A Christmas tale by P.B. Robosa

Some years ago, for Christmas, I wrote a story as a Chirstmas gift to my wife, I gave her the copy of my first draft and vowed to elaborate it later when I will be able to publish it in a book along with my other stories. Well, the book is still a dream and the first draft remained untouched but its almost Christmas and I'm happy to share it with you.
The Tree of a Thousand Years
By: P.B.Robosa

Do you remember the story that the sky was once close to the earth? This was true. The sky was close to the earth and it was held by a tree that only lives for a thousand years. So for every thousand years or so the sky was in danger of falling down to earth and crushing everything on it, except of course, that their will be another tree ready to hold it up again. This would happen at the end of the year and at the beginning of the next so people then would wait quietly and anxiously at the end of the year, to the last minute, then broke in celebration on the first minute of the next year if the sky didn’t fall.
Nothing has yet seen this tree and many tried. It was said that a rainbow should point the way because its center is believed to be the highest part of the sky so perhaps the tree is there. So whenever a rainbow appears many would head out to its center. Finding the tree would be a great quest but also of enormous rewards because many believe that at the tree’s feet, gushes all the waters of the earth and from this the purest. From its branches, all fruit and flowers of the earth, even gold and silver, sprout and blooms. But best of all anyone who reaches it will have their hearts desire fulfilled, Once under the tree, one fears no ill weather, no hunger, no thirst, no loneliness and no pain. It would have been a great find for anyone indeed.
The bird Sayong wanted to see this tree and like many others he set out one day at the most beautiful of rainbows. The problem with Sayong was that he couldn’t fly like other birds because he was weighted down, endowed with many things because he was a peacock. He had a beautiful crown, shiny iridescent coat of feathers and a most wonderful tail that looked like it was studded with jewels. Sayong was encumbered by these trappings and a haughty and heavy heart that did not know how to love. So like the others he walked towards the rainbow.
After a while many have fallen back and discontinued the journey and only the most determined continued including Sayong. By nightfall the rainbow was gone and many others travelers and those that were left sat around a fire to keep warm. Sayong sat beside a tired Rooster who was staring at his crown. “My dear peacock,” said the Rooster, “you have such a beautiful crown.” “Do you get much praise from it?” “Yes I do,” said Sayong, “In fact I would give it to anyone quite easily because the endless praise it gets has become quite annoying.” “I would love to have them,” answered the Rooster quickly, “because that is why I am here, to look for praise which I have never had in my life and I fear I will die without it.” “I will give it to you if give me something in return.” said Sayong, “what do you have that you can give me?” Well they say I only have character, would you take some of my character?” “All right, said Sayong, taking off some of his crown and giving it to the Rooster for some of the Rooster’s character. At once Sayong felt some of his character and began to smile at himself.
The next evening at the fire, Sayong sat beside a tired looking Owl which kept looking at his iridescent feathers. “Did you get much learning my dear peacock? Your feathers are quite marvelous they look like the garment of a great philosopher.” “Yes,” answered Sayong, “I get much prestige from it but since the Rooster gave me some character last night I seem to feel no use for them.” “Prestige--you say?” retorted the Owl, “that is what I’m here for, I only have wisdom but I do not get much prestige, would you trade some of your coat with some of my wisdom?” “Gladly.” said Sayong.
On the next night, Sayong met a lonely looking white dove who kept looking at his tail feathers. “You have such beautiful tail feathers,” said the dove, “I wish I was born with some of them so I will not look so plain but beautiful like you. Sayong now with some character and wisdom offered “Would you like some of them, I’ll be glad to give you some.” “Really,” said the dove, “but I can only give you back some love which is all I have.”
“What is that?” Asked Sayong who did not know what love was. “No matter I’ll take it anyway, here are some of my tail feathers.” continued Sayong. Suddenly he felt very light and for the first time Sayong tried his flightless wings and he began to fly. He flew high up into sky and he was so happy he flew and flew and flew. At the very highest he did not feel the cold that was beginning to freeze his feathers, raindrops and wind began to buffet him but he continued on flying until at last he felt very tired and began his descent. A soon as the clouds parted from below him he saw a most majestic tree in front of him. It glittered with all manner of good things and Sayong immediately knew what it was and he headed for it.
Sayong perched on one of it branches and the tree moved feeling his presence. A voice from the tree began to talk. “Do you know where you are dear bird? You are in paradise and perhaps you are already dead for no one enters here alive.” “It does not matter anymore” answered Sayong “I am happy because I have found the tree of a thousand years.” The voice answered from the tree “The tree of a thousand years is the downfall of men, it is here that my Master was betrayed by the first man and woman who were lured and corrupted by its beauty. Up to this day it corrupts the world by its empty promises, that is perhaps why you are here. Yet my Master brings hope into the world by sending his son to destroy these promises and replace it with the promise of hope, no longer will men look from outside of themselves for nourishment, sustenance and freedom, but if they looked very hard, these they will find in their hearts.” And Sayong understood that his quest has ended and he stayed in paradise perched on the tree of a thousand years with his beauty, character, wisdom and love.
Everything came to pass in the world and a child was born to end all endless quests, and men most not look elsewhere but into their own hearts. The Rooster ever since was praised by men who removed its crown, the Owl had prestige but never got to show it because it came out only at night, the Dove never liked his tail feathers and today it has become symbol of love. Sometimes we never know what we will get until we stop wishing for it and we wait, What is true is that there is always joy in giving, whether it is a loving father giving his son away out of love, giving one’s life for others, or a Peacock giving all that he is about so he may truly feel real joy and freedom. We should remember these lessons at Christmas that it is not what we receive that gives us joy but what and when we give. To this very day we decorate the Christmas tree to remind us of another tree that holds up the sky and bears all things beautiful, why don’t we let it stay there till the New Year, lest the sky fall.

The End


The Year 2007 is marked in history, albeit quietly, as the Centennial of the First Philippine Assembly, the incipient Philippine Congress of the First Republic in Asia. In October 16, 1907, on it opening day, right after William Howard Taft formally opened the proceedings, Bishop Barlin was given the floor to deliver the invocation or opening prayer. Nationalist historians dismiss this event as an American colonial tool to pacify the Filipinos, but curiosly, among its first topics on its opening day was the subject of Philippine Independence and from point of view of an American journalist simply saw it as a significant event in the History of the Filipinos, thus he wrote:
"It was Father Barlin who made the invocation at the opening of the First Philippine Assembly in 1907 --- a little incident in world history the full significance one hardly grasps. In a setting of Oriental Fanaticism, where life is held at naught, where man has no right that may not lose overnight, where his liberty, his home, his family are his, only as long as they are not wanted by another more powerful than he, there had come into existence an island people with Christian ideals, in whose land our own America had laid the foundation of democracy. Here, in 1907, the Bicol bishop, Father Jorge Barlin, gave the opening invocation at the first Oriental assembly of the people, by the people, and for the people".
Invocation for the First Philippine Assembly
October 16, 1907
Delivered by Msgr. Jorge I. Barlin
Translated from the original Spanish by P.B. Robosa

To You, Greatest and Omnipotent Creator, the only Magnificent King, Who reigns over the Universe with Eternal Majesty as the only Lord God. Who has created it with Your Power, You have put it in order with your knowledge, You support it with Your kindness, and You control it with Your Providence; to You, Voice of God in the highest, on whom the light of intelligence existed from all eternity, and with it you enlighten all men born to this Earth; to You, fountain of knowledge, whose eternal commandments are just and honest for all men, governments, families, societies, countries and nations, for the tribes and the kingdoms; to you Father of Light, from whom descends generosity and perfect gifts; counsel and impartiality; prudence and strength; to You on whose hands are the riches and the glory, the opulence and justice of all nations; to You, for whom the rulers govern with wisdom, the lawmakers decree just laws, the princes and heads of states order good things and the judges administer justice; we invoke You now on this great day of our history, on the day when the Filipino nation, a nation that acknowledges and adores you, is assembled for the first time to deliberate on its future destiny.
Pour upon these noble representatives the abundance of Your gifts, light over their intelligence, firmness in their wills, straightforwardness, nobility and determination in their acts, prudence and tact in all their decisions; so they may decree what is good and useful for the country, that which would contribute for its well being and greatness, that which would make it tread its way always towards the path of real human progress, until it reaches the summit of liberty and independence where dwells the noble and great nation, to which you have trusted the continuity and accomplishment of the work for its moral and political greatness. Bless also, Omnipotent God, that country under whose protective shield you placed the direction and safeguard of our social life, peace and liberty. For the perception and practice of justice, you have made this country great and strong, you have exalted it with majesty and power over other nations; endeavor, Lord, that while fulfilling the mission you have trusted it with, make the Filipino nation great and contented among other nations of the Earth, AMEN.
Let us commemorate the yearnings and the hopes of the Filipino nation so eloquently laid out by our "kabanwaan" and continue to pray for our Nation, our government and our leaders that they may return to the guidance of God's wisdom and follow His will.