Winds of Change

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After all the bluster of Donald Trump for four years, now comes the inevitable bow to reality.

Many immigrants to the United States, including Filipino- Americans, remember too well when then President Donald Trump boasted too often during his political sorties that, “We are going to win so much that you are going to be sick and tired.”

Well, over the next four years, people in the United States got sick (nearly 10 million of them have been diagnosed suffering from coronavirus and more 237,000 dead from the disease), sick of his lackluster performance on the job as president as they got tired from all his bluster.

There were warning signs all along that the shifting winds gave cues:

A raging pandemic in the US and the death toll the highest in the world. Yet Trump merely dismissed coronavirus, saying, “It will sort of go away.” It didn’t, and continues its killing spree.

Killing of colored people by the police that Trump took for granted and which caused violent riots across states in the US and launched the national movement, “Black Lives Matter.”

Trump’s consistent refusal to denounce violent acts committed by self-proclaimed white supremacists and perpetuated racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Trump has deepened inequality, plunging the US, into a country, divided.

Trump didn’t for a movement believe the winds of change were shifting, in the other direction and not his way. He was ensconced in a pure fantasyland, being a former celebrity who subsumed governance. Fantasies that collided with reality of running a government apparatus.

And people in America decided they’d had enough. More than 74 million registered voters made a referendum on Trump’s performance and voted him out of office. In short, Trump was fired.

Behind Trump’s bluster, he was beatable.  It took a humble person by the name of Joe Biden, to do it.

And 66 per cent of the roughly 2 million Filipinos in the United States and other immigrant registered voters helped 74 million Americans in removing the title “President of the United States,” from Trump.

About 30 per cent of the registered Filipino Americans leaned towards the Republican Party of Trump. But that political divide closed considerably during this latest US Presidential election   with more leaning towards the Biden camp when Trump showed his true color of encouraging racism in the US.

Filipino-Americans comprise 4.5 percent of the 44.7 million other immigrants in the US. The Filipino-Americans is the second largest voting minority bloc in the US.  In total Asian Americans number around 11 million, or 5 per cent of those eligible to vote.

Filipino-American civic leader Rodel Rodis, co-founder of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), said the association came out with a stand, the members “chose life” by supporting Biden.

NaFFAA supported Biden because what the members said, “their lives depended on it.” NaFFAA’s mission is to “promote the welfare and well-being of Filipino-Americans throughout the United States by amplifying their voices, advocating on behalf of their interests and providing resources to facilitate their empowerment.”

All Cordillerans and lowlanders who migrated to the US are members of NaFFAA.

During his debate with Biden in September 29, Trump refused to condemn the violence instigated by White supremacists on colored people. This did not go unnoticed by the Filipino-American community.

Leticia Shahani, niece of former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, and who previously held position when she was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Secretary-General of the Philippine National Commission to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), now living in the United States and   an officer of NaFFAA exhorted the Filipinos there by saying, “We need a leader who will bring us together, not divide us into warring camps. Joe Biden is that leader.”

Shahani hails from lowland Pangasinan.

Joseph Alimbuyao, formerly a resident of Camdas Barangay, Baguio City, but migrated with his family to Hawaii   kept this column abreast of the events that transpired from the US presidential campaign to the conclusion of the election. Alimbuyao voted for Biden.

Mercilinda Rama Macdicken, living in the US and a close relative of Dobbie de Guzman, a well-known television news anchor in Baguio City, also revealed to this column that she went for Biden, like the other Filipinos there in the US.

Quite revealing how these NaFFAA members took to their new political winds for positive change and start to feel progress out from the blue when they explained, that during Trump’s time, they said “they felt they could not breath.”

And talking of winds of change, last Monday saw parts of Benguet Province feel the flip of the temperature as it dipped at 9.8 degrees Celsius in Baguio City, its coldest since the onset of the northern monsoon.

Majority of the citizenry take the matter in stride as part of the “brrr” months leading to December while songs like “Tis the season to be jolly,” try to bubble their way out of the mouths, these sort of songs having lain dormant for many months in the recesses of the minds.

Popularly anticipated, the gradual changing of the season, sometimes referred to by weather experts as, “coming of the amihan,” accentuates in fact the strengthening of high pressure area over the Asian continent as countries in these land mass begins to feel the bite of the cold.

It’s the silent approach of the bone-chilling Siberian winds or technically termed Siberian High. And with it brings the northeast monsoon season, or as Filipinos know it better as amihan.

In Philippine mythology, particularly the Tagalog folklore, amihan is a bird, considered the first creature to inhabit the universe and, as the folklore   told, saved Malakas and Maganda, the first human beings on earth.

How it became related in modern meteorological terms and associated with the cool northeast winds might well be a good topic of enlightenment by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for use by students and readers, as well.

When northeasterly surface winds slowly but sweepingly brushes the north Luzon provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain province, Batanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya and Quirino, well, all the more fitting then to brush up on your talent of belting out the so-called Christmas songs in preparation for December.

This hidden urge of singing Christmas songs reminds of an incident witnessed two years back in Baguio when a kumare met her kumpare at the market section and the kumpare said, “Kumusta kumare, ayna, lumamlamin manen ti simoy ti angin, anya!”

The kumare answered, “Wen ngarud, kabungis-ngis a kumpare, ag-araruyot manen ti lam-min. Ay kumpare gayam, panga-asim ta dinak liplipatan nga paraboran ti necklace a nu umay nga Christmas.”

The kumpare paused talking for a moment then said, “Ayna kabungis-ngis a kumare, uray anya dawatem pwera la necklace. Ngamin, kumare, uray nalami-is ti apros ti angin, ngem adda ti lapayag na. Ken dayta dawdawatem a necklace baka isu ti gapu nga di nasayaat ti aruyot ti kanta ti angin ti Christmas a dumandanon iti kaarubam.” (referring to gossip flowing with the winds).

With northeasterly surface winds transition, it’s particularly felt in in Northern Luzon. People soak into the cold of December in Cordillera highlands and the lowlands while chilly mornings brings respite for dwellers   in other Luzon areas and in the Visayas.

In Siberia, it’s known that the Siberian wind is a mute wind. It makes no roar; It just rushes on, cold and silent over the endless miles of Siberian tundra.

Bu there is a sound, nonetheless. A haunting cry that rides the wild wind; a cry chiseled out of frozen air and etched in darkness.

This dominating cold air is usually propagated by the Siberian High oscillating clockwise and moving into the Bashi Channel, part of the Luzon Strait in the Pacific Ocean.

While the Siberian winds will, however, complete its cycle this year, it begins to make farmers in Benguet fret again over the adverse effects it brings to the highland crops and are beginning to brace up for any possible “frost attack,” knowing fully well from experience that  the changing winds will continue to affect the   northern part of the country.