MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delighted children with gifts like backpacks and toys during a nationwide gift-giving event at the Malacañan Palace Grounds on Sunday.
In a speech during the “Balik Sigla, Balik Saya: Nationwide Gift-Giving Day”, Marcos said it was a tradition for the President to distribute gifts to children at the Palace as part of an early Christmas celebration.
“Hindi kumpleto ang kahit anong Pasko kung hindi natin nakikita ang ngiti at tuwa ng ating mga anak, ang ating mga apo, ang ating mga kabataan. Kaya’t this is a very, very happy day for me dahil tradisyon ito dati pa, dito sa Palasyo, gumagawa kami ng children’s party pag Pasko (Christmas would not be complete if we would not see the smiles of our children, grandchildren and youth. That is why this is a very, very happy day for me because it has been a long tradition of the Palace to hold a children’s party during Christmas),” he said.
He said the annual event is held to ensure that all children across the country will have a happy Christmas celebration.
“Para naman lahat nakasiguro tayo lahat ng ating kabataan sa buong Pilipinas ay merong Pasko, at merong konting party, me konting gift-giving, me konting palaro, at lahat ‘yan (So we can make sure that all children across the country celebrate Christmas and there’s a small party, gift-giving, games and all of that),” he added.
Marcos said the nationwide gift-giving event is being held simultaneously in 40 locations across the country.
Livestreams of the gift-giving in different locations were also broadcast via Zoom.
Marcos and his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos were also serenaded by a children’s choir’s rendition of “O Holy Night” and “I Wish You a Merry Christmas”.
The gifts the children received at Malacañang were provided out of the generosity of private businesses as well government agencies that included the Office of the President, Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Marcos recalled how he once participated in the games in his youth, adding that the tradition began during his father’s time.
“Diyan ‘yung stage nung mga magicians. Wala pang inflatables, mga kainan lang, games (That’s the stage where magicians performed. There weren’t any inflatables yet, just food and games). I’m just continuing the tradition that was begun in my father’s time. It was the funniest day, all the kids would come… Nakikilaro din ako noon (I also used to play with other kids),” he said.
On Saturday, Marcos led the traditional Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Malacañan Palace.
In his speech, Marcos said he had always believed that Christmas is “really for the children” and promised that the government would do everything it could to ensure that every Filipino child gets to celebrate the holidays.
He said Christmas gives Filipinos a renewed sense of hope, considering that the coronavirus pandemic restricted public movement.
"Tatlong taon na tayo hindi nakapag-pasko na kagaya ng pasko ng Pilipino. Dahil iba talaga ang pagdiriwang ng pasko 'pag nasa Pilipinas ka. Wala ka ng makikita kahit saan sa buong mundo na mas masaya na tao kapag nagka-pasko at lalong lalo na para sa mga bata (For three years, we were unable to celebrate Christmas the way we do it. It's really different when we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. Unlike in other countries, people in the Philippines, especially the children, are very happy when they celebrate Christmas)," he said.
Araneta-Marcos, former first lady Imelda Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio were among those who attended the lighting of the Christmas tree.
Marcos also conferred the awards on the winners of the nationwide parol-making competition dubbed as “Isang Bituin, Isang Mithiin". (PNA)