Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso assured residents of a “hopeful and optimistic” Christmas despite the pandemic as he bared their plans and upcoming events.
Domagoso said he allowed churches to conduct the traditional Misa de Gallo or “Simbang Gabi” but with only 30 percent of its capacity.
Dawn masses will also be held at the Kartilya ng Katipunan near the Manila City Hall starting 8 p.m. on December 15. It will be led by Quiapo Church officials.
Christmas bazaars will be allowed in the capital city in a bid to revive the economy amid the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) crisis, the local chief executive said.
The city government, led by the Bureau of Permits and Licenses Office (BPLO), will also hold a month-long bazaar called “Paskuhan sa Maynila” at Mehan Garden in Ermita, Manila.
Entrance will be free for everyone while bazaar vendors will have to pay a “hawker’s fee” of P30 per day.
Domagoso encouraged both residents and non-residents of the city to participate in the city government’s Christmas bazaar to help them earn more income.
“You are all welcome in Manila. In fact, we will form a bridge to help you earn a decent living or savings and provide an opportunity like jobs,” he told reporters on Monday.
“We really wanted to remind them that hope is not lost. The fact that we reached the end of the year is already a blessing, and we’re looking to a better year,” BPLO Director Levi Facundo said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
“You being with your family in that moment, eating puto bumbong, listening to some music, bonding with your loved ones, is a big thing. It makes you breathe even just for a day from the stress that COVID-19 has brought you,” he added.
The Manila mayor guaranteed the public that can safely visit bazaars in Manila because they have been testing public transportation drivers, public market vendors, and restaurant, hotel, and mall employees for COVID-19 and isolating those who test positive.
Government-issued health and safety protocols will also be observed during the bazaars, he said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Arts of Manila (DTCAM), in partnership with Sagada Coffee, is set to lead a coffee festival called “Kape’t Luntian” at the Andres Bonifacio Monument Park near the Manila City Hall.
The Manila Restaurant Week will also be held again from December 5 to 20, with its theme being street food for the first week and sugar rush for the second week. The food festival was first held from September to 27.
Earlier, Domagoso announced that they will distribute food boxes to each of the 650,000 families in Manila and gift packs for senior citizens to ensure that no one will go hungry on Christmas Day.
“It’s new year. We have to inspire our people that 2021 is a new year. In line with our statement, our rules are always certain: Sa Maynila, lahat pantay-pantay—walang mahirap, walang middle class, walang mayaman. Sa Maynila, walang maiiwan (In Manila, everyone is equal—no poor, rich, or middle class. In Manila, no one will be left behind),” he said in a statement released on Tuesday.