitches, I have them as friends. I love bitches who knows how to stand by their principles and won't let anybody put them down so easily. What I hate is the other kind of "bitch". Those bitches who are so self centered and what matter to them is their own personal gain. Flo is the latter kind of bitch.

Now that guy beside her is Zach, her partner. At first she keeps on saying both she and Zach is a perfect team. Well, bitch that she is she should be happy, because despite her very very very bad attitude, she has Zach, loving and patient as a partner. But that patience won't last long. As seen in the last episode, Zach was showing some signs of irritation especially when Flo shouted at him when he refused to give their map to Kevin and Gerard who at the time were helping them. They are supposed to be friends and are trying to find out if they can work out a romantic relationship. Well, with how things are going, that won't likely happen. Good for Zach! at least this early he knows what kind of bitch Flo is.

And here's more! While talking good things about Zach, Flo is flirting with Drew, the other pair of the gorgeous twin model (Derek, Drew's twin is already married).

And WORST! Drew is flirting back. Before, I was hoping that Derek and Drew would win in this race (they were the first placer in the last episode), but since Drew was flirting with Flo, I am starting to dislike them. Yes, that's them in the picture below:

I was hoping John Vito and Jill would make it (picture shown below), but they came in last at the Singapore Pit Stop, thus they were the latest team to be eliminated. I've just learned from the CBS survey that John Vito and Jill were the most popular team garnering 83% of the votes while Derek and Drew had 78%.

Too bad, this couple already lost the chance to win the One Million Dollars jackpot. But, they have each other and they are planning to get married soon, have some children and grandchildren. Best Wishes then for Joh Vito and Jill.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Why is it that despite the parols and the Christmas lights along Ayala (and all other major thoroughfares of Manila) I still can't feel the Christmas spirit? Isn't because until now, I am still worrying if I would still have enough money to go home?

Why do we always associate Christmas with spending? Ewan ko ba?!

Thursday, December 05, 2002

How can one ascertain that he is ready for a married life?

I asked this because I just received a news that my friend Morris and Ellen are getting married on the 21st of December. Both are two or three years younger than me.

What is really in the mind of a man when he asked the girl to marry him? And what is in the mind of the girl when she accepts the proposal?

Marriage is a big step that one must seriously consider. How are we going to arrive at such decisions?

I am asking these questions probably because I have never been so in love to contemplate marriage. I hope that I will be able to experience the feeling of a groom-to-be. It could be the best feeling one could ever have. Honestly people, despite my preference, I still don't discount the possibilty of falling in love with a girl again. So in love that I would want to live a monogamous life with her for the rest of our lives.

Ano na ba 'tong sinasabi ko? I am such a hopelessly romantic fool!


What if my eight-year-old self is standing in front of me right now and will ask me what happened to him 18 years after? What if he will ask, at 26 year old, do I still want those things I dream about when I was still eight? Or do I still believe on matters I hold on as true when I was still eight? Can my eight-year-old self recognize me at 26? Or am I a totally different person?

I was confronted with these questions when I watched Disney's "The Kid" in HBO last week. Bruce Willis starred the said movie. Here's the synopsis of the movie by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat :

Shortly before his fortieth birthday, Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) starts seeing things. He's convinced that some person in an old red airplane is buzzing him on the highway. Oddly enough, when he was a young boy his ambition was to be a pilot. Instead, he is now a wildly successful, workaholic image consultant who enjoys bossing around his wealthy clientele and his faithful assistant Janet (Lily Tomlin).

This wheeler-dealer lives alone in a fancy house, and it's no wonder. He doesn't relate very well to people. When his father (Daniel Von Bergen) asks for help with a move, Russ gives him a check to cover the expenses. He isn't much better in his personal relationship with Amy (Emily Mortimer), a business associate who is offended when Russ exploits some children in order to save face for a besieged baseball team owner. The only one Russ can turn to for advice is Deirdre (Jean Smart), an L.A. television anchor he meets on an airplane.
Russ never talks about his past. That's probably why one day Rusty (Spencer Breslin), Russ's eight-year-old self, shows up. The boy is a crybaby, weak, overweight, and picked on by older kids. Russ is embarrassed by him. But then Rusty is not very impressed with what he has become in middle age — a lonely, driven, single man who doesn't even have a dog.

The Kid is one of those special movies that compels us to consider our lives afresh. How have we treated our "inner child" and the incidents in our past that have deeply influenced us? What family wounds have we still not resolved? And are we capable of embracing all that we have been and all that we are now?

* * *

What was I at 8?

I was thin, weak, insecure and a crybaby. My mother was working as a cashier at the Department of Public Works and Highways, my father is a laborer of the same government agency. The boys in my class and in my neighborhood constantly picked on me and called me all those unpleasant things you don't want to hear as a kid (bayot, double-blade, pangit, etc.). I don't know how to fight back, my only refuge is to run and cry. I live in a very small house that does not have any foundations (the wooden post of our old house was literally placed on top of a rock). My only source of entertainment are the encyclopedias (20 volume of New Arthur Mess Children's Encyclopedia and six volumes of Popular Science by Grolier) my mom bought and a radio. I had a few matchbox toys and few clothes, I never had a game and watched (even a brick game!).

My favorite past time is listening to Cebuano soap operas of Radio Mindanao Network (DXMB in Malaybalay, DXCC in Cagayan de Oro and DYHP in Cebu). My parents can't afford the five pesos orchestra seat in the movie house in Malaybalay that has a double showing. I love to visit my neighbor's house and play bahay-bahayan or any game we could think of. I love to dance and to sing.

I was baduy.

As a child, I believe that there is a Santa Clause though I haven't experienced putting a stocking on the wall because my mom won't allow it. I believe that only through good work and diligence could land you in a position you want. I believe that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I believe that your wish could be answered if you wish on a falling star. I am naïve and will easily trust on the promises of friends and the people around me.

There are things about me though that I now I am blessed compared to the other kids of my age. My level of intelligence is a notch higher than a regular kid of my age. I am a fast learner and a very independent child. I survived elementary and high school without any assistance from my parents for my assignments and homework. As long as I can handle a problem, I was able to solve it on my own. I love to talk and listen to the conversation of older people. In class, I am one of those to reckon with in terms of recitation. I don't have a stage fright.

Despite this, there is one big problem, being a student in a school where your family's social standing matters, I wasn't given enough chance to show what I can do. When selection time comes, I am usually sidelined in favor of those kids coming from the members of the alta sociedad.

That was I as a child. Other people might consider me a loser, but I was determined to change all that.

In the movie, there was a scene where Rusty asked Russ what happened to him in between him the eight year old Rusty and the 39 year old Russ. Russ told him how he transformed from being a "loser" to a big shot image consultant and how a scholarship at UCLA helped him.

Well, if Russ is a true person we might be having parallel lives. College changed my life, Silliman changed me. College thought me how to be cultured and appreciate film, theater, and classical music. And yes, college thought me how to speak better English.

Now, as a young professional in Makati City, I am exposed to the finer things in life. I develop a taste. On the other hand, I am also exposed to the harsh realities in life, of how people took advantage of your trust and loyalty, of how people used each other in order to succeed.

Now, there is a part of me that would want to erase what I was as a child. When I think of Malaybalay there is always a heavy heart attached to it. It is nice to watch that film an remind ourselves that yes we could change for the better but from time to time, it would be nice to get hold of our "inner child". That despite the sophistication we achieve or would want to possess, we can still have those simple joys like what we experienced as a child. It would still be good to leave a part of us that would still believe on the goodness of some people.

If am standing in front of my eight-year-old self now, I would be telling him I've changed. But he need not to worry, because deep in my heart I still have the Eric who loves to frolic at the river at the back of our house, who loves to sing and dance, who loves to eat sour guavas, santol and mangoes and dip it in a sauce made of mixed toyo, vinegar and rock salt. The same Eric who finds happiness in reading stories of triumph, who loves to run in the field covered with green grass and bathed by the rays of the afternoon sun and would later on lay on the same grass field and watch at the star-filled sky of Bukidnon and make a wish on the falling star. The same Eric who loves to climb fruit trees in our front and back yard and happily distributes freshly picked fruits to my neighbors, sisters and friends. The same Eric who cries at sentimental movies of Sharon, Nora and Vilma.

Ohh, it's nice to be in touch with your inner child again and be filled with wonder on its innocence and forget, for the time being, the strife and hatred you watched and listen in places you move.

Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are vision, but only illusions,
Rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong wait and see
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connections.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard unanswered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that.
And someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What so amazing that keeps us star gazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connections.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Have we been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is it the sweet sound that calls the young sailor.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connections.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002


The Christmas season is in the air again.

In his sermon during the first Sunday of advent, Pastor Doug Beyer of the Union Church of Manila in Makati mentioned this very interesting facts:

The first Christmas never happened on December 25, 1 A.D. As a matter of fact for the first 200 years A.D., Christians never celebrated Christmas. Even today, some scholars still argue if Jesus was really born on December 25, 1 A.D. Basing on the account in the Bible, no shepherds would be stupid enough to stay in the field on a very cold winter evening. Thus, base on the accounts from the Bible where the angels announced the birth of Christ to the lowly shepherds who were tending their sheeps in the field, the first Christmas should never occur on December.

Here's some interesting facts. The early Romans celebrated the Festival of Saturnalia on December 17 and this celebration would last for seven days (that's Decemebr 24!). On the 25th, they would celebrate the mirth of Mirtha with a big merry making where they will be exchanging gifts, dancing and eating.

Now on the 4th Century A.D., the Christians were now in power in the Emperial Rome. Recognizing this very important pagan holiday in the Roman Calendar, the Pope Liberius converted it from a pagan holiday to a Christain holiday. They called it "Christ's Mass". So we see, our Christmas celebration has a pagan origin.

Now, now, now, I hope you won't get me wrong. I am not saying that we should no longer celebrate Christmas now and forget the centuries of meaningful Christmas celebrations and traditions. What really matters is that we shouldn't forget the real meaning of Christmas. That is, Christ was born, Christ the God became flesh who would later on die for our sins. That should be our reason to celebrate Christmas. Because if we bother too much on the gift giving and all the other expenses we incur during Christmas, then we are no different from the early Romans who celebrated the pagan Feast of Saturnalia.

How I wish I could tell this to my mother and sisters who are expecting expensive gifts from me this Christmas (hehehehehe).

All this aside, I wish you all a meaningful celebration of Chrirstmas this year!


(Full text sermon of Pastor Doug Beyer)
Matthew 3:1-3

Are you ready for Christmas? Each year preparations for Christmas starts a little earlier—Especially here in the Philippines . Someday I expect to see Santa riding in on a turkey in time for thanksgiving. With zealous enthusiasm approaching religious fanaticism....


There's no denying its quasi-religious overtones. Throughout the land Santa sits on his throne in his commercial temple where children offer prayers for his presents. Merchants who show little religious interest during the year display nativity scenes in their store windows. Even Jewish businessmen can sing sincerely, "What a friend we have in Jesus."

There is a new Christmas story--this one written in four chapters: anticipation, acceleration, intoxication and prostration. A greeting card asks the question: "Ever wonder why Rudolph's nose is so red? Santa's sleigh isn't the only thing that's loaded." In the minds of many Christmas is associated with drinking and debauchery as well as a great spending spree and business boom. The most enchanting bells of Christmas have become the tinkling of cash registers. We must be careful lest we be swept away by the "Yule tide." A child spoke unintentional wisdom who prayed, "Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us."

A little green man from Mars could walk the malls of Makati and never guess that Christmas had anything to do with the birth of God's Son. He would see dazzling lights and beautiful bells and candles and trees but have no clue they have any religious meaning. The decorations down Ayala avenue and in the surrounding neighborhoods are spectacular, but I ask, what on earth does all this have to do with Christmas? The innocuous, "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays," tell us nothing of the significance of this celebration. I'd like to see us have a real "old fashioned Christmas" celebration instead of the new-fangled "Christmas sellabration" designed by commercial and secular interests.

We pause in the midst of this “blight before Christmas” and wonder where it all began. That's a surprising story. The first surprise is that it did not begin on December 25 in the Year 1 A. D. Biblical scholars are not agreed on the exact date of Jesus' birthday, but one thing is sure. No shepherd in his right mind would be out in the fields watching his flocks by night in the middle of the winter. In December both shepherds and sheep would be trying to stay warm waiting for spring before they ventured too far from the fold.

You may also be surprised to know that Christians did not celebrate Christmas for the first 200 years after Christ. Of course, they celebrated his death and resurrection—they celebrated it once a week—but nobody gave much attention to his birth until the fourth century A. D. That was about the time Christians had very recently acquired political power in Rome . They faced a problem. The most popular holiday on the Roman calendar was an ancient pagan festival called Saturnalia. Beginning December 17 and lasting 7 days they worshiped the god Saturn by lighting candles, exchanging gifts and eating great banquet meals--often with drunkenness and debauchery. Then on December 25 they celebrated the birth of their god Mithra. To counteract the immorality of these ancient festivals, Pope Liberius converted it from a pagan holiday into a Christian holy day. They called it "Christ's Mass," Christmas. This conversion, obviously, was never really completed. Even today, there is a strange mixture of the sacred and the profane in our preparations for Christmas.


The Christmas for which commercial business prepares resembles the ancient Roman Saturnalia more than the advent of Jesus Christ. But God's preparation for Christmas began long before the Saturnalia. He began preparing when he announced to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden that one of their descendants would bruise the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15 ). That is, he will deal a mortal wound to Satan, the tempter. God continued his preparation for Christmas by revealing the Messiah's nation to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-2), his tribe to Jacob (Genesis 49:10), his family to David (2 Samuel 7:16), his place of birth to Micah (Micah 5:2), his time of birth to Daniel (Daniel 9:25-26), his forerunner to Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6), and his name to Mary (Matthew 3:1-3). The Old Testament is a record of God's preparation for Christmas--the advent of his Son, Jesus Christ.

The New Testament opens with the birth announcement of John the Baptist by an angel who declared that he was "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17 ). His Christmas message sounds strange to our Saturnalia tuned ears. He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand....Make ready the way of the Lord." He gave them fair warning, but people still weren't ready. King Herod imprisoned and beheaded the preparer, John the Baptist. God's preparation was rejected by unprepared people. Are you prepared?


There are two Christmases for which we prepare. On the one hand, we prepare for the festival of Christmas. At worst, the festival of Christmas is no better than the pagan Saturnalia. At best, it cheers in northern climates a dreary winter season. Festivals are fun, as long as we don't get confused and think we are doing something religious. Maybe what we ought to do is take Christ out of Christmas, that is, out of the festival, the modern Saturnalia. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it is to quit kidding ourselves that Christ has anything at all to do with it. Quit trying to sing the Messiah to the tune of Jingle Bells.

I dare say that a lot of what you have been doing and will be doing this month is preparing for the festival of Christmas. But remember, there are two Christmases: the festival and the fact. You may or may not be ready for the festival of Christmas, but the crucial question is, "Are you ready for the fact of Christmas?" Apart from all the noise and nonsense, the superficial tinsel of the festival, is the wonder-filled fact that the eternal Son of God came to sinful earth to take on our human nature, with all its limitations and frailties. He came to live our life and die our death, to suffer all the horrible humiliation, the hatred, pain and sorrow. He came all the way from a crude manger in a smelly barn to a cruel cross on a hill of shame. He came all the way from the glory of heaven to the gates of hell. The fact of Christmas is that in Christ God has landed on planet earth. He has invaded our world (Matthew 10:34 ). There will be a victory, but no armistice until he reigns as the King of kings.

Do you really think he come to earth just to give us a bit of gaiety and gladness, a season of cheer, a break in the tensions of our times, a sentimental note of good will? Is that what he came to do? NO! Christ paid too dear a price for such a cheap Christmas.

The text for John the Baptist's Christmas sermon was taken from Isaiah 40:3-5. "A voice cries, 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'"

Isaiah the prophet and John the Baptist tell us how to prepare for the fact of Christmas. First of all we need to deal with traffic congestion. The great intersections of our lives where freedom and responsibility meet are as choked as Edsa and Ayala on a Friday night. The wilderness areas of our lives, the great undeveloped wastelands, need a highway! The Lord of hosts needs an uncrowded freeway upon which to establish his supply and maintenance route. The rough and rugged places within us need leveling. "Let every heart prepare him room."

Are you prepared for Christmas? Not just the festival, but the fact? Listen to him whom God sent to prepare the way: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Christmas, the real Christmas, the fact of Christmas is only for those who repent, who have changed their minds. That’s what repent means literally: think it through again.

The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Turn around. You're going the wrong way. Prepare to meet the great Fact of Christmas. Come to Him who came to earth to reveal God and redeem you. You will never be the same. Christ who was born in Bethlehem will be born again in you.