Posted by: nastypen | December 7, 2008

Best Christmas Party

(Written Dec. 6, 11:42pm) My vertigo is acting up again. I should rest. But I decided against it. I went to the UP Manila’s Department of Arts and Communication’s Christmas Party. This is my very first Christmas party as a member of the faculty. Last year, I skipped it because I was already in the Visayas. This time, I really wanted to go.

Months ago, Department Chairman Prof. Gina Salazar suggested that instead of having a Christmas party at the faculty room, we pool our money and celebrate our party at the Asosasion de Damas Filipinas, a house for disadvantaged children who are neglected, or abandoned or orphaned at a young age.

This settlement house was erected way back in 1919. But ten years ago, it was gutted by a fire that killed 23 children and 4 house parents. Now, the house has been rebuilt. Today, we visited more than 70 wards of the settlement house whose ages range from 6 months (!) to 12 years.

Of course, I wanted to be there. What better way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas but to be amongst the marginalized and neglected? This is substantial compared to those idiotic theme parties of corporations.

It was one of the best Christmas parties in my life. And i have attended so few Christmas parties because most of the time it’s all about material accumulation or a blatant display of it. What will I get in the exchange gifts? Have they given us the bonus? Have I finished my Christmas groceries? What are the colors that are cool this season? Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

So, today, I gamely wore a Santa hat and went into the home. I guess we didn’t have budget for a beard and I recently clipped mine. And the children were looking at me strangely because I did not really look like Santa. I mean I have Santa’s shape, but not exactly Santa. I wanted to tell them, “Children, I am Santa Santita, Santa Claus’s gaysian cousin.”

We watched the children perform for us. I could feel my lip twitching from shame that these children have almost nothing and they were singing what a beautiful day it is today.

MC and I bought children’s books from Adarna, OJ donated her Lampara books to the children. I was one of the storytellers. I told a story from Adarna books’s Filemon Mamon, about a fat kid who wanted to be Andres Bonifacio but instead was picked to be a villainous friar because of his girth. I enjoyed making the children scream “Sugod, mga kapatid!

Now, if you know me, you know my disdain for children. I like them when they are cute, but I cringe at the sight of mucous dangling from the nose or the sound of bratty screeching. But what can I do? Most of the time, children like me.

Mikee and MC commented how “surprisingly good” I was at storytelling. And the kids came up to me and rubbed my belly, asked to be carried, leaned on me, and hugged me.

I felt quite paternal for a few minutes until I realized I can barely keep myself alive what more for a child ergo I have to expunge thoughts of fatherhood. I borrowed MC’s bottle of rubbing alcohol to wash away those delusions of parenthood

Of course, Ryan is the best storyteller. I enjoyed watching the children seriously paying attention to the story about hygiene. We had games. The favorite was “Bring me.” JPaul said, “Bring me uban (gray hair)” and the kids almost dogpiled one of the old caretakers and harvested his head of hair. The kids did dogpile on Ryan on one occasion and I think they saw fear in my eyes when some ran towards me.

Well, some kids wanted to be picked up and I picked up two and thank goodness my back did not give way. I actually carried them like a daddy would.

One child really warmed up to Burn, until the little boy started to pull out his hair. Now, Burn is really good with kids. He had a small boy sit on his lap as Burn helped feed him. I think I draw the line there. I cannot feed children because I may give them my “I want to eat your food, too” face.

Ryan wanted Mikee to sing an operatic aria for the children. Mikee amost screamed “no.” I guess children cannot handle androgyny in the level of high art. Mikee instead took a ton of photos.

We distributed their gifts; small packets of candies and pillows. As we handed out the presents (Ate Novel bought from Divisoria) I thought of the houses in Forbes Park or some other rich enclave in Manila; one house there with its Christmas decoration and electric bill for December should be worth the same amount that can feed, clothe, shelter children like these for months.

Where’s the justice in that?

But I guess Christmas is not about Justice. It’s more than that.

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