By Azer Parrocha

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FIRST FAMILY: President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and their children, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro”, Joseph Simon and William Vincent “Vinny” greet Filipinos a merry Christmas in a video uploaded on the President’s official Facebook page. (Screengrab from BBM Facebook page)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Sunday urged Filipinos to remember the “true essence” of Christmas amid preparations for the busiest season of the year. 

In his Christmas message, Marcos reminded Filipinos that the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Christ. 

“The story of Christ’s birth has become an integral part of our culture and, every year, we have become more accustomed to commemorating this day with gatherings, thanksgiving, and merrymaking. No matter the evolution of its observance, it is imperative that we emphasize the true essence of this holiday —love,” he said.

Marcos said the celebration of love allows Christmas to “be more than just a Christian tradition.” 

“Across beliefs, all the generosity and goodwill stirred in this season are welcomed,” he added. 

Marcos expressed confidence that embracing these qualities will help everyone “overcome the difficulties brought by the pandemic and other challenges.”

“Let our spirits not dwell on the adornments that we display, on the buzz and activities we create, nor on the lack thereof. Instead, let us partake in this holiday with the same simplicity, sense and meaning that we get from it,” he said.

Marcos also urged Filipinos to offer smiles, share conversations, or impart wisdom to peers, loved ones and even strangers.

“Let our affection be known and felt in the simplest of ways so that the eternal message of the Nativity of Christ may again spark hope for a brighter future in the hearts of all,” he said. 

“I wish everyone a Christmas full of love, compassion, and hopeful beginnings,” he added. 

Brighter future

Aside from remembering the true meaning of Christmas, Marcos was hopeful that the holiday would strengthen Filipinos’ faith in God. 

Ngayong Pasko, hiling ko na masumpungan natin ang tunay na kahulugan ng kapanganakan ni Kristo, habang ating ginugunita ang payapa at banal na gabi ng kanyang pagsilang. Nawa’y maging daan ito upang higit tayong manalig sa Poong Maykapal (This Christmas, I pray that we find the true meaning of Christ’s birth, as we commemorate the peaceful and holy night of his birth. May this be a way for us to trust God more),” he said in a separate video message.

Marcos was also hopeful that the country and people would attain a brighter future.

Dalangin ko rin po na ang pangako ng isang maginhawa at magandang kinabukasan ay makapagbigay ng pag-asa sa bawat Pilipino (I also pray that the promise of a comfortable and bright future will give hope to every Filipino),” he added.

Marcos renewed his call for unity, saying it was only through cooperation where the nation and people could achieve success. 

Manalig po tayo na sa ating pagtutulungan, matutupad natin ang pangakong ito. Higit sa lahat, buksan natin ang ating mga puso sa diwa ng pagkakaisa (Let’s trust that with our cooperation, we will fulfill this promise. Above all, let’s open our hearts to the spirit of unity),” he said. 

Marcos was optimistic that Christmas would give Filipinos inspiration to do their part in attaining progress for the country. 

Nawa’y ang ligaya at saya nitong Pasko ang siyang maging bukal ng lakas upang patuloy tayong magsikap para sa ikabubuti ng ating minamahal na bansang Pilipinas (May the happiness and joy of this Christmas be the source of strength so that we can continue to strive for the good of our beloved country, the Philippines),” he added.

Looking after one another

Department of National Defense (DND) Senior Undersecretary and officer-in-charge Jose Faustino Jr., meanwhile, thanked the country’s troops for working during the holidays to ensure that the country and people remain safe and secure.

“As the rest of the world celebrates, I convey my most earnest gratitude to our brave and selfless soldiers, especially those who serve in the farthest reaches of our archipelagic nation, away from their families,” he said.

“Amidst the threats to their lives, they continue to protect our country and people from those who wish to disrupt the democratic Filipino way of life. Their sacrifice and commitment to their duties shall ultimately pave the way for us to build a more peaceful and secure future,” he added.

Faustino said it was his “ardent wish” that the spirit and grace of the Holy Family will continue to guide the people during this holiday season and beyond. 

“Let us look after one another and collectively work toward the betterment of our beloved nation,” he said.

Faustino described the Christmas season as “a blessing” and “a chance to celebrate our victories, take stock of our challenges, strengthen our faith, and shine a light on those in need.” (With reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)