By Azer Parrocha

HOLIDAY CHEERS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. gives a Christmas gift to a young girl at the Open Ampitheater of the Rizal Park in Manila on Thursday (Dec. 22, 2022). Marcos noted that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue doing its part to alleviate hunger and poverty among Filipinos beyond the holiday season. (PNA photo by Alfred Frias)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday assured Filipinos that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other concerned agencies are working 24/7 to respond to the needs of the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged during and beyond the holidays.

In his speech during a gift-giving activity, “Pangkabuhayan at Pamaskong Handog ng Pangulo at Unang Ginang sa Sambayanang Pilipino”, Marcos lauded the DSWD for assisting Filipinos, especially during disasters.

Etong nakaraan na siguro anim na buwan ay busying-busy ‘tong mga ito dahil ang daming dumaan dito sa Pilipinas. May bagyo, nagkalindol pa tayo sa Abra, kaya’t siguro masasabi natin isa na ito sa mga agencies na 24/7 talaga (In the past six months, these people have been busy. A lot of disasters struck the Philippines, typhoons, an earthquake in Abra, that’s why perhaps we can say it’s one of the agencies that has been working 24/7),” the President told guests at the Open Ampitheater at the Rizal Park in Manila.

“Hindi natutulog yung bagyo, hindi nagbabakasyon yung lindol, at yung flooding ay di nangingilala ng holiday kaya’t kahit papaano laging nandiyan yung mga ‘yan. Kaya’t maraming salamat sa inyo hindi lamang para sa ngayong event na ito kung hindi para sa lahat ng inyong ginawa at napakabuti dahil maraming-marami kayong natulungan (Typhoons don’t sleep, earthquakes don’t go on vacation, and floods don’t recognize holidays, but still they’re always there. Thank you for not just hosting this event, but for everything you’ve done because you have helped a lot of people),” he added.

Marcos noted that the DSWD will continue doing its part to help alleviate hunger and poverty among Filipinos beyond the holiday season.

Ito ang aming konting tulong sa inyo, hindi lang po ngayong Pasko. Asahan po ninyo kayo ay laging nasa isip namin. Itong mga DSWD, araw-araw ‘yan 24/7 iniisip nila kung paano namin kayo tutulungan…para nga kahit paano, kahit nakalampas na ang Pasko, yung new year ay patuloy pa rin ang aming tulong sa inyo (This assistance won’t just be during Christmas. You can expect that you will always be in our thoughts. DSWD has been thinking 24/7 about how we can help you…even after Christmas, the new year, we will still continue to help you),” he said.

During the gift-giving activity, Marcos distributed Christmas gifts to at least 400 children and 574 individuals and families, including several members of indigenous people (IP) groups and children in street situations adopted by communities from all 17 local government units (LGUs) of Metro Manila.

Child beneficiaries received food packs and gift packs containing toys and books while adult beneficiaries each received six kilograms of rice, grocery items, hygiene kits, and cash assistance amounting to PHP10,000 from the Department’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) program.

‘People’s Palace’

Meanwhile, Marcos enjoined the public anew to enter the Malacañang Palace Grounds to view the Malacañang Christmas Tree and parols and attend the Simbang Gabi.

Aanyayahan ko rin pala kayo…Binuksan namin ang Palasyo, ang Malacañang, para yung mga nagaantay magsimbang gabi, puwede mag istambay muna doon sa amin. So nakabukas ‘yun mula alas siyete ng gabi hanggang mga 4:30 a.m. pag Simbang Gabi na (I also want to invite you…we opened the Palace, the Malacañang, so that those who are going to church for Simbang Gabi, can hang out with us first. So it’s open from seven o’clock in the evening until about 4:30 a.m. during the Simbang Gabi),” he said.

He said everyone is welcome to visit the Palace because it is their “home.”

“Welcome kayong lahat. Bukas na ang Palasyo. Hindi ko naman bahay ‘yan e, bahay niyo ‘yan, kaya’t binuksan ko na (You are all welcome. The Palace is open. It’s not my home, it’s your home that’s why I opened it for you),” he added.

Marcos likewise underscored the importance of celebrating the holidays despite the hardships brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and rising inflation.

Kahit dumadaan tayo sa hirap, marami pang hamon tayong haharapin, kahit sandali lang mag-celebrate naman tayo ng isang (Even if we go through hardships and are yet to face more challenges, even for a while let’s celebrate a) merry, merry Christmas and a happy New Year,” he said. (PNA)