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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 8, 2018
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

On Fire and Ice

Ninfa Leonardia Why have the last days of 2017 and the first days of 2018 been plagued by so many devastating occurrences of deaths and injuries caused by fire in some countries, and snow in others? We see scenes of lakes, fountains, and the great Niagara Falls frozen abroad. In our country, we recently got shocked by big, big fires that killed several people, most of them young ones. There were the fires in a Davao City call center building, and lately the big fire in the Cebu Ayala Mall that is still continuing after several days. What could be the message in this?

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One of my favorite poets in school was Robert Frost, who had the very rare gift of using the simplest words and the shortest verses in the most fascinating way that made them stick to your mind. Until now, I can still recite from memory his poem that he titled “Fire and Ice”, which now seems to be very prophetic. I'm sure many other lovers of poetry remember this, but, just for the pleasure of quoting it, I am citing its beautiful words and rhythm: “Some say the world will end in fire/ Some say in ice/ From what I've tasted of desire/ I hold with those who favor fire/ But if I had to perish twice/ I think I know enough of hate/ To say that for destruction ice/ Is also great/ And would suffice.”

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Doesn't that sound like a precursor of what is happening in the world now? I am sure many will agree that it is a fascinating and enticing bit of verse, as only Robert Frost, the master lyricist could think up. As a student, I often prayed to have a bit of his talent, but, alas, all I could manage were humorous little jingles that got published in our school organ, “The Ripples”. I think I became a bit famous in school when my “masterpiece” that I called “Owed to Algebra” got published, because so many of my schoolmates hated the subject as much as I did. And to thumb her nose at us, my sister Perla got Mathematics as her major subject!

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Meanwhile, Saturday was the Feast of the Epiphany, or the commemoration of the visit of the Three Kings to the Child Jesus. Illustrations, especially in paintings, of that visit showed the three royal heads of their countries bringing gifts to the Child, still lying in a manger at a lowly stable. Counting the days, it would seem that the kings came about two weeks after the birth of the Heavenly Child, so it must have taken them that long to travel on their camels to Bethlehem, even if they had a heavenly star to guide them. But they were also the ones who started the tradition of giving gifts on Christmas.

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And that is not the only practice that they should have left and encouraged in this later generation. Remember that the Three Kings did not all belong to one race. Remember the Christmas Song about them that said: “One was black, and one was brown, And one was white with a golden crown…” Doesn't that show that there wasn't any such thing as racial discrimination among them then? That is surely one example that the later generations didn't catch on.

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What can we say about the leaders of today? There are now very few kings and queens in the world, but many of them do not get along, and not all of them worship the same God. In fact, some of them are fighting and the cause is their religion. And if it is not religion, it is politics. Today, the world is closely watching developments in the United States, whose people are finding themselves like the frogs who asked for a king and got a stork who could gobble them up. The latest is that a book has been written that is predicted to bring the downfall of Donald Trump.

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The book, according to a Reuters report, titled “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, compares Trump to the emperor in the story book tale who got deceived into thinking he was garbed for the position, when he was, in fact, naked. It harshly claims that Trump is not fit to be president and predicts his downfall. The book's release was announced to be Tuesday, but when attempts were made to stop it, it was released ahead, on Friday. And despite the bitter cold in Washington, people lined up at midnight to get their copies.

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I can just imagine the furor going on Quiapo as the feast of the Black Nazarene, its patron saint is nearing. Millions of devotees will again fill the streets tomorrow, not only of Quiapo, but all the other areas that the traditional procession will pass. I have not participated in it, but watched it once from the house of a friend who lived in the center of the district and it was a most awe-inspiring sight of humanity, unmindful of the crowds and heat, most of them unshod, and seeing the fervent faith wrought on their faces. I know that millions more will be participating, even if only via television, all over the country. Because the ritual is not for the weak and the elderly, who can only rely on their faith to benefit from it.*

 

 

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