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Hope in a word

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 12, 2021 5:00 am

On the first day of 2021, I shared through this column the responses of various personalities and luminaries to this question: “Which one word captures your hopes for 2021?”

Their responses were succint, and I was happily amazed that no two personalities gave the same answer. Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez answered, “Vaccines.” Pilipinas Shell president Cesar Romero replied, “Recovery.” Lawyer Albert Arcilla, president and CEO of Volvo Philippines, said, “Victory.”

PLDT SVP Chaye Cabal Revilla replied, “Sustainability.” Concepcion Durables president Ton Concepcion said, “Gratitude.” COVID-19 survivor Chuchi Villar responded, “Equanimity. And last but not the least, Fr. Joy Tajonera, founder of the Filipino migrant haven Ugnayan Taiwan, answered, “Love.”

Words can heal, words can kill. But today, I choose to dwell on words that heal. Especially one word, HOPE.

I decided to make a play on words, on a word rather, inspired by an exercise given by Fr. Francis Alvarez SJ during his homily to our Assumption batch’s Christmas Mass. He asked us to express in a word what we thought God’s message for us would be for 2021.

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Indeed, there is power in one word. A collection of letters strung together can have the force of a nuclear bomb and the softness of a rose petal. In addition, words cobbled together can either uplift us or tear us down. A string of potent words can make people rise from the ashes of despair — or surge angrily in an uprising. We saw how words led to the unprecedented storming of the US Capitol, a black mark in that country’s record of being a bastion of democracy.

Words can heal, words can kill. But today, I choose to dwell on words that heal. Especially one word, HOPE.

Distilling hope into one word is possible. And powerful. Hope will get us through the seasons of our lives, the springs and the summers, and the winters of despair.

Here are more one-word expressions of hope, and surprisingly, no one gave the same answer.

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Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Trade & Industry

REBUILD: Rising from the pandemic, our hope is to recover in 2021 and  REBUILD — REvitalizing BUsinesses Investments Livelihood and Domestic Demand.  This is our campaign and it is backed up by a set of policies and programs that will boost growth in consumption, trade and investment reforms and promotion, expansion into more innovative and smart manufacturing, digitalization, creative industries, upskilling and reskilling of human resources, R and D and productivity enhancement measures.

Karen Davila, TV news anchor & talk show host

TRANSFORMATION. We cannot come into 2021 as the same people. The year 2020 changed us and the way we live entirely. It has humbled us and opened our eyes to what truly matters. But if we do not take to heart the lessons of 2020, then it will all have gone to waste. The new year 2021, for me, is a year of transformation. Transformation of the inner man. The spiritual self. We need to come in reborn in our mental, emotional and spiritual core. 

Dr. Regina Berba, head of Hospital Infection Control Unit, PGH

 OPPORTUNITY: For 2021, my hope for our country is to have and use the opportunities to reshape and refine our pandemic response, get back on track and make living better for each other; I pray that we will still have and not waste the opportunity to be unified, move with one purpose — to create a promising future when our children can safely go back to school and play outdoors; and more than ever before,  I hope we will never miss, and in fact always find the opportunity to constantly whisper “Thank you!”

Pops Fernandez, ‘Concert Queen’

SAFETY: The world is going through challenges, from health to nature and much, much more. But we have also realized what is most important and what we should really be grateful for... is the chance to wake up and breathe every morning. We have learned (hopefully) how to value  every minute of our lives...let us keep ourselves safe and healthy.

 Marilen Sandejas Yaptangco, president & CEO, Baron Travel Corp.

GRATEFUL: Because despite a heartbreaking 2020, we are still blessed in many meaningful ways. God is always in charge.

Brandel Manalastas, pastor, Victory

PROVIDENCE: This speaks about God’s foresight and ability to see ahead. This does not only speak of His ability to see ahead as God but along with it, His love and care as a Heavenly Father. To trust His providence is to trust His ability and faithfulness. It can be tempting to try to control how 2021 should be for us, but it is only God who has the ability to see and govern how it would be.

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So, what’s in a word?

Everything.