Thursday, November 27, 2008

Green Christmas

For its annual Christmas tableaux, the Greenhills shopping center is doing something different: the presentation has nothing to do with Christmas. This year, they decide to focus on the environment, centered around the theme "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle." The good thing about it is instead of the environment theme feeling tacked on, it is the Christmas theme that feels tacked on.

The simple story happens in a place called Barangay Mapuntod ("Mapuntod Village"). The place starts out as dirty, where the local priest complains "hinihika na nga ako, achoo achoo" ("I already have asthma, cough cough"). The children, along with others in the community, decide to do something about it, cleaning, planting trees, observing the three R's. In the end the place becomes pretty and everybody's happy.

Another good thing is that for once, the presentation is almost entirely done in Filipino (the message to better reach everybody), save for the narration at the beginning and in the end by Miss Earth 2007 Jessica Trisko, and the dialogue of one of the main characters, a coño kid who speaks in Tag-lish.

Now, if only Greenhills can provide more garbage cans where we can throw our trash after pigging out on shawarma and kikiam...

Meanwhile, one jeepney ride away along the same avenue, the Manila Electric Company is also putting up its own show. Aside from setting its huge building ablaze with Christmas lights, it has installed its own presentation within its compound, what it calls "Barangay Maliwanag" (literally "Bright Village"), with a tranvia (early 20th century Manila tram) moving on a rail. Fine, it's pretty. Cute.

But what gets me is Meralco's brazen call for people to waste electricity because it's Christmas. Since 2006, Meralco has been holding a Christmas promo called "Maliwanag ang Pasko" ("Christmas is Bright"), for which it gives prizes to villages who can turn up the lights the brightest. Its promo spiel reads: "(the) campaign was launched in 2006 as a way of giving recognition to those that have been lighting up during Christmas and giving brightness to their communities. With the Filipino custom of lighting up and decorating their homes in preparation for the celebration of the birth of the Child Jesus, Meralco saw this as an opportune time to be one with its customers in enlivening the Christmas tradition by encouraging more people to light up their homes and spread the joy and spirit of the season further. As Meralco is associated with everything bright or “may liwanag”, the “Maliwanag ang Pasko” campaign espouses the company’s significance as the customers’ year-long partner in providing light, comfort and convenience, not only in their homes, but in churches, streets, and basically everywhere they go... With all the negative things that are happening both globally and locally, our people need hope more than ever. The 2008 Maliwanag ang Pasko Campaign of Hope enjoins everyone to light up individually, as part of a greater community effort which aims to spread goodwill and uplift our collective spirits by making this year’s celebration the brightest and most festive they have seen and been a part of. " (emphasis mine)

Unbelievable. Are we stupid or something? Isn't this nothing but a ploy to drive electricity bills higher so that Meralco can fatten up its Christmas bonuses?

Energy -- the use of it, the source of it, the effects of it -- shapes the foreign policy of most countries at present. People are dying because of it. Countries are going to war because of it. The planet is roasting because of it. In the face of concerted global efforts to preserve energy, and to alleviate the biblically horrendous effects of its overuse, not to mention the fact that kids in schools are being taught at an early age to conserve energy and other resources, for an energy company, partially dependent on the government at that, to come out and actually encourage people to do otherwise, is OBSCENE. Shame on you Meralco. Turn off those Christmas lights!

(Uh, should we also tell Araneta Center to turn the lights off its traditional giant Christmas Tree? Ok, maybe not, I'm actually fond of it. But do change those bulbs.)

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