SNIPPETS OF LIFE IN SYDNEY: A great and challenging year – globally and personally

SYDNEY, Australia (MindaNews/06 January) — At the end of each year, we all tend to reflect about the year that was. So much has happened this year, disasters and deaths, a royal wedding, the withdrawal of US military mission in Iraq and a new agreement to tackle global warming signed by the international community.

2011 indeed has been a great and challenging year — globally and personally.

The first week of January this year was spent in Fiji. Just as everywhere we (Trincheras, Acabado, and the Pasias) went, rain followed us there, too.

Queensland was devastated by flashfloods in January,  affecting more than 250,000, followed by heavy rains triggering mudslides and floods in Rio de Janeiro which killed 665 people and displacing 14,000. In February, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned after thousand demonstrated against his administration. A popular uprising started in Libya against Colonel Moammar Gaddafi refusing to resign. He was killed later, leaving Libya at a crossroads. On the 22nd a 6.3 earthquake shook Christchurch where 155 people were killed and buildings were destroyed. In March, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, triggered a tsunami killing thousands and damaging the Fukushima nuclear reactor power plants. In May, the most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. In October EU leaders agreed to a plan to help solve Greece’s debt problem and strengthen EU banks.

Steve Jobs, Christopher Hitchens and prominent Czech leader Vaclav Havel and many others died this year. The cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan were devastated by flashfloods a few days before Christmas.

Personally — in May, Marion Geraldine was added to the family. I now have four nieces. In July, I joined the South Asia Team as South Asia Program Coordinator, responsible for Bangladesh, India and Nepal. In November, I visited our Nepal programs for the first time. It was a great learning experience for me which also provided an opportunity to view Mt. Everest and the Himalayan Ranges for the first time. In an amazing plane ride, the whiteness of the clouds and snow was a good excuse for becoming teary eyed after realizing God’s magnificence in the wonders of nature.

December marked two birthdays– my sister Chie’s and Noellin’s, and the fifth Speech Day. Christmas has come and gone and New Year is fast approaching, but most of the people I spoke to said that they did not feel the spirit of Christmas at all. Christmas carols in malls, houses are not lit up with Christmas lights unlike previous years, there are a few cars with red noses and antlers. This makes me nostalgic about Christmases spent in the Philippines where streets, buildings and houses are well-lit and invitations to parties and gatherings are received almost everyday. Then there are the voices of children going from house to house singing Christmas songs.

We started asking ourselves where is the Christmas spirit? Have we lost it because of what is happening around the world? Is it because we have grown old and Christmas is only for children? A friend puts it this way: “We need to return to the original meaning and setting of Christmas: a small family, dislocated by an empire. In this pared down version of Christmas, we find its essence.”

What lies ahead for us in 2012? Rep Porchz, a Facebook friend said, referring to the Philippines’ situation: “Given more uncertainties to come, continued political instability and aggressiveness of the government at the wrong time at the wrong place and at the wrong of everything, I expect 2012 would be far worse than 2011. It is time to panic!”

I, on the other hand, would dare to dream that 2012 is going to be a better year… filled with hope that love, joy, peace and justice may reign in our hearts so that we all can live with dignity.

By the way, Sydney’s New Year’s Eve theme is: “Time to Dream.”

Happy New Year everyone! Maligaya at Manigong Bagong Taon sa ating lahat! Malipayong Bag-ong Tuig sa atong tanan!  (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries.  Eleanor Trinchera of Kidapawan City is now based in Sydney)