By Azer Parrocha

GIFT GIVING. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos continue to spread the Yuletide cheers by inviting around 600 children for a treat dubbed, ‘Balik Sigla, Bigay Saya: Nationwide Gift Giving’ at the Kalayaan Grounds of Malacañan Palace on Sunday (Dec. 4, 2022). He said his administration will continue working during the holiday season to spearhead initiatives that aim to improve the lives of Filipinos. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Sunday said his administration will continue working during the holiday season to spearhead initiatives that aim to improve the lives of Filipinos.

“Kahit sumampa na ang Christmas season at yung iba ay medyo vacation mode na, tayo ay patuloy pa rin ang lahat ng ating ginagawa para masigurong walang patid ang pagpaganda ng kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan (Even though the Christmas season has arrived and the rest of us are in vacation mode, we still continue to do everything we can to ensure the continuous improvement of the condition of our countrymen),” Marcos said in his weekly vlog.

He touted anew the expansion of Kadiwa stalls in different parts of the country, to provide Filipino consumers with more affordable and high quality local products including rice from the National Food Authority (NFA), which is only at PHP25 per kilogram.

Currently, there are nearly 400 Kadiwa stalls nationwide with over 40 of them located in Metro Manila.

“Marami pa tayong inaayos diyan pero naman maging sustainable at permanent ang operations ng Kadiwa kahit tapos na ang Pasko (We are still fixing a lot there, but Kadiwa’s operations will be sustainable and permanent even after Christmas is over),” he added.

Kadiwa stalls were a brainchild of his parents, late former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

As part of efforts to ensure food security, Marcos talked about his trip to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna province on Tuesday where he learned more about studies and technologies that seek to boost the country’s agriculture sector.

“Marami tayong nakita na yung mga ginagwa nilang pag-aaral, yung kanilang mga eksperimento para pagandahin ang pagiging hanap-buhay ng ating mga magsasaka (We have seen a lot of their studies, their experiments to improve the livelihood of our farmers),” he said.

“Nakakatuwa dahil yung mga inaalala natin kung minsan na mga problema na hinaharap ng ating mga magsasaka ay talagang tinutugunan ng IRRI at may mga sagot din sila na magagamit natin (It was interesting because the IRRI has solutions to all the problems our farmers face),” he added.

He said he was also elated over the chance to recreate a photo of his late father’s visit to the IRRI headquarters on Oct. 26, 1966 with US President Lyndon Johnson, IRRI Director General Robert Chandler and scientists.

Marcos also took pride in borrowing another idea of his father’s–a program meant to ensure that all Filipino children get to celebrate Christmas — the “Balik Sigla, Balik Saya: Nationwide Gift-Giving Day” held at the Malacañan Palace Grounds on Sunday.

“Nung Pangulo yung ating ama, mayroon tayong ginagawa bawat Pasko na tinatawag na Maligayang Pasko. Yung buong Palasyo ay ginagawang children’s party, mayroong magician, may clown, mayroong mga laru-laro. Yung mga nakakapunta ay galing sa mga orphanage (When my father was president, we had an event called Maligayang Pasko every Christmas. The entire Palace would hold a children’s party with a magician, clown, and games. Attendees would be children from orphanages),” he said.

“Ang aming iniisip kasi yung ibang mga bata kung hindi natin bigyan ng Pasko, eh walang Pasko. Kawawa naman. Eh kami nang gagawa (What we had in mind is that some children don’t get to celebrate Christmas. It’s a pity. So we’ll throw them a party instead),” he added.

During the gift-giving event which was held in 40 locations across the country, Marcos gave out Christmas presents to hundreds of children from orphanages, shelters and communities.

Marcos also promised to continue implementing programs and projects meant to provide a better life for all Filipinos.

“‘Yan ang mga bagay na mula noon hanggang ngayon ay hindi magbabago at patuloy natin binibigyan ng halaga ang pag-aalaga at pagbibigay saya sa ating kabataan, ang mura at maasahang pagkain para sa lahat, at isang matibay at masaganang sistema ng agrikultura (Those are the things that from then until now will not change and we continue to value the care and enjoyment of our youth, cheap and nutritious food for all, and a strong and abundant agricultural system),” he said. (PNA)