PALACE  LAUDS  WORKERS  FOR  GIVING  UP  CHRISTMAS  PARTIES

MANILA, December 14, 2004
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - The "bayanihan" spirit lives on in the hearts of Filipinos.

President Arroyo gave credit to this long-time Philippine custom for the decision of many government and private offices to give up their Christmas parties and instead donate the funds to help residents of flood-ravaged provinces in northern Luzon.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye expressed Mrs. Arroyo’s gratitude for this display of outpouring community spirit in the midst of difficult times for mostly poor Filipinos, whose lives and homes were devastated by landslides wrought by recent storms.

"We are thankful for this kind of gesture. This is the ‘bayanihan’ spirit that prevails in many offices, both public and private," Bunye said.

"Those were the decisions of our affected employees. They were the ones who took the initiative and volunteered not to hold their Christmas party and give the amount that would otherwise be spent for the victims of the previous week’s calamity," he said.

"Bayanihan" is an old Philippine tradition of neighbors helping each other when one relocates by literally carrying the traditional Filipino house on stilts to its new location. From this, "bayanihan" generally became known as the spirit of communal unity and cooperation.

Meanwhile, even Cabinet officials canceled their Christmas party with the President in Malacañang on Dec. 21, and instead would only hear Mass with her.

Employees at the Office of the President have also decided to allot their Christmas party funds for the benefit of typhoon victims in Quezon and Aurora provinces.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita disclosed yesterday the 1,500-strong Malacañang employees working at the OP proper have informed him that they would forgo the traditional Christmas party.

Ermita told The STAR that as much as P600,000 to P700,000 are earmarked in the OP budget for the annual Christmas party of Palace officials and employees. The money is usually spent for food, raffle prizes and other expenses.

This year, the funds will be turned over to the National Disaster Coordinating Council to help augment its depleted calamity funds for relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas badly hit by the storms.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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