A day before the entire nation celebrates Christmas, President Rodrigo R. Duterte encourages Filipinos to be an inspiration to others by showing kindness to everyone, especially the needy and disadvantaged members of the society.

Duterte made the call as he joined the Christian faithful in observing the “joyous occasion” of Christmas. 

The Chief Executive said Jesus’ birth, which is commemorated every December 25, should serve as a reminder of the “true meaning of love, grace, and selflessness to the world.”

“As we remember the true meaning of this solemn festivity, may we emulate Christ’s empathy and kindness by opening our heart and extending our hands to everyone, especially to those who are less fortunate, and sharing with them the bounty and blessings we have received in the past year,” Duterte said in his message on Tuesday. “This season is a perfect time, not only to partake in our traditions, but also to reflect on the importance of family as the center of our celebration.”

Duterte, through Proclamation 555 signed in August last year, declared December 24 and 25 this year as special non-working and regular holidays, respectively, to allow Filipinos to spend more time with their families during the Christmas season.

The President hoped that all Filipinos would enjoy a “happy and blessed Christmas.”

He also asked them to demonstrate even small acts of kindness, which he believed might contribute to a “brighter tomorrow.”

“I call on every Filipino across the globe to be an inspiration to others through our small acts of benevolence. As we delight ourselves in the warmth of our loved ones, let us strengthen our bonds and deepen our relationships with one another,” Duterte said.

“Together, let us rejoice in Christ’s compassion and celebrate our shared humanity as we steer our nation towards a brighter tomorrow,” he added.

The President is expected to spend Christmas with his family in his official residence in Davao City without fanfare, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on December 17.

As part of his annual Christmas tradition, the President visits young cancer patients at the Southern Philippine Medical Center in Davao City every year.

Duterte played Santa ahead of Christmas when he gave early Christmas presents and even a fatherly hug and kisses on the forehead to cancer-stricken Jacob Wong, 5, who visited the President’s home on December 13.

Earlier Tuesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar expressed hope that Filipinos would welcome Christmas with “harmony, unity, optimism amidst challenges, and hope for the future.”

About 48 percent of 1,200 Filipinos were confident that this coming Christmas would be “more prosperous” than last year, according to the December 3 to 8 poll conducted by Pulse Asia.

The survey found that only 11 percent believed that this year’s Christmas would be “poorer” than last year, while 41 percent were convinced that it would be just “the same as last year.” (PNA/ Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos  )