Christmas is a time for gift-giving, sharing and normally, spending time with the family.
In Davao City, this is also the time when those who have more share their blessings with those who have less.
“Think of people in need this Christmas,” was Mayor Inday Sara Duterte’s reminder to every Dabawenyo as they celebrate Christmas this year.
This summarizes what Pasko Fiesta in the city is all about.
Davao City celebrates Pasko Fiesta, a month-long celebration of the holiday season, every year. The celebration starts on December 1, and is characterized by various activities and competitions aimed to light up every nook and cranny of the city.
“I hope that we will not forget our brothers and sisters who are experiencing hardships this time,” she said.
Mayor Inday’s message of hope and sharing signalled the celebration of the Christmas season in the city, not just for the city-dwellers, but most especially for children and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) or Lumads who have made it a tradition to visit the urban areas during Christmas.
However, the city government realized the challenges faced by the Lumads every Christmas as they are temporarily uprooted from their communities where they are supposed to share the spirit of the season with each other.
Add to that the challenge of going through the maze of vehicular traffic and the difficulty of living in the shelter areas.
While city-dwellers can enjoy the four areas established by the city for Christmas activities, namely Rizal Park, People’s Park, Magsaysay Park, and the City Hall area, the Lumads can still share in the celebration without braving the usual challenges of going to the urban area.
“We are bringing Christmas to the hinterlands,” City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) Chief Ma. Luisa Bermudo said.
From December 7 to 20, concerned agencies of the city government will visit 9 barangays in the city’s hinterlands to spearhead activities and to give them their Christmas presents.
For 14 days, Lumads living in Upper Kibalang, Suwawan and Salumay in Marilog District, Panyalum, Panaga and Malabog in Paquibato District and Upper Mapula, Paquibato District, Tambobong in Baguio District will be able to celebrate Christmas everyday.
As early as last month, city officials have coordinated with the datus, barangay captains, tribal leaders and deputy mayors of these areas to come up with a master list of the beneficiaries of the Pasko Fiesta para sa Lumads.
Every day for 14 days, the city will provide food packs to each family on the master list and have received a ration card. The food packs contain two kilos of rice, two cans of sardines and two packs of noodles.
The lumads will also be able to enjoy various activities during the season, including the healthcare day, tribal games day, and children’s day
Since the Pasko Fiesta para sa Lumads started last week, the city has already served and given joy to around 20,000 lumads in the hinterlands. Around a thousand lumads from outside Davao City have also received Christmas joy and blessings from the city.
The next time you walk along the City Hall drive and you see the area illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights, remember that the true spirit of Christmas for every Dabawenyo is how the happiness is shared not just to city dwellers, but most importantly to the city’s 11 tribes. CIO