In an age where every writer claims to be engaged with their readers, J.K. Rowling exemplified the truly connected author. For her, I wish continued creativity and commitment. Even as she wrote another great thriller as Robert Galbraith, she championed the charitable causes she believed in and also led the continuation of the Harry Potter universe.
She’s a powerful voice on Twitter. She pushed for the new Potterverse film, “Fabulous Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and stood up for the casting of a black girl named Noma Dumezweni as Hermione in the upcoming play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
This coming year is very big for Harry Potter fans and for Rowling. She deserves everything good coming her way.
It has been a very busy and hectic year for my family—traveling constantly and working very hard—so for them I wish quiet and rest, an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves before the happy business of the new year begins. I think people don’t realize the value of family until it is nearly taken away from them, and it is during these crazy, eventful days that the treasure that is having a family that sincerely looks out for you becomes evident. It’s something I’ve become thankful for every day.
To my mom, my siblings, my in-laws and my nieces and nephews, I wish the best the future has to offer.
Happiness for Robin Williams, protection for animals
By Alya Honasan
This Christmas, if I could, I would give all people running from war, discrimination and persecution the gift of acceptance and peace, wherever they may be.
I would give Robin Williams more happy time on earth, because he made many people happy. I would give all animals blanket protection from greedy humans who hunt and abuse them for profit, perverse sport, or plain cruelty.
I would hand the Filipino people a public transport system that truly works, and the freedom to feel safe in their homes again.
I would love to find a cure for cancer and share it with every man, woman and child who is fighting the disease, and in honor of those who left before I could give it to them.
On a personal front, I would give my mom the blessing of a truly generous and gratitude-filled old age. I want to bring all my dear friends on a fabulous beach/diving holiday in Costa Rica or Rajah Ampat, so we can all laugh, enjoy the world, get buzzed (not drunk) and remember that everything is a gift.
And I would love to extend my dog Kikay’s life span and give her the same time left on earth as I do, so we can eventually cross the Rainbow Bridge together.
Good health for Pope Francis, big hug for retiring colleagues
By Vangie Baga-Reyes
For Pope Francis: I would love to give him good health and more time on earth so that he can continue to extend his full and dedicated service to poor people who are in desperate need of it. He creates happiness wherever he goes. God uses him to bless the world.
For my friends and colleagues who are retiring from Inquirer: I would love to give them a big, big hug for their admirable dedication, loyalty and commitment to the paper. I would love to give them more time or renewed strength and energy to do all the things that they have always wanted to do, but never had time for.
May they walk this path with dignity and pride.
For Pia, the gift of a great meal
By Pam Pastor
I’d like to give Pia Wurtzbach the gift of a great meal, course after course of her favorite dishes, everything she had to give up while preparing to win the Miss Universe crown for the Philippines.
And to everyone I love, full hearts and sound minds for the holidays, the new year and all the years to come.
Stable grounding for Pia, revitalization for Mom
By Alex Vergara
Being surrounded by minders and yes-men can be pretty isolating and stifling. Real life isn’t always about being told what to do and what not to do. Nor is it about always having it your way.
My wish for new Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach as she embarks on her new journey as goodwill ambassador and voice of the youth in 2016 is for her to remain grounded.
If I could, I’d like to give her a handy 365-page glossy calendar featuring lovely images and age-old sayings about the fleeting nature of beauty, youth and glory, which she could take with her during her travels.
I’m not about to scare Pia or make her feel miserable. She has every right to look poised and beautiful 24/7 because they’re part of the job description. But being a public figure with a seemingly glamorous and stage-managed job like Miss Universe has a way of distorting the values and priorities of even the wisest and most sensible woman.
It pays to step back at the beginning and end of each day and say to one’s self that everything that’s happening in this world, er, universe is temporary. Time is ticking by, and each new day is an opportunity to be better.
Hopefully, this reminder would help inspire Pia to work harder and lead her to the right path as she tries to help and motivate others.
For my mother: My father’s passing earlier this year has been pretty hard on all of us, but perhaps more so on her who was so dependent on him.
My mother, a breast cancer survivor, has been suffering from clinical depression for almost 30 years now. Like most people battling such a strange affliction, she has her good days and bad days. As if that isn’t enough, she also developed diabetes and Parkinson’s disease later in life.
Thank goodness for modern medicine, she has been able to break free, at least most of the time, from her inner demons and lead a fairly normal life. But it also has its side effects.
Because of the mind- and mood-altering nature of the cocktail of pills she takes every day, my mother has been reduced into a shell of her once lively and feisty self. You can still engage her in conversation, but the spunk that once made her unique is long gone.
I have no real way of gauging how lonely and affected she is by my father’s death since she seems afloat and disengaged most of the time. But I know deep inside that she’s also hurting.
Despite her condition, I wish she would find meaning in life and know that her children and grandchildren need her. May she be able to finally break free from whatever is bothering her physically and emotionally so she can fully enjoy her sunset years.
May she not stop fussing over her hair because it’s a clear sign that she’s still very much connected to this world. Don’t worry, Ma, I will treat you to a trip to the beauty parlor this Christmas season. After going through so much in life, you deserve to be happy.
Pia, keep texting; P-Noy, a life finally
By Thelma Sioson San Juan
For Pia Wurtzbach: May you fulfill the dream you once told me, to serve as model for women who need to be empowered and overcome domestic abuse. And continue to text us back. That way we know you stay connected to earth. The universe could be a vast, bewildering space where you could get lost and feel empty.
For P-Noy: At the end of your term, may you feel the gratefulness of the Filipino to a leader who worked to stay decent, honest, hardworking and wise, no matter the odds, the temptations and setbacks. And may you finally get a life! A lovelife also, if that’s not wishing too much.
For Pia and P-Noy: May you continue on your safe, fulfilling and exciting journeys—separately!
For the next Philippine president: May you not lose your conscience. And may you keep in mind that we remember the past, both recent (no wang-wang) and distant (martial law), and that the Filipino holds the reins to his future—even through Edsa traffic—so don’t try to make a fool out of him.
Personal wishes: May we continue to see our glass as half-full, instead of half-empty, and may we continue to give back, even as we are burdened ourselves. May we learn compassion even as we enjoy advantage, and may we continue to pray even as we feel powerful and almighty. As journalists, may we raise the level of discourse and thinking, and not be slaves to sound bites. And—may we not believe political surveys all the time.
I also wish my eye bags would stop growing; also, that my forehand would come back.
Graciousness for Miss Colombia, and the gift of youth for our pugs
By Anne A. Jambora
For Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez: A heart, that she may drop the attitude and become a good example to women, because in life, we don’t always get what we want. That instead of committing one embarrassing gaffe after the other, she’ll come to her senses and use this window to launch a career she has always wanted.
For Missy Elliot and Lord Trojan Spike: To our little pudgy pugs, Missy Elliot and Lord Trojan Spike, the gift of youth. Dog parents who have cared for senior pets know this only too well—that time moves forward rather hastily the moment their little button enters his/her golden years.
If I could, I would like to give these 11- and 10-year-olds the gift of sight once more, and for their arthritic spine and paws to heal so that they may begin their life as therapy dogs to children with cancer.
A good support team for the humble man at the Vatican; and books for the brood
By Raoul J. Chee Kee
If I could, I would give Pope Francis a supportive team at the Vatican, one that will aid his efforts to lead the Church into an era of humility, forgiveness and acceptance. From the moment he was elected pope, he has requested for prayers. In fact, the first thing he did when he stepped out on the central balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica was to ask for prayers even before giving his blessing.
I found this odd but strangely comforting. Here is a man who is universally loved, and yet he still needs prayers to continue his work of “shepherding his flock.”
In 2013, he explained to journalists while on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Rome that he had been making this request since he was a bishop. “I feel I have many weaknesses and problems; I am a sinner, too… This request is something that comes from within. It’s something I feel I have to ask.”
Pope Francis’ humility has endeared him even more to those who already love and respect him. So, aside from a team that supports him, I’d also like to pray for his continued strength and fortitude in the new year.
I wish my nephews and niece would eventually develop a love for reading books—real printed books—and not just be glued to their handheld gadgets. I thank my parents for helping me and my brothers develop this love at an early age since we would see them reading all the time. It also helped that our house had stacks and shelves of books.
In grade school, there was always this sense of accomplishment when I would be handed a fresh library card after filling up the last one with a mix of Judy Blume titles and the Dell and Newberry book award winners. There were also older books that smelled musty when you opened them, but how I loved that distinct smell.
Maybe someday, my nephews and niece will come up to me to ask my opinion about this or that author. But until then, they can “look forward” to getting books from me this Christmas and on their birthdays.
An island escape for Steve Harvey, more treats for our dogs
By Cheche V. Moral
For Steve Harvey, an island escape
Given his spectacular gaffe seen by the whole world at the Miss Universe 2015 finals night, he probably doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone remotely “Philippian” or “Columbian” right now. Or ever.
But in the spirit of the season, I’d like to extend him the Filipino brand of forgiveness and welcome him with a round-trip, first-class ticket to our shores, where he could retreat in one of the islands and forget for a moment that he’s likely never going to live down that jaw-dropping moment on TV, and that whatever success he has achieved in his career thus far will now be canceled out by that one unfortunate Vegas gig.
As a people, we’ve forgiven far worse—and of individuals who never showed contrition, much less owned up to their crimes and wrongdoings. What has this guy done but rob our Miss Philippines of her rightful moment in the spotlight, though inadvertently. It’s infuriating, yes, but in the end, Miss Philippines emerged the winner, and that can’t be taken away. We can afford one act of magnanimity.
There are many theories as to what really happened in Vegas—that Harvey had been drinking and gambling and thus missed rehearsals; that it was an orchestrated flub to create buzz for the show, given its low viewership; and that Harvey was paid well to play his part in the ploy, etc.
Those are all guesswork. Fact is, the guy lost no time in righting his wrong, and in front of millions watching, however difficult the task was.
Surely he knew even at that moment that he would pay dearly for his mistake, but he made no excuses. As we say in the vernacular, “Hindi nagbintang at hindi nagpalusot.” That speaks of character.
Of course, the Colombians might understandably feel differently, but, hey, I’m just a Philippian.
Time, loving attention
They still act like rambunctious puppies at mealtime (theirs and ours), but they’re now poor of hearing, their joints creaky, and their vision quickly failing.
In the natural order of things—and it rips my guts to write this—Missy, 11, and Spike, 10, our senior pugs, don’t have as many years left with us. So what could be a better gift to those who love you with such devotion but your time and loving attention? (If they could speak, they’d probably say, “More treats!”)
They can no longer go on plane rides (too stressful, for them and us), but even as we can’t make a repeat of those happy trips to Boracay, Palawan, Baguio and Sagada, our Sunday post-bath ritual of going to BGC or Ayala Triangle Gardens will go on.
It’s the highlight of their week, the dinner in a restaurant and dessert at another. They’re so used to this routine that they have better table manners than some people I know. Waiters adore them; it’s not unusual to receive steak trimmings, extra bread or whatnot at our table.
Of the dog breeds, pugs have some of the most expressive faces. Imagine being at the receiving end of that how-could-you-leave-me face—times two—every day, even if you’re stepping out for only a couple of hours. It’s heartbreaking and incredibly cute at the same time.
It’s those same faces that are excited to greet you at the door every time, whether you’ve been gone a week or an hour. It’s the same faces I miss and stare at on my phone whenever I’m gone for a week or an hour. I’m done missing.
Another visit from the Pope
By Cathy Cañares Yamsuan
I have always had this soft spot for Catholic popes, probably because they exude kindness and mercy. I was so heartbroken when Pope John Paul II left Manila after his January 1995 visit.
So, imagine my irritation when the euphoria of Pope Francis’ visit last January was quickly marred by the infamous Mamasapano massacre. His teaching about mercy and compassion suddenly dissipated, and was replaced by anger and public outrage.
While I wish Pope Francis health and long life, my bigger wish is for the Filipino people to be given another chance to see him. My wish is for us to have another personal encounter with Pope Francis.
I think we benefited greatly from his visit. People felt good just having him around. We were nicer to each other. We were more understanding and less grumpy. We listened to his words and found meaning in his messages. We felt loved. We thought more deeply about stuff. We were ecstatic.
This probably sounds selfish and close to impossible, but I think we need a strong spiritual anchor with unquestionable credibility that would help us discern a deeper and more transcendent mind-set and help us make better choices. Not just about our politics or our place in the world, but more about our families and other people that God has placed in our lives.
Amid the confusion in our daily lives, we need a beacon that would provide the context. We need a credible person to explain to us why. (And God forbid if a reader thinks I want Pope Francis to endorse a candidate. Please.)
Ticket to ride the theater thrill
By Gibbs Cadiz
Gift-giving that aims to pay forward, that motivates the recipient to build on the generosity and kindness shown him or her by spreading the same altruistic spirit—it’s an inspired concept, and one that happened during the just-ended run of Bit by Bit Company’s twin bill production of two acclaimed Filipino plays, “Si Maria Isabella at ang Guryon ng Mga Tala” and “Games People Play,” at Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati.
Without fanfare, a group of showbuyers paid for a batch of tickets that were then given to students, to allow them to watch the plays for free.
With the sponsored ticket came a sweet little note, which deserves to be quoted verbatim: “By taking the time to watch this production, we hope you take away more than just what the show provided. We hope this inspires you to further excel in your given fields. Everyone part of this production were students like you, one time or another, and we hope this experience instills in you the same passion and motivation that catalyzed the birth of these plays… We hope you don’t forget the generosity that was shown to you all today, and we further hope that you pay back that generosity to the future generation of students, when you are able. Merry Christmas!”
A few years ago when I still had my blog, I tried to do the same thing—offer whatever free tickets I could scrounge to readers and students, especially those who had yet to watch a show by Peta, Tanghalang Pilipino, Repertory Philippines, the Virgin Labfest, etc. My hope was that their first-time experience at the theater would not only spark in them an abiding interest in it, but also encourage them to spread the word, to bring in their friends and peers and family, so more people could enjoy the magic our homegrown theater artists created on stage.
But, as happens, in time I couldn’t keep it up—the blog, and the modest ticket-sharing. How heartening to learn, then, that many others are doing the same thing, quietly and cheerfully. My wish is for the tribe of theater-minded souls such as the “Games/Guryon” showbuyers to grow a hundredfold so that, through their goodwill, more young people are encouraged to try watching Filipino theater, and hopefully get them hooked for good.
An even bigger wish is for our much wealthier compatriots—the tycoons, taipans and captains of industry, for instance—to also consider sparing even a fraction of the budgets they spend on, say, big-league basketball teams or private vintage car collections, to supporting the arts, especially local theater, which, for all the international glory it has brought the country, still doesn’t seem to ring in the same “prestige” cache among the Tatler set as, say, the more glamorous visual arts.
What would it take to turn the heads of a Manny Pangilinan, for instance, or an Andrew Tan (who bought Spain’s legendary Fundador brandy for P13.8 billion in cash), or the young Robbie Antonio with a P1-billion museum of paintings of himself, toward the same direction taken by virtual angels like Pioneer Insurance president Lorenzo Chan Jr. who, this year, threw his company’s weight behind the Virgin Labfest; or TonyBoy Cojuangco, who, unknown to many, has been the staunchest patron for years now of Ballet Philippines, Tanghalang Pilipino, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and, until last year, the Cinemalaya Film Festival?
Perhaps a night at a really good show would do it? My other wish, then, is for Filipinos of great means like Mssrs. Pangilinan, Antonio, Tan and others like them to find themselves one evening enjoying a particularly good piece of Filipino theater so much (the upcoming “Les Miserables” obviously doesn’t count—if Peta’s “Rak of Aegis” were still around, it would have made for a smashing intro) that they would vow not only to come back for more, but, more importantly, would pay it forward by helping more Filipinos, the young especially, get the chance to experience the same elation they felt at the theater. The tycoon as a charity showbuyer, for starters—why not?
Comfort for a journalist ‘mom’, and recovery for a favorite aunt
By Constantino C. Tejero
One celebrity I’d like to have my best wishes this Christmas is Inquirer founder Eugenia Duran Apostol.
She was the mother of us all. Known as a lifestyle journalist, she was an unlikely political warrior leading young journalists through the turmoil in the wake of the 1986 Edsa Revolt. She guided the fledgling broadsheet to what it is now. I’d always remember her as a smiling face through the corridors of the various Inquirer offices.
Tita Eggie is now 90 and wheelchair-bound. She can no longer do her favorite strokes in ballroom dancing but she still responds to her surroundings, however minimal.
So, what is there left to wish for her this Christmas but comfort and consolation, human warmth and days without pain, by the grace of God?
My personal wish is for my aunt Tita Francisca. When we were growing up, we had a battery of aunts on both paternal and maternal sides, married, maiden or widowed. They ranged from the motherly to the oversolicitous to the stormtrooper type, each hovering over us like an angel de la guardia.
The aunts imposed old-style religiosity and moral rectitude. Anyone who opposed would be considered libre pensador (freethinker), a label some of us would carry like a badge of courage.
Each time the youngsters had a night out with their respective barkada, the aunts would act like guardians of the gate, keeping watch over all entrances and exits of the house until all the youngster were in. This caused so much friction.
Tita Francisca would stay awake often until past midnight, which would make her grumpy in the morning for lack of sleep.
When we had grown up, all the aunts had turned amiable or simply affectionate. Most have passed away.
Tita Francisca, born during Peacetime and now 79, is among the last of her generation. Five years ago she had a stroke and has been bedridden since. She’s being cared for by a niece and a caregiver, plus a battery of grandkids.
In past Christmases, we’d ask her what she wanted for a gift, and she’d invariably reply she wanted nothing in particular but only good health and blessings for her nephews and nieces. So we’d give her all sorts of gifts, from perfume to face powder to trinkets.
Now she has no use of those, and I can’t think of any. So I just wish for her recovery, even just a bit, so she’d be up and about and maybe use those bedroom slippers I gave her several Christmases ago.
More luck and patience for musicians
By Pocholo Concepcion
I wish all of the country’s musicians—especially those with exceptional talents—more luck and patience as they pursue their respective careers and ambitions here and abroad.
Luck is something that eludes many musicians since it usually happens by chance. It’s not every day that somebody like rock singer Arnel Pineda is given a once-in-a-lifetime break to show his stuff as Journey’s frontman before an international audience.
Closer to home, it’s also out of the ordinary for a rapper like Gloc-9 to rise from the underground and gain mainstream popularity.
But, of course, Pineda and Gloc-9 deserve their success because they worked their asses off like crazy, not minding the long hours, days, weeks, months and years of staying grounded and focused on their art.
That’s what bands like Color It Red, South Border, Side A, AMP and the others have been sticking to as a matter of principle.
And that’s why patience is a virtue that musicians should have plenty of. It takes a certain kind of attitude to remain calm when dealing with a difficult or annoying situation—for instance, a financial situation, since musicians are almost always short of cash.
There’s been a lot of them who had gone through the wringer due to illness, which makes the idea of setting up a national musicians’ union or foundation to handle emergencies an urgent one.
This Christmas, I ask everyone who had a good time listening to the music of Filipino artists to spread some lucky vibes and spend more time (and money) in the bars and clubs.