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GMA STARTS FURLOUGH, RE-ARRANGES CHRISTMAS DECORS AT HOME


DECEMBER 23 -ARROYO
(updated) Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (MB FILE) Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (MB FILE) Starting off her first of three days of relative freedom Wednesday, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo quickly directed a re-arrangement of the Christmas decorations at her house this morning.Heavily guarded by Philippine National Police security personnel, Arroyo, who wore a neck brace, was escorted out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center at exactly 8 am Wednesday. Joining the former chief executive in the 20-minute travel to her La Vista was husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, legal adviser Larry Gadon and her attending physician, Dr. Martha Nocom. Also in the Coaster was Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, aunt of President Benigno Aquino III who was responsible for his predecessor’s four years in strict hospital detention. Kashiwahara, younger sister of Aquino’s father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., is a close friend of Arroyo. Following a Supreme Court ruling, Arroyo will spend three days with her family at their home in La Vista, a posh subdivision in Quezon City. The High Court also approved another three day furlough for the former chief executive starting January 30 to give her the opportunity to be with her family for the New Year’s Day celebration. The Arroyo family will host close friends and relatives, close congressional allies and former Cabinet officials in a dinner scheduled last night. READ MORE...

ALSO Highest in 12 years: 72% of Pinoys expect happy Christmas – SWS


DECEMBER 25 -A family celebrates the traditional Noche Buena beside a lantern display in Rizal Park yesterday. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN
- Despite calamities that hit the country this year, seven in 10 Filipinos still expect a happy Christmas, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed. The SWS poll, taken from Dec. 5 to 8, found 72 percent of adult Filipinos expecting this Christmas to be happy, seven percent were sad and 20 percent neither happy nor sad. This is the highest Christmas happiness score in 12 years, since the 77 percent in 2003, the SWS noted in its fourth quarter survey. Malacañang noted the expectation of happiness returned to the 70s level last year after being in the 60s from 2004 to 2013. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement: “May this optimism energize and encourage all of us to truly serve our country and work together so that all Filipinos will experience peace, prosperity and contentment in the year to come.”  In 2014, expectation of a happy Christmas was at 71 percent. The SWS first surveyed people’s expectation of a happy Christmas in 2002, when it scored an all-time high of 82 percent. The December 2015 survey also showed a record-high 77 percent saying “It is better to give,” and 20 percent saying “It is better to receive.”  The one-point rise in the expectation of a happy Christmas was due to increases of five points in Metro Manila from 64 percent in 2014 to 69 percent in 2015; five points in the Visayas, 72 percent to 77 percent; and five points in Mindanao, 71 percent to 76 percent, the pollster explained. However, it declined by two points in Luzon from 72 percent to 70 percent. Expectation of a happy Christmas rose among the poor or class E from 65 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, the highest in 22 years since the 75 percent in 2003. It stayed at 72 percent in class D or the masa (masses) from 2014 to 2015 – still the highest since 78 percent in 2003. However, it fell by five points in class ABC, from the record-high 81 percent last year to 76 percent in 2015. Expectation of a happy Christmas is highest among the youth, jumping by eight points among 18-24 years old from 74 to 82 percent – the highest in 22 years since the 82 percent in 2003. READ MORE...

ALSO Remember the Christmas message: Mercy and peace - Tagle


DECEMBER 25 -In every community, generous hearts find more ways to share their blessings. In every home, families come together to celebrate the wonderful season. In the Catholic Church, the Faithful are reminded that “Christmas is about opening our hearts to welcome Jesus in the hungry, homeless, and those who have hurt us.” The words come from Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who looks at Christmas as a season not only to welcome Jesus but also other people into one’s hearts and lives. “As Christmas is about the heavens opening so the Son of God could come to us, so it is also about us opening our hearts and arms to welcome Jesus in the hungry, thirsty, homeless, the naked, the sick the prisoners and those who have hurt us,” Tagle said in his Christmas message. For the Catholic Church, this year’s Christmas celebration falls within the Holy Year of Mercy, which was declared by Pope Francis. At the same time, the Philippine Catholic Church is also celebrating the Year of the Family and the Eucharist. Tagle said that mercy keeps the heart of God open to the people and is the key also to open their own hearts. “Mercy consists in this: God always has room for each one of us in His heart. In Jesus´ birth we human beings have been offered a permanent place in God´s sacred space,’’ Tagle said. For God, he said, “Mercy is the assurance that everyone can return to the Father´s house and find a secure dwelling.” IRONY OF CHRISTMAS The cardinal, on the other hand, also cited the irony of Christmas, which he considers a “great manifestation of God’s mercy,” was when Jesus was born on a manger in Bethlehem. “There was no room in the inns for him. A lowly stable welcomed the birth of the Messiah. Christmas therefore is a season to welcome Jesus and to welcome other people into our hearts and lives,” Tagle said. “Christmas is contrary to exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, neglect, indifference, manipulation and rejection of peoples, especially the poor and helpless. These manifest the lack of mercy,” he pointed out. REMINDER OF GOD’S MERCY “Christmas is a reminder of God’s mercy,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said in his Christmas message. “With the birth of Jesus, we come to know that God the Father is always there for us even if we fail Him, or rebel against Him. God stays with us. God is always available. In every situation and condition in our life, God is not away, never absent. With God’s mercy, He awaits and welcomes us.” POPE’S MESSAGE AT 6 TONIGHT Catholics from around the world await Pope Francis’ third papal address and apostolic blessing at noon today (6 p.m. Manila time) from the central balcony of the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Part of the blessing is the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the papal blessing. READ MORE...

ALSO: The grace behind Filipino gift-giving


DECEMBER 25 -THE REASON FOR THE SEASON This magnificently lighted “belen” at the home of Alex Cruz in Filinvest East, Cainta, Rizal province, depicts the traditional scene at the birth of Jesus Christ. AUGUST DELA CRUZ
WHY DO people feel compelled to give gifts on Christmas? Is it really the thought that counts? Why do some people feel uncomfortable about certain presents? Are Filipinos naturally inclined to give gifts? Four experts shared their thoughts on the psychology of gift-giving among Filipinos this holiday season. Filipinos, according to sociologist Niño Tobias, have the propensity to be more generous, especially during Christmas. “We want to make other people happy,” he said. This trait, which is primarily reflected by our hospitality culture, trickles down to how we celebrate the holiday season, he added. “Hospitality is a way of sharing yourself with other people. We enjoy giving, that’s why Christmas in the Philippines is exaggerated. You see, even the poor will spend just so he can give,” said Tobias, a sociology professor at University of Santo Tomas. Giving is also a Filipino’s “expression of love,” heightened during Christmas because Filipinos are predominantly Catholic and believe that they are celebrating the birth of Christ, who was God’s best gift to the world, explained Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr., an official of the Manila Archdiocese’s commission on liturgy. Arada cited the earliest link between gift-giving and Christmas as the birth of Christ in a manger when the Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings, gave the Infant Jesus the best gifts they saw fit for a king: frankincense, gold and myrrh. God’s grace “Christmas gift-giving is special for Filipinos,” the priest said. “On other occasions, we call the gifts regalo. But during the Christmas season, the correct term for gifts becomes aguinaldo, which refers to the imitation of God’s grace. God gives us grace.” And this divine link explains why Filipinos are “generous gift-givers,” Arada said. Agreed Cid Terosa, vice dean of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics: “Filipinos always aim for the best when they give. Most of the time, they give what their recipients value the most. We tend to please.”  Neuropsychologist Danilo Tuazon, who believes that human beings are naturally selfish, however explained that even without the spiritual aspect of Christmas, gift-giving has always been one of the five “expressions of emotions.”  The other four are touch, time, service and words of affirmation. People in general give gifts because their brain is telling them to share what they have, Tuazon said. “This makes givers feel good about themselves.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Youth volunteers ‘Freedom Voyage’ to Spratlys pushes through


DECEMBER 26 -Spratlys archipelago
After being delayed for more than half a month, the planned “Freedom Voyage” by a group of youth volunteers to the disputed Spratlys archipelago finally pushed through on Christmas Eve.
Government authorities earlier objected to the voyage for security reasons. Vera Joy Ban-eg, “Kalayaan Atin Ito” (KAI) co-convenor, said as of yesterday, the group, headed by former Marine captain Nicanor Faeldon, was on its way to the vicinity of the Chinese-occupied Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, an obscure maritime feature Beijing has transformed into an artificial island. Since the government does not sanction the trip, KAI allowed only 46 of the 10,000 student volunteers to join the historic “patriotic journey.”  The group, aboard a boat, left Buliluyan Point yesterday for Pag-Asa Island. They will be staying on the island for three days, Bag-eg said. She said the previous KAI plan to visit all the seven islets in the Spratlys was readjusted due to time constraints, as the voyage had been delayed. Ban-eg did not explain how the voyage pushed through despite disapproval by the defense and military establishments and the Philippine Coast Guard. “We expect the group to be back to mainland Palawan on Dec. 30. The rest of the volunteers who could no longer be accommodated in the boat are at our campsite to act as a support group,” Ban-eg said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Yule chill comes late in Baguio


DECEMBER 27 -Baguio’s signature December chill finally came three days before Christmas
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Though somewhat late, Baguio’s signature December chill finally came three days before Christmas.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Baguio City monitored the biggest dip so far at 13 degrees Celsius at dawn on Dec. 22. Last year, temperatures here began to drop as early as Dec. 17. Yesterday, a day after Christmas, government weather forecaster Danny Galate said the temperature went up to 16 degrees Celsius but projected it will again drop in the coming days. The dip in temperature was welcomed by thousands of tourists who escaped the lowland heat and headed to the vacation capital for the holidays. Meanwhile, Emerita Albas, Protected Area Superintendent of the Mt. Pulag Park Management, advised all trekkers to this mountain-climbing destination to bring sufficient warm clothing to avoid hypothermia following a report that frost occurred on Christmas night and Saturday morning. Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet is the second highest peak in the country, next to Mt. Apo. It is famous for its breathtaking view of sunrise amid a sea of clouds. THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

GMA starts furlough, re-arranges Christmas decors at home


ARROYO

MANILA, DECEMBER 28, 2015 (PHILSTAR) by Ben Rosario December 23, 2015 (updated) Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (MB FILE) Former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (MB FILE) Starting off her first of three days of relative freedom Wednesday, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo quickly directed a re-arrangement of the Christmas decorations at her house this morning.

Heavily guarded by Philippine National Police security personnel, Arroyo, who wore a neck brace, was escorted out of the Veterans Memorial Medical Center at exactly 8 am Wednesday. Joining the former chief executive in the 20-minute travel to her La Vista was husband, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, legal adviser Larry Gadon and her attending physician, Dr. Martha Nocom.

Also in the Coaster was Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara, aunt of President Benigno Aquino III who was responsible for his predecessor’s four years in strict hospital detention. Kashiwahara, younger sister of Aquino’s father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., is a close friend of Arroyo.

Following a Supreme Court ruling, Arroyo will spend three days with her family at their home in La Vista, a posh subdivision in Quezon City. The High Court also approved another three day furlough for the former chief executive starting January 30 to give her the opportunity to be with her family for the New Year’s Day celebration.

The Arroyo family will host close friends and relatives, close congressional allies and former Cabinet officials in a dinner scheduled last night.

READ MORE...


The white coaster, where former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is carried, exits the Veterans Memorial MEdical Center, Decemebr 23 2015, after the supreme court allowed her to leave hospital detention for six days to spend Christmas and New Year holidays at her home in Quezon City. (Mark Balmores) The white coaster, where former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is carried, exits the Veterans Memorial MEdical Center, Decemebr 23 2015, after the supreme court allowed her to leave hospital detention for six days to spend Christmas and New Year holidays at her home in Quezon City. (Mark Balmores)

 “She wanted the Christmas decors to suit her taste. Friends and close relatives will join her in a thanksgiving Mass tonight,” Gadon said.

Lawyer Laurence Arroyo lauded the SC decision to grant his client six day furlough for the holidays. “Hopefully her health will somehow improve during the few days of furlough. Let me just emphasize that to this day the law presumes her innocent and that she is not a flight risk and that the PCSO directors with whom she allegedly conspired have been acquitted together with COA Chairman Villar,” the Arroyo attorney said.


PHILSTAR

Highest in 12 years: 72% of Pinoys expect happy Christmas – SWS By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 25, 2015 - 12:00am 2 4 googleplus0 0


A family celebrates the traditional Noche Buena beside a lantern display in Rizal Park yesterday. MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

MANILA, Philippines - Despite calamities that hit the country this year, seven in 10 Filipinos still expect a happy Christmas, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The SWS poll, taken from Dec. 5 to 8, found 72 percent of adult Filipinos expecting this Christmas to be happy, seven percent were sad and 20 percent neither happy nor sad.

This is the highest Christmas happiness score in 12 years, since the 77 percent in 2003, the SWS noted in its fourth quarter survey.

Malacañang noted the expectation of happiness returned to the 70s level last year after being in the 60s from 2004 to 2013.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement: “May this optimism energize and encourage all of us to truly serve our country and work together so that all Filipinos will experience peace, prosperity and contentment in the year to come.”

In 2014, expectation of a happy Christmas was at 71 percent.

The SWS first surveyed people’s expectation of a happy Christmas in 2002, when it scored an all-time high of 82 percent.

The December 2015 survey also showed a record-high 77 percent saying “It is better to give,” and 20 percent saying “It is better to receive.”

The one-point rise in the expectation of a happy Christmas was due to increases of five points in Metro Manila from 64 percent in 2014 to 69 percent in 2015; five points in the Visayas, 72 percent to 77 percent; and five points in Mindanao, 71 percent to 76 percent, the pollster explained.

However, it declined by two points in Luzon from 72 percent to 70 percent.

Expectation of a happy Christmas rose among the poor or class E from 65 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, the highest in 22 years since the 75 percent in 2003.

It stayed at 72 percent in class D or the masa (masses) from 2014 to 2015 – still the highest since 78 percent in 2003.

However, it fell by five points in class ABC, from the record-high 81 percent last year to 76 percent in 2015.

Expectation of a happy Christmas is highest among the youth, jumping by eight points among 18-24 years old from 74 to 82 percent – the highest in 22 years since the 82 percent in 2003.

READ MORE...

It rose by two points among 25-34 years old, from 72 percent to 74 percent, the highest since 79 percent in 2003.

It also increased by two points among 55 years and above, from 71 percent to 73 percent in 2015 – also the highest in 22 years, since the 78 percent in 2003 for this age group.

Expectation of a happy Christmas stayed at 70 percent among 35-44 years old from 2014 to 2015, still the highest since 73 percent in 2003.

It stayed at 66 percent among 45-54 years old from 2014 to 2015, similar to the 67 percent in 2012.

Expectation of a happy Christmas rose across all education brackets, with college graduates at 80 percent in 2015 from 73 percent last year.

It increased among non-elementary graduates at 75 percent from 69 percent.

Expectation of a happy Christmas also went up among elementary graduates from 72 to 73 percent in 2015.

It rose among high school graduates from 69 to 70 percent in 2014.

The survey used face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide, 300 each in Metro Manila and 900 in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

It has sampling error margins of plus or minus three percentage points for national percentages and plus or minus six percentage points each for Metro Manila, balance of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.


MANILA BULLETIN

Remember the Christmas message: Mercy and peace by Raymund F. Antonio December 25, 2015 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share13 The spirit of Christmas stills the world today.

In every community, generous hearts find more ways to share their blessings. In every home, families come together to celebrate the wonderful season. In the Catholic Church, the Faithful are reminded that “Christmas is about opening our hearts to welcome Jesus in the hungry, homeless, and those who have hurt us.”

The words come from Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who looks at Christmas as a season not only to welcome Jesus but also other people into one’s hearts and lives.

“As Christmas is about the heavens opening so the Son of God could come to us, so it is also about us opening our hearts and arms to welcome Jesus in the hungry, thirsty, homeless, the naked, the sick the prisoners and those who have hurt us,” Tagle said in his Christmas message.

For the Catholic Church, this year’s Christmas celebration falls within the Holy Year of Mercy, which was declared by Pope Francis. At the same time, the Philippine Catholic Church is also celebrating the Year of the Family and the Eucharist.

Tagle said that mercy keeps the heart of God open to the people and is the key also to open their own hearts.

“Mercy consists in this: God always has room for each one of us in His heart. In Jesus´ birth we human beings have been offered a permanent place in God´s sacred space,’’ Tagle said.

For God, he said, “Mercy is the assurance that everyone can return to the Father´s house and find a secure dwelling.”

IRONY OF CHRISTMAS

The cardinal, on the other hand, also cited the irony of Christmas, which he considers a “great manifestation of God’s mercy,” was when Jesus was born on a manger in Bethlehem.

“There was no room in the inns for him. A lowly stable welcomed the birth of the Messiah. Christmas therefore is a season to welcome Jesus and to welcome other people into our hearts and lives,” Tagle said.

“Christmas is contrary to exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, neglect, indifference, manipulation and rejection of peoples, especially the poor and helpless. These manifest the lack of mercy,” he pointed out.

REMINDER OF GOD’S MERCY

“Christmas is a reminder of God’s mercy,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said in his Christmas message.

“With the birth of Jesus, we come to know that God the Father is always there for us even if we fail Him, or rebel against Him. God stays with us. God is always available. In every situation and condition in our life, God is not away, never absent. With God’s mercy, He awaits and welcomes us.”

POPE’S MESSAGE AT 6 TONIGHT

Catholics from around the world await Pope Francis’ third papal address and apostolic blessing at noon today (6 p.m. Manila time) from the central balcony of the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy. Part of the blessing is the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the papal blessing.

READ MORE...

The Church celebrates Christmas this year within the Holy Year of Mercy (Dec. 8, 2015 – Nov. 20, 2016).

PEACE

More than the tradition of giving and receiving gifts, Christmas brings real peace to the people, Bishop Noel Pantoja, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, said in his Christmas message.

“This transcendent peace is also most important because it opens our hearts and minds to the reality of peace beyond what this world gives,” he said.

The bishop, in his Christmas message, looked back on the story of Christmas, which is about “peace on earth,” when Jesus was born.

“The Christmas story tells us that God’s peace became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Through Jesus, the peace of God became immanent – with us. This immanent peace is the Peace of Christ, characterized by love. The public expression of this love is justice. The Peace of Christ is justice-based,” Pantoja added.

TRANSFORM THE ORDINARY

Christmas can “transform the ordinary to extraordinary, and the nobody to somebody,” which was experienced by the shepherds during the birth of Jesus, is the message of the World Evangelical Alliance.

“These outcasts in society were transformed as they were chosen to be the first persons to receive the news of the birth of Christ, and having believed such message, they also turned out to be the first heralds of this Gospel message. That message is that everyone has reason to rejoice because Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born on that day,” said Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance.

He said that the people must recognize the reason why Jesus was born in order that the transformation would happen. (With a report from Christina I. Hermoso)


INQUIRER

The grace behind Filipino gift-giving By: Aie Balagtas See @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:55 AM December 25th, 2015


THE REASON FOR THE SEASON This magnificently lighted “belen” at the home of Alex Cruz in Filinvest East, Cainta, Rizal province, depicts the traditional scene at the birth of Jesus Christ. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

WHY DO people feel compelled to give gifts on Christmas? Is it really the thought that counts? Why do some people feel uncomfortable about certain presents? Are Filipinos naturally inclined to give gifts?

Four experts shared their thoughts on the psychology of gift-giving among Filipinos this holiday season.

Filipinos, according to sociologist Niño Tobias, have the propensity to be more generous, especially during Christmas.

“We want to make other people happy,” he said. This trait, which is primarily reflected by our hospitality culture, trickles down to how we celebrate the holiday season, he added.

“Hospitality is a way of sharing yourself with other people. We enjoy giving, that’s why Christmas in the Philippines is exaggerated. You see, even the poor will spend just so he can give,” said Tobias, a sociology professor at University of Santo Tomas.

Giving is also a Filipino’s “expression of love,” heightened during Christmas because Filipinos are predominantly Catholic and believe that they are celebrating the birth of Christ, who was God’s best gift to the world, explained Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr., an official of the Manila Archdiocese’s commission on liturgy.

Arada cited the earliest link between gift-giving and Christmas as the birth of Christ in a manger when the Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings, gave the Infant Jesus the best gifts they saw fit for a king: frankincense, gold and myrrh.

God’s grace

“Christmas gift-giving is special for Filipinos,” the priest said. “On other occasions, we call the gifts regalo. But during the Christmas season, the correct term for gifts becomes aguinaldo, which refers to the imitation of God’s grace. God gives us grace.”

And this divine link explains why Filipinos are “generous gift-givers,” Arada said.

Agreed Cid Terosa, vice dean of the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Economics: “Filipinos always aim for the best when they give. Most of the time, they give what their recipients value the most. We tend to please.”

Neuropsychologist Danilo Tuazon, who believes that human beings are naturally selfish, however explained that even without the spiritual aspect of Christmas, gift-giving has always been one of the five “expressions of emotions.”

The other four are touch, time, service and words of affirmation.

People in general give gifts because their brain is telling them to share what they have, Tuazon said. “This makes givers feel good about themselves.”

READ MORE...

He explained: “Gift-giving is basically an expression of the brain…. To express your love you have to do something about it. Love has its own neuro pressure in the brain and no matter what, [love] must come out,” he added.

Ironically, the neuropsychologist said, despite everyone having emotions, not everyone wants to give or receive gifts.

Form of business

“We all have different expressions of emotions,” Tuazon said. “The danger is when you give gifts to someone who does not feel comfortable receiving them. Not that the person is ungrateful or unappreciative. It’s just that his or her brain is not wired to understand gifts as a form of love.”

Because that recipient is not comfortable with the gift-giving, “the tendency is for that person to want to reciprocate immediately, or what we call kaliwaan (give and take),” he said.

“The recipient would now feel pressured to give you something back. Primarily because of pressure in Filipino society, (he or she) feel that it’s against good manners not to give back. This makes gift-giving not a form of love, but a form of business,” he added.

When a giver refuses to understand the real needs of recipients and how they express their emotions, misunderstanding may set in, Tuazon said.

The culture of utang na loob (debt of gratitude) also worsens the kaliwaan culture, Arada said. Filipinos tend to give the best gifts to people they are most grateful to, sometimes even when they cannot afford it.

Tuazon confirmed this. “When utang na loob sets in, the receiver thinks: he thought of me so I should think of something for him too. Or else, nakakahiya (it would be embarrassing). The word hiya (shame or loss of face) is [more] a social pressure than a neuro one.”

Reciprocal approach

“That is wrong,” Arada said. “The concept should be to pay it forward, not to pay someone back.”

For Tobias, such a “reciprocal” approach could turn what used to be a “divine concept” of gift-giving into something materialistic, consumerist and opportunistic. The pressure to give something, he said, could slowly become ingrained in Filipino culture.

“There are expectations about those who have the capacity to provide and share. [The thinking becomes] ‘since you are more blessed, you’re supposed to share your blessings with other people.’ It’s a pressure among those who are required to give. So rather than lose face, they’d rather stay out of sight,” Tobias said, referring to the common practice among godparents to conveniently be out when their godchildren come calling.

The materialistic approach is evident as well in how parents and engaged couples choose their baptismal and wedding godparents, Tobias noted. Rather than choose people who can guide their spiritual growth, couples and parents now choose patrons based on their wealth, popularity and position.

“Why do you need 20 sets of godparents? Why choose your boss as a godparent? I’m not saying it has become a business, but [choice] has become material-based. The ninong and ninang now feel pressured to give something to their godchildren during Christmas,” he said, adding that giving is “both a strong point and a vulnerability among Filipinos.”

Indeed, Tuazon said, as time passes, the purpose behind gift-giving also changes, and has now evolved into a form of “investment.”

Santa Claus, not Jesus

Among practical-minded Filipinos, gift-giving has become a strategy to get “better services and more doors opened for better opportunities, or [a means] to strengthen or maintain good relationships,” he added.

“Now, gift-giving has becomes tainted with politics because of the coming election. Some give because they want to receive something back,” Arada said.

Tobias noted that cultural transmission and cultural imperialism had also influenced Filipinos to become materialistic. The best proof of this, he said, is that most stores or even Filipino homes have Santa Claus—not Jesus Christ—as a symbol for Christmas.

“[People] used to personally buy gifts to give during Christmas. Now, they just give cash,” he noted.

Still, Tobias conceded. “We genuinely give from the heart and pocket. Unlike in First World countries where money is rather easy, Filipinos work hard for the money so it’s no joke when they decide to give cash,” he said.

Multiplier effect

For Terosa, spending to impress is not all bad, especially when since money spent during the holiday season boosts the country’s economy.

“In general, consumption spending is good for the economy. It has a multiplier effect because it also generates production. People don’t just spend more, people also earn more,” he said.

The good news is that people now have more purchasing power and more choices to choose from. The bad news is, with bigger demand, “things become a bit more expensive,” the economics professor added.

“The biggest consideration is income,” Terosa said. “It’s whether or not you have the amount needed to buy gifts for your loved ones. The main difference is planning. Those with steady income can plan, while those who don’t become impulsive buyers as soon as the money comes in. The thing is, impulse buying may not be worth your money.”

To give better gifts, Tobias said, “[We] can enhance the present with good values.”

Hopefully, Arada said, Filipinos would see that the real meaning of gift-giving as “a mirror of God’s generosity.”


PHILSTAR

‘Freedom Voyage’ pushes through By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Spratlys archipelago

MANILA, Philippines – After being delayed for more than half a month, the planned “Freedom Voyage” by a group of youth volunteers to the disputed Spratlys archipelago finally pushed through on Christmas Eve.

Government authorities earlier objected to the voyage for security reasons.

Vera Joy Ban-eg, “Kalayaan Atin Ito” (KAI) co-convenor, said as of yesterday, the group, headed by former Marine captain Nicanor Faeldon, was on its way to the vicinity of the Chinese-occupied Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, an obscure maritime feature Beijing has transformed into an artificial island.

Since the government does not sanction the trip, KAI allowed only 46 of the 10,000 student volunteers to join the historic “patriotic journey.”

The group, aboard a boat, left Buliluyan Point yesterday for Pag-Asa Island. They will be staying on the island for three days, Bag-eg said.

She said the previous KAI plan to visit all the seven islets in the Spratlys was readjusted due to time constraints, as the voyage had been delayed.


Published on Nov 12, 2015 Kalayaan ATIN ITO is a group of 10,000 Filipino youth volunteers from the entire Philippine archipelago organized by themselves to peacefully support the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas as the basis in resolving the dispute at the Spratlys Group of Islands. SOURCE: CNN PHILIPPINES

Ban-eg did not explain how the voyage pushed through despite disapproval by the defense and military establishments and the Philippine Coast Guard.

“We expect the group to be back to mainland Palawan on Dec. 30. The rest of the volunteers who could no longer be accommodated in the boat are at our campsite to act as a support group,” Ban-eg said.

READ MORE...

KAI launched the Freedom Voyage, a year-old maritime and territorial campaign from Batanes and Tawi-Tawi, to peacefully protest China’s continuing aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

However, government authorities blocked the voyage, saying this might endanger the lives of the volunteers as the voyage included sailing through rough seas in the West Philippine Sea and the group might encounter Chinese vessels.

The group, numbering around 100, arrived in Puerto Princesa last month and established a camp at Barangay Buenavista near Ulugan Bay and searched for boats that would take them to visit the troops on the disputed islands.

Ulugan bay is now home to a newly established Navy camp fronting the West Philippine Sea.

Faeldon had attempted to protest against the Chinese occupation of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal but President Aquino prevailed upon him not to push through with the protest at the time even as his group was already preparing to leave Zambales in May 2010.


PILSTAR

Yule chill comes late in Baguio By Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 27, 2015 - 12:00am 14 72 googleplus0 0


Baguio’s signature December chill finally came three days before Christmas

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Though somewhat late, Baguio’s signature December chill finally came three days before Christmas.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Baguio City monitored the biggest dip so far at 13 degrees Celsius at dawn on Dec. 22. Last year, temperatures here began to drop as early as Dec. 17.

Yesterday, a day after Christmas, government weather forecaster Danny Galate said the temperature went up to 16 degrees Celsius but projected it will again drop in the coming days.

The dip in temperature was welcomed by thousands of tourists who escaped the lowland heat and headed to the vacation capital for the holidays.

Meanwhile, Emerita Albas, Protected Area Superintendent of the Mt. Pulag Park Management, advised all trekkers to this mountain-climbing destination to bring sufficient warm clothing to avoid hypothermia following a report that frost occurred on Christmas night and Saturday morning.

Mt. Pulag in Kabayan, Benguet is the second highest peak in the country, next to Mt. Apo. It is famous for its breathtaking view of sunrise amid a sea of clouds.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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