MANILA, Philippines – Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo asked Filipinos to be the hope they wish to see this Christmas, amid the twin challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (international name Rai).
In her Christmas message, sent to media on Christmas Eve, December 24, she acknowledged that this year’s holiday season will be more muted because of the crises facing the country.
“The past year has not been easy. Many are just now attempting to start over after the challenges brought by the pandemic. This past week saw more hardship in the devastation brought by typhoon Odette. There will be those among us who will celebrate Christmas without the presence of their loved ones,” she said.
She urged Filipinos to continue to celebrate Christmas in their own way and take to heart that the season is a season of giving.
“Despite these challenges, we wrap our presents, however small. We set the table even if get-togethers are humbler. We hang lanterns and lights so that those around us feel the message Christmas brings: That hope is found in togetherness, in opening oneself to one’s fellow human beings, in letting them feel that they are not alone, that we always have someone beside us, whether in times of trial or along the path towards our dreams,” said the Vice President.
She spoke of how Jesus Christ “walked in the slippers of the common man” and that Christmas is about how he took human form “to let us feel His divine love for humankind.”
Filipinos, she said, should come together and be each other’s source of hope.
“Let us hug those we love more tightly, in the same way we hold on tightly to hope: Hope we bring to our fellow human beings every time we show our love for them, and the hope they bring us every time we accept their love,” said Robredo.
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima urged Filipinos to show compassion and pray for one another in the face of hardships brought by the pandemic and Typhoon Odette. De Lima, who will mark her fifth holiday season in jail, spoke of how Christmas “will always be a season of hope, love, and humility.”
“We are one with those in longing, in hardship, neglected, and set aside; we sympathize and will fight for what each one of us deserves: food on every table, aid for those in need, respect for everyone’s rights, restoration of justice, a competent government, and national dignity and sovereignty,” De Lima said in Filipino in a statement on Friday.
Parts of the country, mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao, will go without electricity and flowing potable water on Christmas Eve. Thousands of homes have been damaged by Odette’s winds and floods.
All over the country, groups and individuals have mobilized to provide aid to the affected areas. Here’s a compilation of such efforts.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 pandemic infections have seen a downturn, with new cases reported daily being the lowest it’s been in months. Most of the economy has opened up. But the more transmissible Omicron variant is the latest threat to this progress. No local transmission has been detected in the country as its three Omicron cases were from persons who came from foreign travel. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com