The Philippines has won the distinction of having the longest celebration of Christmas. And this special celebration has a special place for children, whose simple joy gives color to this celebration. Families make sure that their celebration of Christmas would be always festive and joyful. This joy is born, above all, out of the encounter with Jesus, the Incarnate Word. Keeping this in mind, the Houses of Formation here in the Philippines prepared three separate Christmas parties for children members of each of our oratories.
To organize this Christmas party, various persons joined hand in hand for a bayanihan (spirit of unity for a common purpose), helping the religious priests, seminarians and sisters for this preparation. A team of mothers prepared food for the event; various households contributed gifts, toys, school supplies, and Bibles which are to be distributed to the mostly poor children. Meanwhile, another group of children were prepared to present the story of Nativity. This called for times of rehearsals, preparation of costumes, of which the children and their parents happily joined. This help is, above all, a gift from the Divine Providence of which we are very grateful.
After the stage has been set and the field was cleared, the children started to gather in numbers. The excitement was so high, paving the way for a festive atmosphere. We prepared various games for the children. They spent all their energies playing with endless cheers and laughter. The children also prepared their own presentations, and here comes the much-awaited Nativity Play. The children were dressed like the Bible characters, the angels and the Holy Family. The parents are more excited than the actors themselves. The moment their child appeared in front, there was a surge of people with camera, trying to capture their child as an angel, or one of the Holy Family. Of course, some mothers were teary-eyed, especially when their little boy acted as the infant Jesus. Such an honor they consider it.
At the end of the event, the children were sent home but not without something. In San Sebastian, an owner of big supermarket donated bags of grocery items. These were happily received by the families, most of them are poor people living on slum areas. Children in San Celestino happily received children version of the Holy Bible, giving them a complete picture of the Salvation History. School supplies and personal gifts were given to the poor children of San Lorenzo Ruiz donated by various families. The children went home joyful and contented and we feel rewarded with their smiles.
We commend these works to Mary, the Mother of God who nurtured Jesus in her womb for nine months. May she in turn nurture us with her motherly love, making us grow more in virtues especially this coming season of Christmas.