Who said Christmas is just for Christians?
Twelve-year-old Setty Aina Sarit,12, happily joined about 6,000 children from various barangays of Lapu-Lapu in the annual Children’s Party sponsored by the city government in the Hoopsdome yesterday.
Setty and 32 other Muslim children mingled with other minors for a full day of parlor games, dancing, food and new toys as gifts.
“This is my first time. In our place, we don’t have parties. We get to celebrate after Ramadan but there’s nothing in December,” said Setty.
The annual party for indigent children was first organized during Rep. Arturo Radaza’s term as city mayor and has been continued by his wife incumbent Mayor Paz Radaza.
“Christmas is really for children,” said the mayor.
“Most of these kids are unable to enjoy a Christmas party so we throw one for them.”
The children provided some of the entertainment, dancing “Oppa Gangnam” style popularized by Korean rapper Py.
Each child was given a gift pack containing toys and a packed meal.
The youngsters are beneficiaries of the national government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program where low-income families receive cash aid on condition that their children go to school and show up for medical checkups. Lapu-Lapu city’s Home Care program is another sponsor.
Setty said their Muslim parents explained to them that Christmas is for everyone, regardless of their religion, and that it was a time for children to receive gifts, play games and to enjoy feasts.
Setty, a native of Lanao del Sur, said most of her fellow Muslims residing in sitio Iba, barangay Basak in Lapu-Lapu City come from different places in Mindanao such as Lanao, Agusan del Norte and Zamboanga City.
Her family, excluding her father, left Mindanao years ago to escape armed conflict between the military and rebels years go.
Jimbo Linao, 14, of barangay Ibo, said he looked forward to the annual party to enjoy with his friends.
“It’s only during Christmas parties like this that we get to receive gifts and we’re always present,” said the boy.
It was the first time for siblings Laurence, 7 and Rose Anne, 12 of barangay Agus to attend. “Nalipay kaayo mi kay nakaapil mi og Christmas party nga daghan kaayong mga bata). We’re very happy to attend. There are so many children here.)