Bracing for Year 2024

By Herbert Vego

SOME of us will stay awake Sunday night to welcome the New Year with a media noche as the clock strikes 12:00 midnight, ending the present year with a new hope on Monday for the next 366 leap-year days.

The dying year must have been unfortunate for some of us.  But as the saying goes, “Where there is life, there is hope.” This we have seen in various ways that people react to circumstances.

You, too, must have seen that man recalling the ordeal he had undergone while extricating himself out of a recent fire that burned his and 49 other houses in barangay Habog-Habog Salvacion, Iloilo City.

“I have nothing left,” he cried mournfully before a radio reporter. In another minute, however, he ended his narrative with a grateful outlook: “I am fortunate to have survived. This is my second life. Thank God.”

Tough guy! It’s not easy to rise up where we stumbled.

Let his example guide us in charting New Year 2024 with renewed enthusiasm, as in writing a New Year’s resolution.

Frankly, however, it is not easy to fulfill a resolution like “to spend within my means”. An unexpected emergency situation may arise and melt the money that has taken years to save. I have been through it many times. Still, I am thankful for having stayed debt-free.

This year, I vow to enjoy better health – God willing.

There was a time when a date with an x-ray machine revealed a life-threatening lung disease which could be irreversible – emphysema, characterized by breast tightness, coughing and chasing short breaths.

The bad news depressed me, knowing a friend who had died within five years of enduring the same disease.  But I opted to believe in the familiar two words, “God heals.” I recovered.

It was on New Year’s day that I resolved to minimize consumption of meat, and to eat  more fruits and vegetables instead.

At 73 going on 74, I understand that other forms of geriatric diseases may manifest themselves, but I still view them positively as challenges to beat.

We like to think of New Year’s resolutions as an original Christian tradition. It is not. The tradition began in ancient Babylon. The Babylonians,  according to the website, were the first New Year “resolutioners” some 4,000 years ago. They mainly focused on making promises and offering sacrifices to gods, praying for fruitful harvests and swearing to repay debts in hopes that spiritual figures would bless people with good fortune. Failure to keep their word meant falling out of the gods’ favor.

For a New Year’s resolution to succeed, there must always be a motive strong enough to command fulfilment, as in the resolution to lose weight which is always anchored on the individual’s obsession to look more attractive and healthier.

Today, young high school students are asked to compose a New Year’s resolution. Most of them lead to self-betterment, such as studying harder and avoiding bad habits like smoking and drinking.

As an old adage rightly counsels, “Be the best of whatever you are.”



THANKS to Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla for taking time to send a “thank you” message to this writer for a Dec. 22 column item, where I lauded him for encouraging MORE Power Chairman Enrique K. Razon to focus on harnessing renewable energy.

In a brief message to this writer, Lotilla wrote, “We need the support of everyone to overcome the energy challenges in the climate transition.”

Talking of Razon’s new company, Terra Solar Philippines, it is developing a 2,500-megawatt solar power plant and a battery energy storage system (BESS). The BESS refers to rechargeable batteries that can store renewable energy from different sources, such as sun and wind, and discharge it as backup power when needed.

In an interview with a DZRH broadcaster, Razon mentioned MORE Power as a venture that has gained success in its first three years of operation in Iloilo City.  The company has minimized brownouts that used to annoy consumers under the previous distribution utility.

Another Razon “baby” that is gaining public support is Primelectric, for which he has earmarked a budget of ₱4 billion to modernize what used to be Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) through a joint venture now known as Negros Electric and Power Corp. (NEPC).

Like MORE Power, NEPC has Roel Z. Castro as president/CEO. He has asked its 200,000-plus customers in Bacolod City and suburbs to look forward to “power stability and sustainability” under his watch.

“To put it in proper perspective,” Castro told the media, “our expansion to Bacolod was asked by the consumers, so it was not like we just wanted to take over the city. Right now, we are not yet looking for another expansion; we will finish Bacolod first. There is still a long way to go.”