I. Dusted them down
It has been a tradition in Cordi-Bel to celebrate the New Year’s eve as a community ever since its formation. Our decors became collections of the yearly new year’s occasion as we always tried to salvage whatever could be saved and recycled on to the next. So, it was our practice to pack the salvaged decors and store them in a safe place. This time when we put out our decors, we discovered that the cartons were covered with thick dust and cobwebs. Since we packed up our decorations after celebrating the New Year in 2020 and kept them untouched for two years, we needed to dust them down.
II. Reasons to Celebrate
“Thanks, we are still alive!” is the very first thing to think of. And yes, indeed! We must celebrate and we are going to do it in the way of the living because we are alive.
To think of what had happened during the past two years, millions of lives have perished because of this Covid pandemic. We suddenly lost family members, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. This Covid pandemic has impacted a lot of us who are alive. May we not quickly forget but to continue to live a life anchored only to the basics until down to the way we sort our garbage. May we always remember that in one way or another each one of us was forced to have a fresh outlook and care for Mother Nature.
May those who passed away due to this Covid pandemic find rest and peace in the bosom of our Lord.
III. Message and Messages
The messages are a mixture of joy and sadness, light and darkness but as long as we are alive, let us hold on to the message of hope and joy to prevail with our faith. Each one is invited to draw a message that may enhance or enrich his/her outlook of life in his/her daily existence.
Speaking of messages, we received an email message from Lakay Cesar in the Netherlands while our program was going on, so it was immediately inserted and was read by one of our Cordi-Bel members. Please allow me to copy paste here the entire email message:
Dear CordiBel, Kakailians and Friends,
Wishing you a happy New Year eve event. May it be full of love, life and laughter, music and gangsa sounds all of which will give shape, color and hope for 2023! It is remarkable for you to have sustained your unity and your vision/mission through the years.
Celebrate the historic role CordiBel played in hosting the first Europe Wide Consultation of Cordillerans (ACPE, April 2002) and in sustaining its growth into what is now ICBE. Through the years, CordiBel developed positive and fruitful relationships with Filipino and Belgium organizations for migrant rights, mutual help and solidarity relations. CordiBel graciously hosted Philippine campaigners for IP (Indigenous Peoples) rights and for justice and peace. CordiBel provided sound, color and beauty to Filipino and Belgian cultural events. CordiBel shared its insights/experiences and cultural knowledge and skills with others.
May your New Year celebration unleash energy to pursue with confidence your vision/mission in 2023.
Wishing you all good health and an abundant life and the blessings of God/Kabunian.
Agbiag, Mabuhay CordiBel!
31 December 2022
IV. A New Year Unlike the Previous Years
This 2023 New Year’s celebration was a great occasion since we met old friends and new ones as well as members together without limitations and distantiations. Some older friends of Cordi-Bel came from Gent in the person of Arthur and partner. We have Filipino nurses working in Germany who came over to celebrate with us. There were also other new faces as they just moved into Brussels but of Igorot origins. This family made efforts to look for the Igorot group or BIBAK until they finally contacted a member of Cordi-Bel.
All throughout the occasion, I observed that there was a mutual joy between the guests and the Cordi-Bel people. With this sort of “retrouvailles”, it is evident that most of us enjoyed, some got overjoyed and still others shed tears of joy.
After the New Year’s exchanges of good wishes over a glass of sparkling wine, those with children said, “bye-bye”. They have to go home with their tired and sleepy children. Those who have no young children or no children to worry about stayed behind. They continued the party with limitless singing, drinking, eating and merry-making. Some even got to the point of overdoing it. At any rate, there were no big troubles to cause worries, only some unworthy talking and misbehaving. With the two years of deprivation, clearly this new year seems incomparable to any previous new years.
V. Some Heard, Overheard, and Whispered Reactions
I asked the visitors how they found the celebration. They answered me, “It was enjoyable”, “I am very happy to have met kakailians and made new friends.” “It was a good chance for me to visit Brussels and experience a bit of nightlife in the city.” etcetera etcetera and what I usually called, “unspellable reactions”.
During and even before the occasion, when I walked around the corridor passing by a group of children, teens and adults as well, I overheard the following, “Oh, how nice to see you,” “It's been so long time”, “You look great”, “I am so sorry to hear the bad news from your family”, and many inaudible, incomprehensible giggles and loud noises.
Someone came to me and whispered, “Brod, we are so many after all. We are so crowded in our small hall”. Jokingly, I answered the person, “Never mind, there are no more limitations nor social distancing. We can get as close as we can to each other without fear and reproach”.
For me personally, if anyone asks me what is my opinion on the celebration, my answer is so simple, “All of the above”!
About the Author
is half-Benguet and half-Bontok, and belongs to the Kankana-ey ethnolinguistic of the Cordillera. He lives in Brussels with his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Marivonne.