Thursday, 11 October 2012

FOCUS: Repair your Toilet Tank Day, Scream Your Frustrations Away Day, Pop Your Popcorn Month, and other observances in October


THE MONTH of October compared to other months, seems to be a ho- hum month for festive celebrations. 

Look, in our calendar of National Observances, there is none for October (well, just today, October 10, Pres Aquino declared Oct 27 Eid-ul-Adha, a national holiday, it used to be in November 7), while in November, we have three national holidays: November 1 as All Saints’ Day (Todos los Santos), Eid-ul-Adha or festival of sacrifice among our Muslim brothers on November 7, and Bonifacio Day on November 30. 

As you know, Todos Los Santos is celebrated with a bang hereabouts- weeks before people already streaming to the cemeteries to clean and spruce up the tombs of their beloved.   

On November 1, Jollibee, McDo, KFC, Shakeys and other multinational fast food chains are cheek to jowl with small vendors selling “kwek kwek” and “abnoy”.  

And why not: thousands flock to the cemeteries on this day- who, after praying for the souls of their loved ones, hear their stomachs grumble for pizza, burgers and hotdogs. 

Todos los Santos is not only a festival of candles and flowers of all sorts- it is also a festival of  odors - the scent of burnt candles, scented and unscented, and the smell of  hotdogs being fried, pizzas being baked, adidas and other chicken innards being grilled- all  the odors/scents wafting and commingling in the air that covers the tombs of the dead.  How is that for a Kafkaesque scenario, eh?

Anyway, it’s October observances that I am concerned. There are national observances, though they are not national holidays.

Like United Nations Week. I will always remember this because when I was in elementary and high school, this was a very very busy week for me. I had to represent our school in declamation contests and quiz contests and I had to participate in week long activities in school celebrating this organization’s contributions to “peace and harmony” in the world.  

I remember wracking my brain to come up with something to describe the letters of the United Nations, as we put up the cardboards for each letter on cue: U is for United (we stand, divided we fall?), N is for Never (never again wars and genocides?) I is for I (who have nothing?) ... etc.  

And then there was also a parade of flags, sometimes just inside the school grounds, but more often, around the community where our school was located.  

It felt like Santacruzan in October- people were watching from their windows as we delegates from each grade and section marched behind a marching band. 

Masaya!  Flags waving in the air as well as us waving our hands as we pass by our own houses (Nay, Tay, dito kami!), and our friends ’- (Hoy Boying, dumungaw ka sa bintana dito na ang parada!).  

Then, there is also a week in October honoring our senior citizens. This is from October 1-7.   

On this week, the spotlight is on the elderly, and various activities are usually lined up on this week: beauty contests (among lolas), singing and dance contests, parade of lolas and lolos, etc. 

Government offices compete with each other in honoring outstanding senior citizens, and benefit packages, such as health insurance, discounts in stores, etc are laid out on this week.  

Years ago, we had a study on senior citizens, and as many studies before us had shown, they are not a dependent lot.
In half of the families where senior citizens reside, household expenses are shared by them, and even in a third of these households, the head is a senior citizen. Yes, sir, Filipino seniors are productive citizens of the country!

So, aside from these two important occasions, celebrations in October still pale compared with other months of the year.   

So, I asked myself how people of other countries, especially in our second  home - the US of A, celebrate October.  
So I searched the web, and found this blogspot ( where a list of  observances and national celebrations are posted, and according to the blogster - the list has been validated, which means  an observance is valid if it is one of these  things: declared a national observance by government, by tradition or by a recognized group/minority, or if initiated by an individual, there is a website dedicated to it and  authentic listing of those who observe this celebration is available.   

Looking at this list, I am just so happy that the list  includes celebrations of activities that strike near  home, and reflect the contemporary  global village citizens’ concerns in modern day life. I note here some of those celebrations:

1. Scream Your Frustrations Away Day.  October 12. YES. We need to celebrate this occasion. Right now, I am a screaming banshee. Look, my dogs have ripped off, tore to pieces the papers on top of my working table while I was away. I have told them countless times not to mess with my stuff, and they will meekly follow me. 

Until of course, I leave the house for long hours, and frustrated as they are in  my not coming home earlier, they jump onto my table and gleefully mess up my stuff. 

Of course, when I enter the door, they are all eyeing me meekly from their sofa, when I ask them angrily who did this stuff? Each one turning his head and asking his neighbour- who me/ is she talking to me?  
I am also so frustrated with myself for always forgetting to clean up my table before I leave, to put the chairs under the table so they cannot use it as jumping board to  the table. I am frustrated with myself actually, and   second only with my dogs for not remembering what I told them, and for not being smarter than me.

2. Evaluate your life day. October 19. This comes in the heels of World Menopause Day-Oct.18. Now, only a woman-hating dude  could have made these occasions  come one after the other.  Read the fine print: you remember you  are menopausal - then the next day,  you have to evaluate your life? Why? Is menopause life changing?  

That,  pre-menopause , I was this person, and after menopause, I am this different person?  

Menopause came to my life surreptitiously. I did not feel the media-reported hot flushes, irritability nor insomnia. Nothing. I was the same person pre and post menopause.  

So, I guess, let’s just do away with this observance, but keep Evaluate your life Day in our calendar. With all the activities we subscribe to, and the situations others create that we find ourselves entangled with, we usually do not  have time, at the end of the day, to evaluate what we have done, should have done, should not have done. 

One day in October, we need to look back at our footprints and handmarks on the landscape of life. Yes, keep this day.

3. National Knock Knock Joke Day.  October 31. Oh, but this is passé  here in PH ! Let’s have a National Pick Up Day instead! Kuto ka ba? Bakit? Ang sarap mong tirisin! Alarm clock ka ba? Bakit? Ang sarap mong patayin! Motorsiklo ka ba? Bakit? Ang sarap mong tadyakan!. Yes, all these, I want to do to all the trapos   ( traditional politicians)   out there!

4. National Toilet Tank Repair Month. Big deal in the US of A. Toilets do really figure much in their lives, don’t they? I lived  in the states for a number of years. And yes, I could do so many things in the toilet: read books, magazines, write down notes, make my assignments .... the works!

But really, a month long celebration to remind people to repair their toilet tanks!. Back here,  I have a toilet tank in one of the rooms that needs repairing. It is broken, and as it stands now, it has wires all over it to keep it from falling apart.  

My nephews would also play with the flush (they like to hear the gargling water sound) so there is too much waste of water, so I had the flush removed.  

We make do with buhos-buhos, because it saves water. This reminds me to change the toilet altogether with the buhos type.       

Not relevant to PH I guess. Better, let’s have a Give a Toilet to each Household Day, so we can get rid of flying saucers (only PH people would know what this means!).  

5. National Popcorn Poppin Month. I love popcorns, ever since I was small.  Going to church on Sundays was a much awaited event in my young life because on Sunday, there is that popcorn man with his glass-encased cart (with ilaw at night!) that churns out cotton candies and popcorn, waiting at the church’s outside  gates.   

Popcorn and movies also go together in my life. Buttered, slightly salted.   

I love the sound of moviegoers all together popping popcorns at the start of the movies, and the sound of crunching competing with the sound’s soundtrack. Well, sometimes if  one is lucky,  as I was ,  one may  hear  incessant coughing,  as one over enthusiastic lad popped more than a mouthful, and choked. 

After nahimasmasan, his parents loudly scolded him, for everybody to hear: ang takaw mo kasi!  Laughter. And on with the  movie, and ... popcorn poppin!  I definitely would endorse this observance. 

Now, I have something to look forward to in celebration of coming Octobers.  

It will not be drab October, wala lang October anymore, as I wait for outlandish November and, yes! Joyous December!

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