New year with Camomot

By Editorial December 31,2017

From anecdotal evidence it seems this year’s Philippine Christmas and New Year celebrations were the quietest in recent memory with relatively muted firecracker noise.

This is a welcome sign of citizen maturation even with reports about persons who sustained fireworks-related injuries that no one covets as well as the dwindling of the cottage pyrotechnics businesses as in Bulacan province.

The Philippine government, resolute in cracking down on firecrackers and designating sites where people can set them off, can also be enterprising in rationalizing the pyrotechnics industry.

Those who cannot be responsible traders may be directed to alternative livelihoods so that only manufacturers and vendors open to safer and more scientific handling of pyrotechnics as on the Sydney Harbour Bridge may be allowed to operate.

Christmas, when Christians celebrate and proclaim the full sharing of God in humanity’s lot and the New Year that counts time since Jesus Christ’s birth ought to be occasions of — aside from joyful reunions of kith and kin — silent reflection and simplicity.

Filipinos can look to a Cebuano, the late Archbishop Teofilo Camomot (1914-1988) as a model of this silence and simplicity not only for Christmas and the related Feast of the Santo Niño but throughout the year.

The reflective silence of the native of Carcar City can be gleaned in the petition for his canonization. The text underlines his life of “constant prayer” that to paraphrase Saint Teresa of Calcutta is the fruit of silence.

Archbishop Camomot’s prayerfulness in turn culminated in the virtue of simplicity and in a “generous love for the poor and the needy.”

Most iconic of the stories from the prelate’s life was the loss of his pectoral cross, later discovered to have been pawned by him so he could financially assist the needy.

According to priest Mhar Vincent Balili who is writing the document for the Roman stage of the late archbishop’s canonization cause, the bishop’s cross was just one of the many belongings he gave away in a ministry of perpetual succor.

Devotees will venerate Archbishop Camomot’s relics when they are exhumed for a traslacion in Carcar City on January 3 and 4. A reliable measure of that devotion would be the extent to which we Filipinos simplify the form (fireworks, buntings and all), and enrich the substance — compassion and sharing, selflessness and service — of our festivities and ordinary days.

Such hallmarks of solidarity are needed in this new year when realities from the last remain with us — almost 22 million Filipinos living below the poverty line and at least five million without jobs amid projections of pricier commodities that go with tax reforms.

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