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Home for Christmas

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Dec 25, 2020 5:00 am

Little stars in the darkness before dawn. That’s how modern parols started out — as paper star lanterns used by barrio folk to illuminate their paths to Simbang Gabi before sunrise. In this photograph by Filipino fashion designer Lesley Mobo, the parols that adorn the beautiful bahay kubo of his tropical terno-clad muse serves not only as decoration but also as guiding lights for the loved ones returning home. A proverbial Star of Bethlehem, whatever your faith may be.

While the Filipino Christmas is a combination of Western and Eastern traditions and influences, there’s no Christmas tree or Santa Claus in sight.

This year, there are no big parties. No faraway exotic getaways. The capitalist, Hallmark holiday accouterments of Christmas have been canceled by the pandemic and all we’re left with is each other.

And that’s what really matters.

This year, there are no big parties. No faraway exotic getaways. The capitalist, Hallmark holiday accouterments of Christmas have been canceled by the pandemic and all we’re left with is each other.

Mobo’s photograph is taken in his hometown village in Nabas, Aklan, where he’s “stranded” in paradise after being based in London for 21 years.

“2020 has been a tough year for everyone and Christmas might be different this year for all of us. But it can be a time for reflection and connection to a much more meaningful one,” the designer writes via Instagram Direct Message, perhaps describing his personal experience of rediscovering his birthplace, too.

“This is the season for all of us to pause and just be grateful. A quiet time to connect and a time with loved ones. Going back to our roots and bringing back old traditions and beginning again. Create new ones that bring a true sense of joy and happiness, hope, and fresh beginnings. In essence, to try to live the meaning behind the season, whatever your spiritual beliefs.”

I am not quite up to raising a toast to surviving 2020 when we are still facing a pandemic. Lives have been lost, industries decimated, dreams shattered.

On the other hand, we cannot give up hope. Hope is as integral to the human condition as despair. And we’re going to need all the hope we can muster to build and begin again.

In the remaining days of a very difficult year, we hope this photograph reminds you of a moment of beauty and makes you smile — like a colorful lit parol for whoever needs light, whether it’s a crack of brightness for the gloom inside, or a bright light to see what lies ahead. Merry Christmas!