Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. delivers his message during the opening of Christmas lights at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on December 4, 2017. (Photo by Erly Garcia)
By Jhea Mae B. Gaco
ILOILO – Christmas is finally in the air here at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol now that the whole building is decorated with Christmas lights, lanterns and festive symbols.
Dancing light-emitting diode bulbs and parols envelop the historic Casa Real de Iloilo and the surroundings of the new Capitol building attracting city residents and local tourists at night.
The compound is open until 10:00 PM since the ceremonial switching on of lights and giant Christmas tree on December 4, 2017.
A sound system playing Christmas carols and photo booth adjacent to the fountain are also put in place in the lower ground floor of the Capitol.
Officer-in-Charge Aaron Raymundo of the General Services Office said they spent about P1.5-million for the Capitol’s Christmas décor and fireworks display.
“We also got five corporate sponsors and six individual donations to help us decorate every corner of the building and compound,” said Raymundo thanking the sponsors’ generosity and cooperation.
From December 16 until 24, the Capitol’s Christmas lights will be switched on to guide the faithful attending the traditional Simbang Gabi at 4:00 AM in nearby churches.
The lights will stay overnight on December 24 for Christmas, December 31 for the New Year and on January 7 for the Feast of the Three Kings.
Light of Peace
Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. said the Christmas lights aim to inspire and remind the public that there is hope in the dark.
“I grew up in the farm and there was no electricity in Mina. We only had electricity when I became a lawyer. Back then, I could still recall mother instructing me to light the kerosene lamp, telling me and my siblings – ‘even if we don’t have food, there should be light’,” he said.
At that time, people wanted access to electricity that brings light to their homes. But now, we seek a different kind of light – a light for real peace, he stressed.
He expressed concern that “peace is moving farther away from us” after the government ended its peace negotiation with Community Party of the Philippines –New People’s Army.
He then urged the public to unite in this turbulent time and to personify the spirit of Christmas by creating positive changes in Philippine society.