AS I SEE IT: Santa Claus came…the spirit of Christmas continues, Welcome 2023!

Despite all the problems in the world that’s affecting us, we celebrated Christmas on December 25 with my family, friends, and relatives, as if nothing was happening around us even with the Sword of Damocles was hanging above our heads caused by inflation, lay-offs, the tridemics, and even the Russia-Ukraine war which may escalate worldwide… anytime!

So, this was time of the year, aside from family reunion, social gatherings, and bonding together, that we reflected on one thing: What does Christmas meant to me, to us?

Well, Christmas come and go, but before it goes, we need to enjoy it and give meaning to it, regardless of the situation! That’s what we did!

As a tradition worldwide, Christmas, is the time for people to rejoice, have fun, bond together, reunite, and enjoy each other’s company whatever happens. So, despite the resurging corona virus pandemic, the emerging influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus RSV for children, the spirit of Christmas must go on anywhere, everywhere…Let not these tridemics spoil our Christmas spirit! In our case it didn’t!

The triple threat of COVID-19, influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was hitting our communities hard. RSV rates continue to climb in Southern California, and we still are battling with COVID-19.

Masking, social distancing and good hand hygiene reduced the number of flu and other respiratory virus infections during the first two years of the pandemic. “Now, with relaxation of recommendations surrounding masking and social distancing, people are again at risk for acquiring these viral infections, and a major concern is lack of immunity because of low exposure in the last two years,” explained Vijay Trisal, M.D., chief medical officer and Dr. Norman & Melinda Payson, Professor in Medicine at City of Hope.

“All three – influenza, RSV and COVID-19 – are particularly worrisome because they can cause severe illness in patients undergoing chemotherapy, those who have received stem cell transplants and other immunocompromised patients,” Trisal adds. While these are rampant in California, they can always settle anywhere.

Let us be reminded that each illness is different.  COVID-19 spreads through the air. To be safe, we still need to wear a mask in public spaces, especially indoors. Stay up to date on vaccine boosters and encourage others to have them.

For flu, get the flu vaccine. Initial signs indicated that this year’s flu vaccine is working well to keep people out of the hospital. Wear a mask — like COVID-19, flu is most often spread through droplets in the air and close contact.

And, for RSVwhich is spread more often from surfaces than in the air, we need to wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitizer after being in public spaces and washrooms.

For me, it was time for my family to be together and rejoice as one big family. My wife Delia and I have six children and we have been missing most of them for the past months because they live away from us.

This year, on Christmas day, three of my children who live away from us spent their Christmas with us. Tweety and his husband Jonathan, with their 2-year-and-6-month-old daughter Hawaiian-born Ellie from South Carolina arrived one week before Christmas. Paul, our youngest who is from Hawaii, arrived three days prior to the holidays, and Jojo (without his wife Alvi and children Kayla and Bibay) from Florida arrived just in time for our Christmas day celebration.

Gigi and husband Eric from Sydney, Australia joined us via Zoom. Due to the pandemic travel protocol, we missed them in person. The Zoom Christmas gathering broke all the physical boundaries that separated us throughout the year. Thanks to the wonders of the internet! We spent Christmas in our daughter May and Steve’s house in their newly built house in Manteca, CA. And the following day, we celebrated the traditional Christmas party of our extended family up to the 4th generation at Allyson and Efren’s house in Livermore where three of my brothers – Marciano, Jr. and Romulo, joined us in person and via email my other brother Manuel!

While we put up our modest Christmas tree with gifts under it, we always had in mind that gift-giving was just incidental during the holidays. While others say it was the most expensive time of the year with all the gifts under the tree not only for our family members but for relatives, godchildren (inaanak) and friends (BFFs), there were ways to celebrate the frugal way… and still, we retained the Christmas spirit. That was what we did! After all, it was the giving that mattered… and receiving was just a gesture of thankfulness.

So, despite the pandemic, let us continue to enjoy the Christmas season and prepare for the coming New Year!

Belated Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all our TGU friends Ron & Yvonne San Juan-Sera; Al & Fe Gonzales Sepulveda; Lino & Jennifer Caringal, Jr.; Raei Soliven Escudero; Greta Manaois Ricarte; Rockin Ramil San Juan; Dr. Clare Adalem; Elpidio Angeles, Jr.; Fercima Fernandez Sumera; Dr. Fe Sumera Ranada; Lolay Gozon Celeste; Dado Fabro; Mayor Rammy Parayno 111, Former TESDA Secretary Sid Lapena, Ret. Gen. Jesus Agacita Fajardo, and Violeta Cayetano, among others.

To my Batch ’65 high school classmates Fe Malagayo Alluri; Rosalinda Tangalin Santos; Batch ’65 president Minda Ventanilla Tomines; former Batch ’65 president Arsenio Dulay; Mely Parayno; Bien Zabala Cordingley; David Sumera; Outstanding alumni for year 2022 Joweh Sumait; Mar Mateo; Bert Lapena; Cris Ramirez, Jose Corpuz, Ronnie Sabado; Manuel Idos; Judina Cadiente; Gilda Doot Nickel; Greg/Vicky Calacsan; Eufrosenia Tigno; Danny Calacsan; Gus Castillo; Dr. Lorenz Agbanlog; Roger Andrada; foundindg president of the UCNHSAAI (high school alumni association) Atty. Mario Bravo; Cora Massin Jacob; Amy Labarinto Retirado; Feliciana Sarga; Mila Goroza; Joy delos Reyes; Mila G. Gatchalian; Lolita Rosario; Aggie Pass; Aida Moreno Ambrosio; Eliodoro Calacsan; Leticia Malbog Tria; Gloria Benito; Del Domagas; and Orly Barrientos.

Happy holidays to my fraternity brothers (Beta Rho Omega Fraternity) Oscar David, Bert Cabardo, Egay Sevilla, Jun Gappe, Bob Bantolo, Willie Osorio, Rody Saez, Joe Galo Isada, Gerry David, Mike Soledad, OJ de Jesus, Dr. Jun Adraneda, Jun Gappe, my former editor Jun Ilagan, Atty. Nick Jimeno, Jovencio Gregorio, Aaron Cervantes, Terry Chentes, Jimmy Austria, Ed Ramos, former Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) president Ed Gonzalez; former Deputy Secretary General of NEDA Rolly Tungpalan, and Aaron Cervantes, among others.

My good friends former PUP Dean Roman Dannug; Atty. Rudolfo Brillantes; Prof. Lito Roldan; Prof. Susan Roldan; Prof. Jeng Red; Book Author Romy Morales from Anchorage Alaska; former VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Samuel Salvador; and Prof. Joey Alagaran.

To my Milpitas friends come-backing council member Atty. Garry Barbadillo; Outgoing Mayor Rich Tran; Former Mayor Jose Esteves; incoming Mayor and the first woman mayor of Milpitas Carmen Montano; Council member Evelyn Chua; reelected US Congressman Ro Khanna; and former Assembly member Kansen Chu. And… to my editors in Philippine News Today Francis Espiritu and Fred Gabot and my editors in Hawaii Filipino Chronicle Chona Sonido and Jim Bea.

And to my fellow homeowners/villagers from Green Park Village Nes & Susan Raquipiso; Jun & Beth Cruz; Ric & Angie Sangalang; Boy & Lita Viray; Boy & Tess Enriquez; Trell Jimeno; Jess & Nelly Tadena; Eric & Cory Zapata; Remy Caoagas; Myrna Chu; Caloy & Minda Maliwat; Cythia Amatorio; Ophie Ortiz, Nanding & Lydia Malvar, Elmer & Minda Glinoga, Mario & Lita Valenzuela, Ted & Auring Victorino, and former Cainta Councilmember Rannie & Josie Matias.

So, despite the tridemics, we enjoyed the Christmas season and now preparing for the coming New Year!

Belated Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa ating lahat!

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments, email the author at