By Elpidio Estioko
The traditional gift-giving during Christmas all over the world has begun!
As a tradition worldwide, Christmas holidays is the time for people to rejoice, have fun, bond together, feed the hungry, reunite, share blessings, exchange gifts, and enjoy each other’s company. Let’s not forget, however, that this is the time to renew our relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord with Simbang Gabi, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve activities. Actually, it’s a reflection and recollection of what we did and received during the year and what next we can do in the coming year.
Many believe the Christmas season/tradition started when the “ber’ months came. So basically, I would say I started the season on September 1, 2019 during my birthday. That day was a blessed day for me that signaled the Happy Holidays of the season and it was that day my wife Delia put up her Christmas tree and decorated it with village people and other Christmas decors.
While others say it is the most expensive time of the year with all the gifts under the tree not only for our family members but for relatives, godchildren (inaanak) and friends (BFFs), there are ways to celebrate it the frugal way… and still retaining the Christmas spirit. Instead of buying expensive gifts, for example, buy things that are cheap and useful the whole year round. After all, it is the giving that matters… and receiving is just a gesture of thankfulness.
The joy of giving should be the prevailing spirit this time of the year and… instead of lavish parties or get-togethers, do potlucks and serve inexpensive low-carb food.
As for the Global Urdanetanians (TGU), a non-profit organization based in Southern California, their Pamaskong Handog 2019 was held last Saturday, December 15, 2019 at the Urdaneta Central School Grounds benefitting 480 needy students, according to TGU local coordinator Raei Escudero in his report to TGU national president Yvonne San Juan-Sera.
To start the spirit of Christmas, a brief program was conducted. Urdaneta City Mayor Julio “Rammy” Parayno 111 graced the occasion by delivering his Christmas message; invocation was led by TGU scholar Jazel Castaneda, Pambansang Awit was led by TGU scholar Jerimae Benagen, welcome remarks by TGU local coordinator Raei Soliven-Escudero; short message about TGU by Dr. Fe “Mia” Sumera-Ranada; intermission number by TGU scholar Harold Mercado, a song rendered by UCS ’69 Zeny Fernandez Gallego; and the closing remarks was given by TGU Coordinator Elpidio Angeles, Jr… Parlor games, distribution of Jollibee food and money, and picture taking with the Jollibee mascot followed.
“This is another fun-filled sharing of blessings, merry making and giving wonderful time to 480 indigent kids of Poblacion, Urdaneta 1 Central School by charitable organization The Global Urdanetanians (TGU)! This is an event forever cherished with special guest of honor Mayor Mayor Julio F. Parayno 111,” San Juan-Sera said.
This year’s coordinators of Pamaskong Handog 2019 were Past Handog Pamasko Chairman Cynthia Cortez and husband Joe Cortez; Mr. and Mrs. Agapito de Gala; Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Calacsan; members of UCNHS Batch ’69 and Batch ’73; Elpidio Angles, Jr.; Elma Macalanda; Raie Soliven-Escudero; Armando Sanchez; Dr. Clare Adalem; Greta Manaois; and Dr. Fe “Mia” Sumera-Ranada in cooperation with school principal Robert Tababa and some 15 teachers of the Urdaneta Central School. Jessa Dioso, Jasmine Ranada, and Suzette Ranada also joined. The scholars who participated are Harold Mercado, Marvin Gabayan, Jazel Castaneda, Andrea Llemos, Ray Dulla, Donna Sibayan, Jayson Tabal, and Judith dela Cruz.
Giving back to the community is what The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) are known for this Christmas season. It’s their signature move, actually! While the non-profit organization is based in Southern California its reach is global with membership all over the world who claim their roots from Urdaneta, a city in Pangasinan. Foremost of the giving back to the community projects are the scholarship program, the Help the Kids Program or Handog Pamasko, and the Medical/Dental services or Alay Pangkalusugan extended to residents of Urdaneta.
The annual Handog Pamasko to indigent kids from indigent barangays duly chosen/recommended by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) started in 2014. The first barangay recipient was San Vicente with about 250 indigent kids as beneficiaries. In 2015, about 366 kids benefited from the program, all coming from barangay Lananpin. Then in 2016, about 500 kids were recipients from barangay Badipa. For 2017, there were 350 plus kids from barangay San Jose Leet. Of course, for 2019, the recipients are some 480 indigent pupils from Poblacion Urdaneta Central School. All the recipients were treated with Jollibee lunch, gifts, plus a lot of entertainment/parlor games courtesy of the Help the Kids Program of TGU local coordinators.
The success of the Christmas for Kids program and previous Handog Pamasko were made possible through the hard work and dedication of TGU-Urdaneta coordinators with the able support of TESDA Secretary Gen. Sid Lapena and Ret. Gen. Jesus Fajardo. Thank you ladies and gentlemen for sacrificing your time for your loved ones and families just to be able to do this noble cause.
Bringing joy this Christmas knows no boundaries! TGU’s HKB Pamaskong Handog is now on its 6th year. The board pledged that the joy of giving will shine for as long as there are kids needing their assistance, so this will be an annual activity of the global organization.
As usual, let’s enjoy the Christmas season and prepare for the coming New Year!
(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ firstname.lastname@example.org.