On behalf of Mrs. Manalo and the Philippine Embassy family, I wish to convey to our kababayans my sincerest greetings for this Christmas season.
We Filipinos prid
e ourselves for what seems to be the world’s longest and most festive celebration of Christmas. Far as we may be from our morning tsokolate at puto bumbong, the beat of Christmas music blaring from giant sound systems and the bright display of our twinkling parols, our enthusiasm for the traditional Paskong Pilipino has not been dimmed within our community here in the UK.
Indeed it is heartwarming to note that our community here continues to practice many of the revered traditions as we prepare to welcome the birth of our Lord: from the crafting of the symbolic parols, to the devotion to the Simbang Gabi Novena masses and to the festive family gathering for the noche buena feast.
But beyond the sense of nostalgia and celebratory atmosphere that these holidays bring, I truly hope that all of us keep in our hearts the true essence of this season. I sincerely pray that, in commemorating the birth of Christ, His message of love, faith and hope will remain in our hearts and minds.
In this spirit, we look back at the year that is drawing to a close and reflect on the many gifts we have been blessed with.
As a country and as a people, we have much to be grateful for as the past year saw us thrive in the midst of the uncertainties and challenges on many fronts. Notwithstanding the widespread downturn, our economy remains resilient and growing and among the best in Asia. We view with much optimism the new path being forged that will hopefully see a lasting peace and abiding progress in southern Philippines in the light of the Framework Agreement reached this year. PH-UK relations have also prospered this year in many areas. The highlight this year was the Official Visit of President Aquino to UK last June, the increasing number of visits of high-level officials and business delegations from the UK to the Philippines and vice-versa, and the signing this month of a PH-UK Joint Plan of Action, are just some of the other positive events of PH-UK relations this past year.
We have also, however, have had to weather challenges from nature, most recently being Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) which wrought much damage in the Compostela Valley and the SOCCSKSARGEN region, with over a thousand fatalities. We draw strength as we see our people from across the globe reach back to help kababayans rise up from the ravages of floods and landslides. We continue to count on your prayers and generous spirit in this task of recovery. For those who are interested, please visit the Embassy website for the government avenues to channel any support you may wish to provide for the victims of this natural disaster.
Mga kababayan, we should look to this season with thankfulness and rejoicing.
The Embassy shall continue to be there to help and assist you. I also look forward to your continuing support of the Embassy’s efforts aimed at promoting the interests of the PH here in UK.
May joy and peace be in your hearts this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas and a bountiful new year. Maligayang Pasko at manigong bagong taon!
ENRIQUE A. MANALO
London, United Kingdom