ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Calamities test us: Aquino
Publication Date : 25-12-2013
The Philippine president exhorted Filipinos to live out the spirit of Christmas in wake of back-to-back calamities that struck the nation this year
On the eve of Christmas, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III exhorted the nation to “show the light and hope of Christ” in the wake of back-to-back calamities that, he said, tested the limits of millions of Filipinos this year.
In his traditional Christmas message, the president said this year’s Christmas should be a “reminder of how God so loved the world.”
Saying Christmas reminded everyone of what Christianity is all about, Aquino said that God showed love when He offered “His only begotten Son for the salvation of everyone.”
“This Christmas, let us keep alive the flame of Christ’s love. Let us serve as a source of hope for our fellow Filipinos,” he said.
The president, who visited disaster-stricken areas in Visayas and Mindanao on Sunday, also pointed to the resilience that Filipinos all over the world are known for.
“Like the Star of Bethlehem that served as an inspiration for the Three Kings, our fellow Filipinos affected by recent tragedies gave us inspiration and hope,” he said, noting that tragedies failed to break the spirit of the survivors.
Most expect happy Christmas
Despite the deadly disasters, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on said that its nationwide survey earlier this month found that 62 percent of Filipinos expected a happy Christmas—down slightly from 64 percent in 2012 and 2011.
Those expecting a sad Christmas in 2013 stood at only nine percent, the same level as last year, according to the survey results.
The SWS said that in the Visayas, which bore the brunt of the disasters, the number of people expecting a sad Christmas rose to 11 per cent this year from 7 per cent last year. It did not give a reason for the increase. Those in the central islands expecting a happy Christmas fell to 57 per cent this year from 66 per cent last year.
Inspiration to others
Aquino said that this year, Filipinos showed they could serve as an inspiration to others through their efforts to recover from great tragedies.
He was referring to the series of disasters, both manmade and natural, that affected millions of Filipinos, triggering humanitarian emergencies that depleted the resources of government.
In September, followers of Moro National Liberation Front founding chair Nur Misuari attacked parts of Zamboanga City, but they were eventually repulsed by government troops after a three-week battle.
In October, a 7.2-magnitude quake devastated Central and Western Visayas, killing more than 200 people in Bohol, Cebu and Siquijor provinces.
Last month, Supertyphoon “Yolanda” barreled through the Visayas, bringing strong winds and a storm surge that flattened communities and killed more than 6,000 people.
In the case of quake-affected towns in Bohol, Aquino noted that Boholanos showed fellow Filipinos “what is possible.”
Lesson from God
“This is one of the most important lessons from God: Do your best, God will do the rest,” he said.
The president made special mention of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), saying they have also shown that they could be united with their families, even if they are thousands of miles away.
He acknowledged that the year had been a particularly “difficult time” for many OFWs who had to spend Christmas away from their loved ones.
“Despite this, we celebrate Christmas as one people, regardless of where we are” and even during tragedies, he said.
The president, whose bouts of coughing interrupted his speeches the past weeks, will continue to work through the holidays except on December 27, when he will take a one-day off upon the advice of Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Ona has been urging the president to take a much-needed rest amid the seemingly endless problems of the country and other concerns of the presidency that are evidently taking a toll on the health of the president.