Marcos invites public to Palace grounds for ‘Simbang Gabi’
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday invited the public to come and visit the Malacañang grounds for “Simbang Gabi.”
In a video uploaded on the Facebook page of first lady Liza Marcos, the president said the Palace would be open to the public every night from 7 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“You can go here. Bring your families, even the children, before you go to Simbang Gabi,” Marcos said in Filipino.
He said guests would be treated to “Puto Bongbong” – a play on the Filipino purple rice cake called “puto bumbong,” a traditional Christmas delicacy.
Also on Wednesday, the president made a surprise visit to families who were at the Kalayaan Grounds at the Palace to view its Christmas tree and lantern displays.
According to the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS), Marcos made passed by on his way to a get-together with officials and personnel of the Radio and Television Malacañang.
The OPS said the president arrived in the area past 8:00 p.m. and shook hands and had his picture taken with the Malacañang visitors who came from nearby cities and as far as Cavite and Laguna provinces.
“Everyone was so excited with children trying to get near, while supporters continually chanted the name of the president who shook hands and greeted them ‘Merry Christmas!’” the OPS said in a statement.
Ben Aguilar, a visitor from Muntinlupa, said he did not expect to see the chief executive in person.
“I’m very happy because the Palace is open to the public. And it’s amusing because people wish for a leader who’s within reach,” Aguilar said in Filipino, as quoted by OPS.
Visitors can enter the Palace through Gate 6 to view the Christmas tree and lanterns and attend the Simbang Gabi, or dawn mass, until Dec. 24.
According to the OPS said, opening Malacañang is part of the president’s goal to make sure that Filipino children, including those residing nearby, will have a joyful and meaningful Christmas.
The traditional Simbang Gabi also gives the public a chance to view the Christmas displays.
The OPS said that from Tuesday evening until 4:00 a.m. Wednesday alone, at least 2,116 individuals have seen the Christmas displays and attended the Simbang Gabi, which starts every 4:30 a.m. in front of the Mabini Hall.