A month ago during National Bookstore's Cut Price Sale, I was able to buy Anvil Publishing's Hans Christian Andersen and Jose Rizal: From Denmark to the Philippines, a compilation of selected fairy tales by the Danish author in English with Rizal's Tagalog translation.
Rizal created the Tagalog draft for his nephews and nieces and sent it to his sisters. He even made drawings of some of the characters featured in the stories. One of the tales that Rizal included was all about The Fir Tree (Ang Puno ng Pino). A young fir tree who was too excited to grow up and discover the realities of life.
Being a Filipino in Europe particularly in Germany, Rizal took note of their Holiday tradition of decorating a fir or pine tree during Christmas Eve. Rizal also described in another letter to his sister, Saturnina, what a fir tree looks and feels like. This practice was also brought by Queen Victoria's Prince Consort, Albert, to Great Britain during the 1830s.
In the 19th century Philippines, it wasn't the tree that was popular but the Christmas lantern or Parol (which was made from bamboo) which signifies the lighting of the way to the Christ Child. It was probably the Americans in the early 20th century that brought the concept of Christmas trees to the Filipinos. The Americans were even the ones who planted the pine trees found in Baguio City when they were building it during the Colonial Period.
Whether it's a tree or lantern that you'll be preparing for this Holiday; the most important thing is the message of hope. As Alexander Pope wrote in his essay, "Hope springs eternal in every human breast ."
About a week ago, I attended the official lighting of Marco Polo Plaza's Tree of Hope. It's the start of the Festive Season in Cebu, and most hotels and malls have started displaying their own Christmas trees. But Marco Polo Cebu's has a special place in my heart because their tree doesn't just entertain and provides happiness but it also gives.
For the past nine years, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu has partnered with GMA Kapuso Foundation and have already given more than Php 1,000,000.00 to the different projects of the non-government organization. The foundation's main focus are the underprivileged Filipinos. They are helping them build better and fulfilled lives.
Every Php 200 donation that you make entitles you to a Christmas ball and a notecard; these will be added to the Tree of Hope which grandly takes centerstage in Marco Polo Plaza's Lobby. You can visit the Tree of Hope from November 17, 2018 to January 6, 2019 and make your meaningful contribution.
As a special incentive for those who will donate two or more Christmas balls, you get a chance to win a roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong care of Cathay Pacific.
I donated two Christmas balls during the lighting ceremony and while I was writing my message on the notecard, I started reading the cards that were already up on the tree. It was heartwarming to read messages by young people and kids. Theirs are wishes and hopes that only children could have made.
I took photos of some of the cards and I encourage you to go through them.
Christmas is truly in our hearts --- I totally agree with Jose Mari Chan!