Kids share their ‘pandemic’ holiday views

THE kids and their parateacher from Bongbongan Elementary School, Hamtic, Antique. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MIKAELA KRISTINA ACIDO-MUEGA

Young people have their own reflections on the Christmas season.

We take stock of the good things that we have done, and resolve to make better the ones that need improvement.

This is most important during this time when our lives have been disrupted by Covid-19. We had to deal with major adjustments brought about by quarantine restrictions and online classes. This included our celebration of Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.

Metro Manila residents were confined to their homes. We would have wanted, of course, to go to other places and visit friends and relatives. We also missed school, our peers, teachers and Christmas parties.

Yet our thoughts about Christmas remained focused on human relationships and on strengthening them.

But how did other young people in the provinces celebrate Christmas? What were their thoughts about Christmas during this time of the pandemic?

We kept track of students from Bongbongan Elementary School, a public school in Barangay Bongbongan, Hamtic, Antique, in Western Visayas. We received permission from these kids and their parents to have their responses and pictures in this article.

We also got the perspectives of their parateacher and a volunteer from Tarambid Antique (a non-profit group supporting students in mountain schools in Antique). The parateacher helped get responses from the children: What did they think about Christmas during the pandemic and what are their wishes for 2021?

Young children’s quarantined Christmas

The students from the province of Antique — Rhazel Jeruta (Grade 6), Dovy Jeruta (Grade 5), Daniel Quilantang (Grade 2), Sophie Salinas (Grade 2), Eron Marcalinas (Grade 3) and Rona Marcalinas

— agreed that Christmas this time was sad since they weren’t allowed to go outside their homes. Almost all of them said it was unfortunate that they didn’t receive gifts and didn’t have a Noche Buena feast.

Salinas pointed out how sad she felt without a Christmas party and the traditional exchange of gifts in school. This was also the reply of Marcalinas who also wished they had a Christmas party in school.

Only Quilantang said that they had some food for Noche Buena even if there was a pandemic.

The parateacher, Malou Belarmino, said she was both nostalgic and happy since she could be with her family, but she found the atmosphere to be too somber, and that there were no children roaming around carrying gifts during Christmastime.

Bringing the party closer

Jasmin Rose Napuli, a volunteer for Tarambid Antique, said that “instead of organizing a Christmas party in school, they had one near the homes of the students.”

She added that “the parents were much more involved

— they cooked, brought out their own serving dishes, prepared the venue and made sure the students looked their best.”

Napuli, although a volunteer, also had her own thoughts about Christmas during the pandemic. She said, “To witness and be involved in the bayanihan in these small mountain communities was heartwarming for us volunteers.”

Hopeful wishes for a kinder year

All the children, as well as their parateacher, Belarmino, and the volunteer, Napuli, wished for a kinder and healthier new year. They hoped there would no longer be a pandemic come New Year, and that everything would return to normal.

Eron Marcalinas wished there would be no more Covid-19 in 2021 so he could visit places.

That there would be a Christmas party and an exchange of gifts in her school next year was Salina’s wish. Jeruta expressed what many children want to say: For the pandemic to end so that the young ones can be happier.

Grownups’ wishes for children

Belarmino wished for everything to be back to normal and that there would be double happiness in 2021, especially for the children.

Napuli hoped for “more volunteers to help teach elementary students who struggle with writing alphabets, reading and math,” and that “more people would support their feeding program as they start another unpredictable New Year.”

Our thoughts about Christmas during this pandemic may not have been different. Wherever we may be quarantined, here or elsewhere, we all want 2021 to be a better year for all.

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