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A Family Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers and to the rest of the Filipino nation! My family and I wish everyone a safe, meaningful, and happy holiday season. I know it has been a difficult year and some might think that the pandemic has sucked the life out of the Filipino Christmas. But the celebration of Christmas is part of what we are as a people. The decorations are muted, the gifts probably simpler and less expensive, the parties are online, and the greetings physically distant, but Pinoy Christmas is here.


Even in our family, Christmas will be different but essentially the same. Our family’s Christmas has always been very simple. It has always been about being with each other. In the past, we’d go to the US and do things together — eating, watching TV, sharing stories. They’d go shopping while I just sat in a cafe and killed time. I remember we’d all cuddle up at home while watching movies. These are memories made precisely for times like these when you need the inspiration to go through one of the most difficult times we have ever experienced.


Now, with the pandemic and all, we’ll just have a small and simple family gathering at our home — physically distant but perhaps closer than ever. This is the time—when things are tough — when we need each other more. Sure, we’ll miss a lot of things—the caroling, the gift shopping at the last minute, the parties, and the family reunions — but I think the lockdown restrictions will allow us to focus on the basics.


The holidays have always been about love and family. Yes, we give material stuff but they represent the love and care we have for one another. Why else would we spend time in a crowded mall, looking for the perfect gift to a friend or your sister or brother? Of course today, crowded malls or stores are not allowed but I bet Filipinos would still find a way to give.


As I wrote in my previous column, the pandemic gives us time to focus on what’s important. And that’s family. We have been very busy in our family this year. Mark has done a wonderful job as secretary of DPWH. He’s been at the forefront of our fight against COVID-19 as well as government efforts amidst the string of powerful typhoons in the past months.


Camille has been an excellent representative of the people of Las Piñas City in the House of Representatives. She has been relentless in pursuing her advocacies on education, entrepreneurship, and the youth. I am proud of the tremendous job she has been doing as a neophyte in Congress. Paolo has done an extraordinary job as president and CEO of Vista Land & Lifescapes. He has steered the ship through turbulent waters. His leadership has made Vista Land one of the country’s leading integrated property developers. I am extremely proud of the way he has led our company.


My wife Cynthia continues her admirable work in the Senate where she has been the most vocal defender of the environment, OFW welfare, and agriculture. As a legislator, she joined her colleagues in providing policy directions amidst the coronavirus pandemic especially in terms of providing assistance to those severely affected by the lockdown.


I have been busy with our retail business composed of our home improvement chain AllHome, All Day Supermarket, All Day Convenience Store, Coffee Project, and Bake My Day. Lockdown or no lockdown, I have been enjoying pursuing these new, diverse, and exciting directions for our company.


We’ve all been very busy this year. And the lockdown has limited the time we spent with each other. So in a way we are all looking forward to a quiet and simple Christmas where we can gather and catch up on what has been a very hectic and difficult year. I hope your family can also take advantage of this opportunity to really have a meaningful celebration of Christmas. Whether in small groups or online, let us all be thankful that, despite the challenges, we survived this year to be with each other. And, in the end, that’s all that matters.


Happy Christmas everyone!



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar