MUSLIM REFUGEES IN ZAMBOANGA OBSERVE CHRISTMAS WITH HOPE

Despite the trauma, hardship and uncertainties, most of those who stay in the congested evacuation center at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex here still look forward to a joyous Christmas. “We are Tausugs but we celebrate Christmas every year,” Radzma Abubakar, 40, said.

ALSO:  Bonding time, too, in Zamboanga shelter

Despite the trauma, hardship and uncertainties caused by the three-week standoff between government soldiers and forces of the Moro National Liberation Front in September, evacuees staying in the congested shelter at Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex in Zamboanga City still look forward to a joyous Christmas.

ALSO: Papal Nuncio celebrates Christmas Eve Mass in Palo, Leyte (VIDEO)

The Papal Nuncio, Vatican's envoy to the Philippines Guiseppe Pinto, led the Christmas Eve Mass at Palo Cathedral in Leyte bringing with him a message of hope from Pope Francis. Pinto arrived in Tacloban to spend Christmas with survivors of super typhoon Yolanda. Aside from celebrating the midnight Mass at Palo Cathedral, Pinto will also celebrate Mass at Sto. Niño Parish on Christmas Day. In his homily, Archbishop John Du reminded the people that they have a lot to be thankful of, especially after the disaster that hit their province. "Our Christmas does not depend on what we have, on what he have prepared," he said. He also said that the typhoon may be God's way of making the people appreciate the little things that we often take for granted before. "Because of Yolanda, we saw the importance of our families, our friends, as well as small things like electricity, or water supply," the archbishop added.

ALSO: Pope Francis marks first Christmas as Pope

Pope Francis marks his first Christmas as leader of the world’s Roman Catholics on Tuesday and Wednesday, with crowds of pilgrims expected to attend the annual celebrations in the Vatican. “Like the Virgin Mary, the Church this week is expecting a birth,” the Pope said on Monday in the homily at one of his daily Masses in the Vatican residence, where he has been staying since his election in March. “Is there space for the Lord or is there space only for parties, shopping and making noise?” he asked. The Christmas festivities begin at 1530 GMT (11:30 p.m. in Manila) with the unveiling on St. Peter’s Square of a traditional Nativity scene named in honor of Latin America’s first ever Pontiff.

VIDEO: DIVISORIA STILL PACKED MINUTES BEFORE CHRISTMAS 12/25/2013


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Muslim refugees in Zamboanga observe Christmas with hope


Residents living along the coast near the area of a stand-off between the Philippine military and Muslim gunmen take shelter at a sports complex used as a temporary evacuation center in Zamboanga on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on September 11, 2013. Muslim militants were using 180 residents as “human shields” on September 10, Philippine officials said, as they traded gunfire with troops amid burning houses during a standoff after a deadly attack on a southern city. AFP/ TED ALJIBE

ZAMBOANGA CITY, DECEMBER 25, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Julie S. Alipala Inquirer Mindanao - Despite the trauma, hardship and uncertainties, most of those who stay in the congested evacuation center at the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex here still look forward to a joyous Christmas.

“We are Tausugs but we celebrate Christmas every year,” Radzma Abubakar, 40, said.

Abubakar is among the refugees from the fighting between the Philippine military and Moro National Liberation Front fighters that erupted last September 9 when MNLF fighters led by Habier Malik and believed to be loyal followers of founder Nur Misuari attacked the city and attempted to take over government offices. Government forces won the battle, effectively flushing out MNLF troops weeks later. Malik has been missing since and some military officials believe he is dead.

However, as a result of the conflict, many homes were burned to the ground during the fighting, prompting dozens of families to seek refuge in evacuation centers in the city. They are still waiting for government assistance to rebuild their homes or resettle elsewhere somewhere in the city.

“Since I was born, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the birth of my mother,” Radzma said. Her mother, Adelina Samonteraryo, will turn 78 on Christmas day, Wednesday.

“Every year we decorate our own house. We prepare special food and we offer that to our mother,” she added. Adelina’s father is a Christian, but Radzma was brought up a Muslim.

“We were raised as Muslims, but we respect my father’s beliefs as a Christian,” she said. She said their mother taught all her 13 children that Christmas was not about gift-giving, but about the family being together.

“What’s important is that we are healthy,” she said. Radzma said her mother has been looking forward to eating buco (coconut) salad.

“I had a cake made. My other siblings brought pancit and chicken,” she said.

Julie Sarapuddin and his wife Anelda, who have also been living in the evacuation center since October, said they got a sack of rice as payment for Anelda’s sweeping roads and clearing drainage in the village of Tugbungan.

Originally from the village of Mariki, the Sarapuddins were benefiaries of the World Food Programme’s food-for-work project. They remember in past Christmases when their house was filled with decorations.

“Now, we hang clothes,” Anelda said as she pointed to the clothes’ line outside her tent.

Although Tausugs, the Sarapuddins started celebrating Christmas for their grandchildren, who learned about it in school. Last year, the family had spaghetti and fried chicken, and gift-giving.

This time, however, they would celebrate Christmas with “togetherness and being strong,” Julie said.

“There will be no food because we can’t afford it right now. What’s important is that the family is together. We should be strong because we might stay longer in the evacuation center,” Julie added.

Julie said the one sack of rice would be divided among his four children.

Sherinata Sariul, another evacuee, said the best gift she and her seven children would receive for Christmas would be the opportunity to move to a government-constructed bunkhouse.

Sherinata, a Samah Bangingi, teaches the children in the evacuation camp, getting P150 a day. She plans to buy toys and clothes for her seven children.

“I’m already happy with what we have here,” she said.

Like the Sarapuddins, Sherinata said her children learned about Christmas in school.

At night in the evacuation center, Badjaos go from one tent to another, singing their version of Christmas carols.

“Even if you give them one peso, they’re already happy. Some even dance for joy,” Sherinata said.

Sherinata said good health and a new home for her family have been her wishes.

“I hope President Aquino’s promise of housing units would come true. For us, that would be the best Christmas gift,” she said.

Bonding time, too, in Zamboanga shelter By Julie S. Alipala Inquirer Mindanao 10:16 pm | Tuesday, December 24th, 2013


HOLIDAY DECOR Radzma Abubakar and her child pose in front of their tent, the only one decorated with tinsel, at Don Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex in Zamboanga City. JULIE S. ALIPALA/INQUIRER MINDANAO

Despite the trauma, hardship and uncertainties caused by the three-week standoff between government soldiers and forces of the Moro National Liberation Front in September, evacuees staying in the congested shelter at Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex in Zamboanga City still look forward to a joyous Christmas.

“We are Tausug but we celebrate Christmas every year,” Radzma Abubakar, 40, said. “We have been celebrating the birth of Jesus and the birth of my mother, which falls on the same day, since I was a little girl.”

Radzma’s mother, Adelina Samonteraryo, whose father is a Christian, will turn 78 on Wednesday.

“We were raised as Muslims, but we respect my grandfather’s beliefs as a Christian,” Radzma said, adding that her mother taught all her 13 children that Christmas is not about gift-giving, but about families being together.

“I ordered a cake and my other siblings brought pancit and chicken. My mother is looking forward to eating buco (young coconut) salad,” she said.

Julie Sarapuddin and his wife Anelda have also been living in the evacuation center since October. Julie said his wife received a sack of rice as payment for sweeping the streets and cleaning drainage canals in the village of Tugbungan.

Food-for-work

Originally from the village of Mariki, the Sarapuddins are beneficiaries of the UN World Food Programme’s food-for-work project. They fondly remember past Christmases when their house was filled with holiday decor.

“Now, all we have hanging in our temporary home are clothes,” Anelda said, pointing to the clothes line outside her tent.

Like the Abubakars, the Sarapuddins are Tausugs who also celebrate Christmas, but mainly for their grandchildren who learned about the yearly Christian celebration in school. Last year, the family had spaghetti and fried chicken on their table and also gave gifts to each other.

This time, however, the couple, together with their four children will celebrate Christmas “by being strong together,” Julie said.

Family ties

“There will be no food because we can’t afford it right now. What’s important is that the family is together. We should be strong because we don’t know what lies ahead and how long we can stay here at the evacuation center,” he said.

Another evacuee, Sherinata Sariul, a member of the Samah Bangingi tribe, is paid P150 a day teaching children in the evacuation camp.

“I’m already happy with what we have here,” she said. With the money she earns, she plans to buy toys and clothes for her seven children.

Like the Sarapuddins, Sherinata said her children learned about Christmas in school.

Sherinata said all she wishes for Christmas is good health and a new home for her family.

Echoing a common sentiment among the evacuees, she said what she would like most is the opportunity to move with her family to a government housing project.

“I hope President Aquino’s promise of providing us houses will come true. For us, that would be the best Christmas gift ever,” she said.

FROM ABS-CBN


VIDEO: PAPAL NUNCIO HOLDS MASS IN LEYTE 12/25/2013 12:39 AM Ramdam pa rin ang diwa ng Pasko sa mga lugar na sinalanta ng bagyong “Yolanda” sa Leyte. Isang espesyal na misa rin ang idinaraos doon sa pangunguna ng Papal Nuncio mula sa Vatican na naghatid ng mensahe mula kay Pope Francis. Live mula sa Palo, Leyte magbabandila si Pia Gutierrez. Bandila, Disyembre 24, 2013, Martes

Papal Nuncio celebrates Christmas Eve Mass in Palo ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 12/25/2013 1:00 AM | Updated as of 12/25/2013 1:00 AM

MANILA -- The Papal Nuncio, Vatican's envoy to the Philippines Guiseppe Pinto, led the Christmas Eve Mass at Palo Cathedral in Leyte bringing with him a message of hope from Pope Francis.

Pinto arrived in Tacloban to spend Christmas with survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.

Aside from celebrating the midnight Mass at Palo Cathedral, Pinto will also celebrate Mass at Sto. Niño Parish on Christmas Day.

In his homily, Archbishop John Du reminded the people that they have a lot to be thankful of, especially after the disaster that hit their province.

"Our Christmas does not depend on what we have, on what he have prepared," he said.

He also said that the typhoon may be God's way of making the people appreciate the little things that we often take for granted before.

"Because of Yolanda, we saw the importance of our families, our friends, as well as small things like electricity, or water supply," the archbishop added.

"After the typhoon, we saw the importance of rice, of noodles, of sardines. We never gave importance to these things that are basic, and just simple things."

"Our lives have become so sophisticated and complicated, but what's important is that Jesus was born in our hearts," Du said.

The archbishop also thanked all the donors from different provinces and dioceses in the country, as well as those from abroad who are helping in the recovery of the province.

Earlier, Pinto went to an evacuation center in Kapangian Elementary School to give relief goods to typhoon survivors. He is set to inspect damaged churches in Tacloban City as well as in Tanauan and Palo, Leyte.

The papal nuncio was sent directly by Pope Francis to be one with the Yolanda survivors. He is expected to deliver the Christmas message of Pope Francis in his Mass.

Francis marks first Christmas as Pope Agence France-Presse 11:21 pm | Tuesday, December 24th, 2013


Pope Francis, AP Photo

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis marks his first Christmas as leader of the world’s Roman Catholics on Tuesday and Wednesday, with crowds of pilgrims expected to attend the annual celebrations in the Vatican.

“Like the Virgin Mary, the Church this week is expecting a birth,” the Pope said on Monday in the homily at one of his daily Masses in the Vatican residence, where he has been staying since his election in March.

“Is there space for the Lord or is there space only for parties, shopping and making noise?” he asked.

The Christmas festivities begin at 1530 GMT (11:30 p.m. in Manila) with the unveiling on St. Peter’s Square of a traditional Nativity scene named in honor of Latin America’s first ever Pontiff.

The 77-year-old Francis is expected to watch the ceremony from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the square and light a candle for peace.

From 2030 GMT (4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Manila time), the Argentine will celebrate the solemn Christmas Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Wednesday, Francis will deliver the “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the City and the World”) blessing at 1130 GMT (7 p.m., Manila time) on St. Peter’s Square—where he first appeared after his momentous election by fellow cardinals on March 13.

Popes often use their “Urbi et Orbi” blessings to announce specific prayers, for instance, for the victims of conflicts or for global economic justice.

VIDEO:


DIVISORIA STILL PACKED MINUTES BEFORE CHRISTMAS 12/25/2013 12:56 AM

Buhos pa rin ang tao sa Divisoria ilang minuto bago ang Pasko at tila doon na sasalubungin ng mga mamimmili ang Kapaskuhan. Bandila, Disyembre 24, 2013, Martes


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