By Herbert Vego
TODAY is Valentine’s Day. It’s not a holiday, but the whole world celebrates February 14 as lovers’ red-letter day. It is the special day when married couples, fiancés and fiancées exchange love notes, whisper sweet nothings and go out for dinner or a hotel tryst. The most visible symbol of this day is the legendary boy Cupid. Armed with a bow and arrow, he aims at a man and a woman and pierces through two hearts at once. His victims thus fall — in love.
It is probably the occasion’s identification with fornication that has forced the Roman Catholic Church to remove St. Valentine – the lovers’ patron saint — from its roster of saints. Much more than that, it is actually a takeoff from a pagan celebration that originated in the third century. Since there are various apocryphal accounts of its origin, unfortunately, we can’t confirm which one is correct. Suffice it to recall the most popular one:
In the third century, hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside of Rome where shepherds kept their flocks. Every February, the Romans celebrated the Lupercalia feast so that no harm would come to the shepherds and their flocks.
Also, during the Lupercalia in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, young women put their names into a box, to be drawn by men. The matching boys and girls would be considered partners for the year.
To win converts, church officials Christianized the ancient pagan Feast of Lupercus, changing its name to St. Valentine’s Day. To give the celebration further meaning and eliminate pagan traditions, priests substituted the raffle draw of the Saints’ names for the names of the girls. The young people were supposed to emulate the lives of the saints whose names they had drawn.
By the fourteenth century, however, they reverted back to the use of girls’ names.
The drawing of names on St. Valentine’s Eve has survived in England and neighboring places. When a boy draws a girl’s name, he pins it on his sleeve and pays her special attention. This makes the girl his valentine throughout the year.
In the United States today, Valentine’s Day parties include a “raffle of hearts.” The “hearts” are heart-shaped red cardboards cut by half in unique jigsaw pattern and distributed to single young men and women. Each half-heart male recipient looks for the other half and inevitably finds it in the hand of a female recipient, who then becomes his Valentine.
That reminds me: As a high school student in 1963, I had the unforgettable pleasure of participating in a “raffle of hearts” on Valentine’s Day at the Antique Christian Center in San Jose, Antique. I was probably the luckiest boy on that occasion, since my heart’s “other half” happened to be that of a beautiful American girl, Carol Housetone. I had the feeling that she would be mine in due time, only to discover after my high school graduation that she had returned with her parents to the United States.
Legend has it that Valentine, a priest who became bishop during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius, charmed the young and old, rich and poor people to attend his services. As a result, he performed many marriages. This angered Emperor Claudius, who could no longer recruit soldiers for his wars because the men would no longer leave their wives. Claudius eventually banned Valentine from officiating marriages.
Valentine thought this to be unfair and secretly solemnized marriages of several couples. When Claudius found out, he threw Valentine in prison. While there, he cured a jail guard’s daughter of blindness. Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and wrote her letters that were signed “From your Valentine.”
Legend has it that Claudius became enraged and had Valentine clubbed and beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D.
As to how he made it to sainthood, no undisputed historical record exists in the Church’s archives. According to Webster’s New World Encyclopedia, the “de-sainted” saint might never have existed.
A VALENTINE’S GIFT TO ILONGGOS
TODAY, February 14, is Valentine’s Day. The date also marks the third anniversary of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) as the mew power distribution franchisee in Iloilo City. Remember, it was on Feb. 14, 2019 when President Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11212, which granted MORE Power the 25-year franchise.
Due to a legal conflict with the outgoing franchisee, Panay Electric Co. (PECO), however, it was not until one year and two weeks later on Feb. 29, 2020 that a court of law flashed the green light for the takeover in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling affirming the constitutionality of RA 11212.
Therefore, it would be correct to celebrate the Valentine month as both the third anniversary of the franchise law and the second anniversary of the company’s functionality as energy distributor.
Starting with 63,000 energized households, MORE Power has grown into 83,000 paying customers. The addition is attributable to power pilferers who have decided to go legal.
With their conversion, the company has almost eliminated all unauthorized “jumpers,” resulting in reduced rates, from around P10 per kilowatt-hour in 2020 to P6.38 today.
MORE Power’s success in the home front has inspired MORE Power’s President Roel Z. Castro to send around 30 engineers and electricians to Negros Occidental to assist the electric cooperatives there in restoring power that had blacked out due to super typhoon “Odette”.
The rehab work was so tough and urgent that they had to stay away from their families during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. In fact, it was only last Saturday that they finally returned home to their Iloilo City base.
Their long days away from home have only made their homecoming sweeter, in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day today with their loved ones. Welcome home, energy frontliners!