Christmas is really for children. And family. This was seen in Malacañang last Nov. 25 when President Bongbong Marcos and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos hosted a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Shrieks and shouts of joy from children—along with the chatter from adults—filled the Kalayaan Hall after the rain made it necessary to move the event indoors.
Heirs of past presidents, starting from the descendants of Emilio Aguinaldo, to the children of the present First Couple, were present. Many emotional events must have been remembered in this storied place, as its former occupants were present.
Former First Lady Loi Ejercito was graciously welcomed by current First Lady Liza Marcos. Former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was once called by the President his “secret weapon” during an APEC Summit in Thailand, was there, and I asked her about her Christmas memories in Malacañang.
“As a former First Daughter, I have many nostalgic stories about this place,” shared Arroyo. “However, my first Christmas when my father was president really took place in Mt. Data in 1962 where it was so cold!”
Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro said: “For me and my wife Nikki, Christmas is really about celebrating with children. Including children and families who do not have the means to really celebrate.”
Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto laughs: “Christmas is really meaningful when spent with family. And course, that is with my wife. My lovely wife, Vilma!”
As a former First Daughter, I have many nostalgic stories about this place,” shared Arroyo. “However, my first Christmas when my father was president really took place in Mt. Data in 1962 where it was so cold!
Delicious Filipino food was served by chef Florabel Yatco, who included both fiesta fare like lechon and barbecue, as well as favorite comfort food and street food like squid and fish balls, sisig, palabok, biko, suman, sago’t gulaman, halo-halo, and more. Christmas songs filled the hall, rendered by the “King of Philippine Christmas Carols” Jose Mari Chan, as well as Rita Daniela, the Coro de San Jacinto and the Cagayan State University Chorale.
Filipino creativity was celebrated as winners of the nationwide parol-making contest were announced. Chosen by a panel of judges led by architects Conrad Onglao and Mico Manalo, Heart Evangelista, Boy Abunda, and Fr. Rahnilio Aquino, the winners received cash prizes from PAGCOR and PCSO: Batangas State University, University of Northern Philippines and Bohol Island State University.
National leaders of different persuasions were there, having friendly exchanges on politics and renewing ties that bind. There were guests who had to leave ahead to fulfill other commitments despite the rain, including Speaker Martin Romualdez. Was VP Sara Duterte busy in another event?
Fireworks followed the lighting of the Christmas tree as viewed from the balcony. Were fireworks also in the hearts (recalling a famous Chinese drama) of the guests, perhaps a longing for joy and peace this Christmas?