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‘Tis the season

Catbalogan City gleams with Joy and Hope

December 7, 2011

CATBALOGAN CITY  –  Young People, City and School Officials along with other Catbaloganons from different walks of life got educated, enlightened and empowered during the 2011 World AIDS Day Commemoration and the Launching of the 2011 Christmas Festival through the Ceremonial Lighting of the City Christmas Tree at the City Plaza last December 01, 2011.

Dubbed as the “RED NIGHT”, the event started with a Foot Parade from the plaza and around major city streets that gathered participation from members of Junior Chamber International, Inc (JCI) Catbalogan Balud Chapter; students from different Elementary, Secondary and College Schools; various Youth Organization, Fraternities and Sororities; and the Stellar Society of Samar that came in colorful Mardi Gras costumes.

As the official World AIDS Day (WAD) Program commenced, a game show titled as the “1st HIV and AIDS Mass Quiz” organized by WARAYA, got the students excited over answering seven (7) questions related to the commemoration of 2011 World AIDS Day. The WAD Program ended with the Ceremonial Send-Off of Seven (7) Red Lanterns that were hoisted by groups of stakeholders and partners. The red lanterns carried seven (7) Key Messages in support of HIV and AIDS Awareness and these were: (1) Take A Stand… Demand! (2) Break Free (3) End Stigma! (4) Reach Out; (5) Speak Up! Speak Loud! (6) Stay Positive! and (7) Our Choice! Our Right!

These same key messages were worn by the organizers during the event, firmly promoting HIV and AIDS Awareness. Waray-Waray Youth Advocates (WARAYA), being the lead organizer of the 2011 WAD is the pioneer youth organization advocating for Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR) in Samar and has been educating and empowering young people since 2004.

Seven (7) questions during the quiz show, seven (7) red lanterns bearing seven (7) key messages, these sevens were part of WARAYA’s “Seven Eleven” Program in celebration of its 7th Founding Anniversary.

Following right after the WAD Program was the 2011 Christmas Festival Launching, which started with some Christmas song numbers followed by the Christmas Tableau of cute preschoolers from Fun N’ Learn Preschool. In behalf of the City Government of Catbalogan, City Vice-Mayor Art Sherwin L. Gabon gave a moving message of gratefulness, hope and the importance of family as the main reasons of celebrating Christmas. The highlight of the night was the actual lighting of the approximated 20-Feet Christmas Tree, followed right after by the 8th Infantry Division, Philippine Army Stormtroopers Band that gave the accompaniment of Christmas songs, filling the night with joy and warmth.

The Christmas Tree is situated on top of the canopy at the side of the plaza colorfully adorned with Parols commissioned from enterprising inmates from the Samar Provincial Jail and with nearly 500 colorful bulbs and several dangling lights brightening the City Hall façade.

Signaling the start of the 2011 Christmas Festival, several activities were launched on that eve and are being coorganized by different partners and stakeholders of the LGU. Starting with the “Wish Ko Lang”-inspired activity of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) City Federation through Federation President Hon. Dexter M. Uy with their activity “Hingyap Mo, Tatalinguhaun Ko!” which runs from December 01-11 catering to fellow young people aimed to share the Christmas spirit.

Making most of her passion for fashion, First Councilor Stephany Uy-Tan co-organizes with WARAYA, Samar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (SCCI) and the Department of Trade and Industry – Samar (DTI) for a unique fashion trade for a cause. On December 12 at New Maqueda Bay Hotel, the Fashion Show and Auction Event will highlight pre-loved and unique collection of various fashion apparel and accessories.

From December 13-16 at the City Plaza, a Nightly Trade Bazaar will gather exhibitors of various used items on sale and all for a good cause. The organizers of the event has decided to donate a hefty percentage of the proceeds to several indigent families in Catbalogan as assisted by the City Social Welfare and Development Office through a combination of Noche Buena packages and some clothing items in time for Christmas.

Capping the festival is the “Panarit Pamasko: Christmas Carol Singing Contest” slated on December 14, 2011 at the City Plaza, expected to gather groups of singers and carolers sharing their melodic renditions of Christmas songs.

Anchored on the theme “Ha Pasko may Pagkaurusa, Paglipay ngan Pagpapasalamat!”, City Mayor Coefredo “Tekwa” Uy and the City Officials in coordination with different partners and stakeholders aim to ensure a festive and hopeful celebration of Christmas despite challenges and changes being faced. After all, this is indeed the season to be jolly!