MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will lead the traditional Christmas tree lighting and gift-giving at Malacañan Palace in Manila this weekend.
The Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 25 and the gift-giving program on Nov. 26 will both be held at the Kalayaan Grounds, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.
Garafil said this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, with the theme “traditions and Innovations,” would highlight Filipino artistry and craftsmanship.
She said entries of the "Isang Bituin, Isang Mithiin" (One Star, One Goal) nationwide lantern-making contest from students of state colleges and universities (SUCs) will adorn the Palace Christmas tree this year.
“This project of the Office of the President thru the Social Secretary’s Office aims to celebrate the Filipino creativity, craftsmanship, and ingenuity, which must reflect on each parol (Christmas lantern) -- as the national symbol of Filipino Christmas and as a vital part of our cultural identity,” Garafil said.
“Now on its second year, the Isang Bituin, Isang Mithiin showcases the Filipino talent for arts and crafts as reflected on the intricate designs of these parols which continue to be the light and hope of Filipinos as we all progress towards a Bagong Pilipinas,” she added.
Garafil said winners of the competition will be announced during the Christmas tree lighting event and will receive prizes from the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
She said SUCs will receive a photo and video editing package, including a camera, gimbal, laptop, and editing software.
Student winners will receive cash prizes of PHP1 million for the first placer, PHP500,000 for the second placer, and PHP250,000.00 for the third placer, Garafil said.
“The student prizes will also include a laptop showcase and a mobile phone showcase. A special prize awaits the online poll winner who will receive PHP100,000,” she said, adding that the winners will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to Manila with a special tour of the Malacañang museums.
Winners were selected by judges architects Conrad Onglao and Mico Manalo, television host Boy Abunda, Rev. Father Rahnilio Aquino, and fashion icon Heart Evangelista-Escudero.
Garafil said the event would also feature the Coro de San Jacinto Chorale, Cagayan State University Chorale, actresz-singer Rita Daniela, and King of Philippine Christmas Carols, Jose Mari Chan, as special guest performers.
To give joy to over 17,000 children from 300 satellite centers, Marcos would also lead the second year of the Nationwide Gift-Giving Day, “Balik Sigla, Bigay Saya” program, Garafil said.
“An initiative of the Office of the President through the Social Secretary’s Office, more than 17,000 children from selected shelters and orphan care centers around the country will be the special guests for the festive occasion,” she said.
Garafil said the Department of Social Welfare and Development partnered with Marcos’ private support groups to organize the simultaneous celebration in over 250 locations nationwide.
She said Jolibee and San Miguel Corporation are among the private partners that will participate in the gift-giving event.
She noted that some of the places with the largest participants are the Cebu Technological University in Cebu City and University of Mindanao, Matina Campus in Davao del Sur with 449 and 600 children, respectively. (PNA)