MANILA - On the eve of Christmas, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III exhorted the nation to "show the light and hope of Christ" in the wake of back-to-back calamities that, he said, tested the limits of millions of Filipinos this year.
In his traditional Christmas message, the president said this year's Christmas should be a "reminder of how God so loved the world."
Saying Christmas reminded everyone of what Christianity is all about, Aquino said that God showed love when He offered "His only begotten Son for the salvation of everyone."
"This Christmas, let us keep alive the flame of Christ's love. Let us serve as a source of hope for our fellow Filipinos," he said.
The president, who visited disaster-stricken areas in Visayas and Mindanao on Sunday, also pointed to the resilience that Filipinos all over the world are known for.
"Like the Star of Bethlehem that served as an inspiration for the Three Kings, our fellow Filipinos affected by recent tragedies gave us inspiration and hope," he said, noting that tragedies failed to break the spirit of the survivors.
Most expect happy Christmas
Despite the deadly disasters, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on said that its nationwide survey earlier this month found that 62 per cent of Filipinos expected a happy Christmas-down slightly from 64 per cent in 2012 and 2011.
Those expecting a sad Christmas in 2013 stood at only nine per cent, the same level as last year, according to the survey results.
The SWS said that in the Visayas, which bore the brunt of the disasters, the number of people expecting a sad Christmas rose to 11 per cent this year from 7 per cent last year. It did not give a reason for the increase. Those in the central islands expecting a happy Christmas fell to 57 per cent this year from 66 per cent last year.