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Thanksgiving amid adversities

Thanksgiving, advisedly a borrowed tradition from the United States which introduced this in 1898, continues to make its mark in the Philippines.

During the American period (1901-1935), the Philippines, being an American colony and part of the territory of the United States, celebrated the holiday every year, also in November, with American governors-general issuing proclamations declaring Thanksgiving a holiday celebrated by Filipinos nationwide.

On May 6, 1943, during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, a ceremony was held at the Luneta “in thanksgiving to the great Japanese empire.” But the Americans and Filipinos continued to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in secret.

From 1944 to 1965, Thanksgiving Day tradition was continued as a special public holiday in November until the celebration was moved to September in 1972 following the declaration of martial law. But the tradition ceased, at least in official ceremonies, after the 1986 Catholic Church-backed EDSA Revolution.

There have been similar markers for the term thanksgiving in the Philippines' various regions—for instance, pagpasalamat among Cebuanos, pasasalamat among Tagalogs, and panagyaman among northerners—which are seen in the manner they celebrate their festivals which include, but not limited to, the harvest season, reunions and homecomings as well as promotions and graduations.

But the essence of a Thanksgiving is often lost, amid the sounds of spoons, forks and knives on the table for luxuriant food, and gratitude to the Almighty for the gifts given to him in life.

And what need is there to be thankful for in face of adversities that challenge the Filipinos in the different sectors of life: continuing poverty, corruption, lack of compassion, low wages while others have hefty take-home envelopes, illegal mining, coastal erosion, dynamite fishing, pollution, among others.

But it is in the nature of these adversities that the best in the Filipino is brought out, his abilities developed and his path of prosperity and progress pointedly paved.

Some have said, and we endorse the observation, that while adversities can be a struggle, they can also autograph triumph. They can knock down but they can also build up. Adversities can be a true test of mental strength, with those overcoming adversities learning consequential lessons in life.

Adversities can then be a proper plate—not for turkeys or any other meat—for thanksgiving: they build character, create resilience, draw out the Filipinos' true strengths, and mold behavior for the future.

Topics: Hideki Tojo , Thanksgiving Day , EDSA Revolution , Adversities

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