MANILA, Philippines — For Filipinos who have lost their loved ones, celebrating this year’s Christmas will feel different – as it is marked by grief over the loss. But a 25-year old Filipino preschool teacher believes that amid the sadness, the Christmas spirit will help her kababayans find the strength to start the healing process.
Claudine Claudio, who teaches three- to four-year-old children in her family’s own Little Ranch Learning Center in Parañaque, shared that her Christmas would not be the same this year as her family lost a grandmother, whom they usually visit on the 25th of December.
“Hindi naman sa wala na kaming reason para mag-celebrate sa twenty-five, pero si Lola kasi ang reason kung bakit kami pumupunta sa kanila tuwing Pasko,” Claudio said in an interview.
“Masakit lang yung minsan mo na lang makikita yung tao, siya pa yung mawawala,” she added. Claudio lost her lola August this year because of old-age and a lingering illness.
Claudio said that she could not imagine the pain suffered by the family members of the more than 1,000 Filipinos who perished because of Typhoon ‘Pablo’, but that she hopes that Filipinos will remain resilient and rise amid the challenges.
“Hindi naman natin pwedeng hilingin na mawala ang bagyo kasi nandyan na yan…pero sana laging maniwala ang mga Pinoy na there’s always hope…kung paulit ulit na pinahihirapan, paulit ulit rin na bumangon kasi ilang beses na rin natin napatunayan na kaya natin,” she said.
`Moving on’ outlook
Claudio said it was important for Filipinos to find a “moving on, moving forward” outlook in life to deal with the pain, and draw strength from the people who “love and care for us.”
“Kami, syempre naman ipagpapatuloy namin yung Pasko at pupunta pa rin kina lola, bibisitahin ang mga tito and tita,” she said.
Aside from remembering the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, Claudio believes that Christmas is about sharing “moments of togetherness, and making time for our loved ones.”
Born and raised in a close family, Claudio said she always looked forward to Christmas as a time for having fun with members of the family.
Lost in a busy world
But Claudio lamented how people these days easily get lost in a busy world, and so they forget to realize that they have distanced themselves from people who matter the most to them.
Drawing from the experiences of her nursing friends who worked as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Claudio shared that her wish this year is for families and friends to make extra efforts to let their presence for their loved ones be dearly felt, and that they make it a commitment to maintain that healthy relationship.
She said she hoped that hearts would be more open to reconciliation and forgiveness despite the unavoidable misunderstandings and unexpressed ill-feelings towards members of the family.
“Sana kahit malayo sa isa’t isa ay sikapin na maging maayos yung relasyon sa isa’t isa…mahirap pag nawalan ka ng family member or friend kaya dapat sulitin na ang bawat oras na makasama sila,” Claudio said.
Though she lost her dear lola this year, Claudio happily shared that she gained new friends in the online community of Instagramers Manila (IGers Manila), and that she found people who could relate to her passion of “telling stories through photos.”
Her photo entry to one of the online group’s 9pmhabit Christmas photo challenge was recently picked for Inquirer.net’s Paskong Pinoy special.
She shared that her photo, featuring a dramatic view of a Christmas tree with no gifts at the bottom, was her way of interpreting the theme “Filipino time during Filipino Christmas,” as she said that Filipinos engaged in last minute shopping sprees during the yuletide season.
Asked about her plans for 2013, the simple girl with a big passion for learning said she was faced with the dilemma of choosing to continue her studies in medicine or continue with teaching in their family’s school.
Claudio shared that she graduated with a nursing degree and passed the nursing board exams but that because of reasons of practicality, she took courses in education so that she could learn to manage the school that was founded by her mother.
Though she seemed unsure of how to get the best of both worlds, Claudio was determined to do two things: share her skills and talents with others, and live life with no regrets.
Teaching pre-school children for three years now, she said that she finds accomplishment in “sharing the gift of learning” to her students and commits herself to making sure that they value the importance of education.
“(Teaching) It’s a big thing for me, kahit gaano kakulit yung bata gusto ko matuto siya pag dumaan siya sa akin, kasi it reflects on myself din as a teacher kapag natuto siya,” she said, adding that she remained hopeful that the youth would make big changes for the country.
But Claudio said she missed the times when she volunteered as a nurse, noting that doctors and nurses “shared the gift of life” by taking care of people all year round. She lauded the perseverance and dedication of the “underappreciated” Filipino nurses, and how they selflessly offer themselves during “trying” times.
Claudio said that 2013 will be another year of choices and learning new experiences, and though she was not yet certain of what she truly wanted, she wanted to try new things just so she could tell herself that she lived her life without regrets.
“Ngayon kahit naman sabihin mo na parang kalat kalat ako dahil ang dami kong inaaral, at least gusto ko yung ginagawa ko,” Claudio said, noting that she would also be taking courses in dressmaking to hone her skills in the arts.
“Para pag matanda na ako, hindi ko ire-regret na hindi ko ginawa yung mga bagay na gusto kong gawin…try lang ng try saka na pumili,” she said.