Christmas is in the air. There is an overflowing joy in the hearts of every Kagayanon. It’s a different kind of aura which we had not felt last year after we were strongly hit by Sendong.
The jingle bells were already audible since November as Ayala Centrio opened its doors to Cagayan de Oro. Since then, Centrio and all malls have been full of shoppers carrying paper bags of different brands contrary to last year when there was a significant decrease of mall goers. Restaurants are fully booked with families and friends reunited unlike last year when some restos and coffee shops were even forced to close because there was no supply of water. Movie houses have been having long lines of excited movie goers. Traffic has become more exaggerated as more and more people from CDO and neighboring towns and provinces visit the city for fun, shopping, and pleasure.
On the other hand, bus terminals from East to West Bound, airports, and seaports have been all very busy with travellers coming in and out of CDO. I personally saw last December 22 how worst Agora Bus Terminal can be. The line of people was endless, so eager and excited to go home. Some even resorted of going through the bus window just to get a seat. I also got the chance to visit Lumbia Airport for the first time at night to fetch my friend’s brother. And I was so surprised to see the number of cars at the parking lot at around nine in the evening. It was heart warming to see lots of people, shouting, rejoicing, and hugging each other as they’re reunited with their loved ones.
Of course, Christmas in the Philippines isn’t complete without Misa de Galo. My alarm clock did not work on December 16. Instead, I started on the second day mass and I thought I was early because I went to the church at around 3:30. Much to my surprise, like a box office hit, it was already standing position. The attendance this year is obviously bigger. I remember the second day last year, there were less people attended the mass as majority of CDO was still in the pit of darkness, overwhelmed by the Sendong aftermath.
Christmas parties in CDO this year are noisier, livelier, and more abundant. Kids and kids at heart could not stop dancing the Youtube sensation Gangnam Style. I hate to say this but karaoke is everywhere with “Pusong Bato” as the national anthem. Facebook has been bombarded with different posts highlighting the rich gastronomic culture of each Kagayanon’s home. Food is more fun when it is home made. Christmas trees of different designs are made more colorful with different gifts of different shapes and sizes.
Lastly, I saw the most touching picture of Kagayanon Christmas this year as TV Patrol Northern Mindanao featured the Sendong survivors celebrating Christmas. They were deprived to celebrate the holidays last year as they were busy retrieving, restoring, repairing, and renewing their lives after losing their properties or worst their loved ones due to Typhoon Sendong. The Rosalem Family who had nothing but dirt and mud last year were all busy preparing for their Noche Buena. The same goes to the family of Jacinta Cabana whose family really prepared for a celebration this year, complete from decoration to the food preparation.
All of these are pieces of puzzle that have formed a better picture of yuletide season for Kagayanons. It’s totally different from the one we had seen and experience last 2011. After the heartbreaking Sendong that ruined Cagayan de Oro, this city has proven its resiliency that it could stand and back to its feet again after being torn by one great typhoon. Indeed, our Christmas has become bigger, heavier, livelier, and happier. It’s a merrier Christmas for the city in bloom, blossom, and in boom. Cheers to all Kagayanons here and abroad!