I am not quite sure how to write this without sounding cynical. Or jaded. Or simply bitter. But let me give it a try anyway.
The opening salvo: Valentine's Day really sucks. There, I said it.
Why? One might simply conclude that such a beautiful day of lollipops and roses, of candies and sweet music can only suck for someone who has to spend it alone in front of a television watching Willing Willie rather than to be out somewhere planning the next move leading to foreplay.
For how can Valentine's Day suck when love makes the world go around and all that sort of greeting card stuff you've heard even before Elvis rocked his pelvis?
Well, it still sucks even if you have a partner ... That is, if you ask me.
Why? Well, for one thing --- in a culture like ours that seeks to find any reason to celebrate, Valentine sounds like a hangover pill you take right after Christmas season.
Pinoys are said to have the longest Yuletide celebration. As early as September they are playing Santa Claus is Coming to Town in malls together with plastic garlands and mistletoes sold at your friendly bookstores.
Filipinos love to find every excuse to celebrate ... and spend. And being natural suckers for anniversaries, month-saries (which I will write about in a more appropriate time) and even adversaries --- Valentine is the perfect trap to give us a reason to go out, buy a gift and spend, spend, spend. We equate celebrating with spending kasi.
If it keeps the wheels of commerce turning, then fine with me. I am sure Cesar Purisima is endorsing Valentine's Day together with his Big Boss (who I am sure will find his appropriate date ... who I am sure his Little Sister will announce to the public with a cloud of mystery for that right touch of intrigue).
If it is a reason to bring back middle-aged post-menopausal pop artists who were very much a part of my growing-up years, then that's really, really great! I mean ... hey! Don MacLean! Stephen Bishop! Dan Hill! And ... Yvonne Elliman! Singing all their pop tunes that I keep like sacred mantras in my iPod! Sige lang! 'Tara na sa Araneta!
But then to say that Valentine's Day is that special day of the year when you can express and profess the breadth and depth of your love for he or she who has become the very fulcrum of your existence .... that, my dear, is a lot of crap.
And if you think I'm being crappy for saying that, then you have become a Stepford Wife who has been so conditioned by commercialism to even think that right this very moment Mister and Missus Santa Claus are giving assignments to their faithful elves for the next back of toys to be delivered this coming Christmas. Valentine's Day is big business. Along the same vein as Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparents' Day, Your Favorite Pet Day, Teacher's Day or Whatever-Day-It-Is-Today.
Hey, there is nothing wrong with romance. Or celebrating. Don't get me wrong. Age does not diminish romance. On the contrary, age refines one's concept of love ... and loving.
As the decades teach you lessons both sweet and merciless, you realize that passion may be one big roller coaster ride --- but love is ironic. It is an ever-changing constant. And I didn't write that for the sake of a quotable-quote or to have it land on a greeting card to accompany a bouquet.
It is ever-changing because it must grow and evolve and assume various shapes and shades if you want love to last through the years. People change. Partners change. And this is necessary. I have always believed that you cannot be the same person for more than a year. You should get bored of yourself before others get bored of you.
What more of your partner? I do not believe in even bigger crap like love so unconditional that your devotion will remain the same even if you have reached that eternal plateau when you can no longer stand each other. Why? Because you are so bored out of your wits with each other's company. And that can only happen when you get addicted or fixated on your comfort zone.
Partners must change. They must grow ... separately and together. And Valentine's Day has got nothing to do with that.
Annual assurances are cute but they are like breath mints -- sweet, but not exactly necessary -- not unless you are trying to hide or sugarcoat something you would rather not let anyone else know. And one thing time teaches you is that the real magic of love is not in the flowers, the music or the chocolates --- but the wonderment of the changes that happen each year, each month, each day. It is the endless and constant process of rediscovery that cannot be marked by any single day, any appointed anniversary.
If you really think about it, that battered and overused saying really holds greater truth: every day should be Valentine's Day ... because every day should find a casual and natural expression of affirming one's love ... for anyone or anything. You may not even be together ... but the thought and the feelings that bind are the very fibers that hold your hearts together.
No, I am not going to be a party-pooper. So go out and enjoy the Day of Hearts. Go buy the suddenly-oh-so-expensive-flowers that would cost over a thousand a bouquet. Go get the chocolate truffles. Go have that expensive dinner date, devouring delicious Wagyu steak seated on volcanic stone. Go murmur sweet nothings.
But do it out of love, for Christ's sake ... and not out of expectation...or obligation ... or tradition ... or just to say you had reasons to celebrate.