By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

Onward forward with an eye backward

December 27, 2023, 2:10 pm

“I have squandered my days with plans of many things… For all we ought to have thought and have not thought; all we ought to have said, and have not said; all we ought to have done and have not done; I pray, thee God, for forgiveness.”- Antonio Banderas, from the movie “13th Warrior”.

New Year is almost upon us and like always, many of our countrymen are thinking about their media noche, fireworks and New Year’s resolutions. For many Filipinos, it is a time of hope, celebration and a chance to start anew and forget the hardships and failure of the year that was. Unfortunately, for some Filipinos, New Year’s Day is a time of trepidation, regret, and at worse, a sense of extreme sadness for those who feel that they have reached the nadir of their sufferings. For them, they are unable to let go of the negative experiences of the past year.

New Year parties or reunions are often an additional source of anxiety for some. Questions about marriage, kids, career and even questions about weight thrown to thirty or forty old nephews and nieces by their relatives trigger regret and put pressure on them.

There was this Korean drama show where the lead actor observed that he envied his cat who seemed to live in the present. According to him, humans are the only species that lock themselves in time and age. Humans feel that at certain ages, we should have achieved or done something. I know some 30-year-old friends and family who feel that life is passing them by every time the New Year countdown begins.

Some people say that to solve this New Year blues, we should reboot every New Year and forget all negative thoughts and memories. New Year for them is a chance to start with a clean slate. Their motto is “Onward Forward Always”. Some people partially disagree and claim that negative experiences serve a purpose in life. These experiences are supposed to teach us a lesson. We are supposed to use them to avoid the same mistakes and to find ways to be better.

Perhaps, we would do well to remember how the Jan. 1 New Year celebration began. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar, emperor of ancient Rome, initiated the practice of celebrating New Year on Jan. 1. It was done partially because the calendar “needed correction”. It was also done partially to honor Janus who was the Roman deity for beginnings. It is said that Janus had two faces which allowed him to look forward into the future and look back into the past. As such, New Year was both an anticipation of the future colored with the lessons of the past.

There is a prayer made famous by the character played by Antonio Banderas in the movie titled, “The 13th Warrior” which is the quote I cited at the beginning of this article. It is about regretting the things not done but without carrying it forward. Maybe this New Year, we can try this philosophy. We can remember the past and acknowledge it and then we can look forward to the future. Let us not pressure ourselves about expectations. Let us just accept these things and use them to address the things that may “need correcting” in our lives.

This New Year, maybe we can try a new motto: “Onward forward with an eye backward!

This is my oblique observation. Happy New Year everyone!

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.