Manila Mayor Joseph Erap Estrada recently played Santa Claus to thousands of indigent families in the city as he hosted a whole-day Christmas gift-giving and concert at the Mehan Garden.
This served as the opening salvo of his grand “Pamaskong Handog” to some 100,000 poor families in Manila.
Saying he always had a soft heart for the poor, Estrada said last Friday’s “Pasko sa Lungsod ng Maynila” is especially dedicated to the city’s less privileged residents, “the Filipino masses” that he said have wholeheartedly supported him since he was an actor until he became a public servant. The event started with the traditional “Misa de Gallo” or dawn Mass at 4 a.m.
A feeding program for children and their parents at the Plaza Miranda in Quiapo followed the morning Mass, which was conducted in partnership with the Bantay Banta Foundation, said Liz Villasenor, head of the City Tourism Office.
Gift-giving activities were also held in Mehan Garden and other local institutions such as orphanages. The day was capped with a free concert at Mehan Garden, Villasenor added.
Manila Department of Social Welfare head Nanet Tanyag said Estrada has prepared Christmas gifts and food packs consisting of “noche Buena” items such as spaghetti and fruit salad.
About 100,000 indigents—adults, senior citizens, children, and street dwellers—have been targeted to receive the Christmas packs in the coming days, she said.
“It is during Christmas that I get to thank the Manileños, the poor residents, the ones who need the most attention and care, the masses that have supported me all this time,” Estrada said. “I hope that through this simple Christmas gift-giving activity, I was able to express my gratitude to each of them.”
Describing himself as a legitimate Manileño born in the slums of Tondo, Estrada remembered the “Asiong Salonga” character he portrayed in the iconic 1961 movie of the same name, as a defender of the poor and of the oppressed. When he entered politics, he said the masses continued to support him. Sandy Araneta
“This is a tradition of Mayor Estrada. It is his tradition to offer even a little so that our poor countrymen would be able to taste good food,” Tanyag said.
She said the city government will resume distributing Christmas food packs in the 896 barangays in the coming days until New Year’s Eve.