By Ferdinand Patinio

CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR. Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna leads the distribution of special gift boxes to senior citizens on Wednesday (Dec. 13, 2023). The city government has earlier completed the distribution of Christmas food boxes to 695,000 households in the city. (Photo courtesy of Manila City Hall Reporters Association)

MANILA – A total of 695,000 households in the city of Manila have received their Christmas food boxes during the 12-day distribution period.

Mayor Honey Lacuna led the distribution of the food packs to residents of the city’s 896 barangays from Dec. 1 to 12, the Manila Public Information Office said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Lacuna also led the start of the three-day distribution of special gift boxes for the city’s 180,000 senior citizens.

On the other hand, Office for Senior Citizens’ Affairs (OSCA) chief Elinor Jacinto said the payout of the PHP500 monthly allowance for senior citizens started on Monday in the city’s first and second districts.

The payout covers the period September to December this year.

The distribution of Christmas gifts and allowance payouts are part of the city’s “May Kalinga, May Ginhawa, May Saya” Christmas celebration in Manila.

Lacuna earlier announced that beginning next year, those aged 18 and below who are persons with disability will also receive the said benefits.

The inclusion of the members of the vulnerable sector in the monthly allowances is pursuant to an ordinance passed by the Manila City Council.

Christmas gifts for EMBO residents

The Taguig City government also started the distribution of Christmas gift packs to residents in EMBO (enlisted men’s barrio) barangays.

Mayor Lani Cayetano led the house-to-house distribution of the gift boxes to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women in Barangay Rizal.

The city has also started distributing claim stubs for the gift boxes in other EMBO barangays.

Efren Nero, a 71-year-old resident, thanked the city government for the gesture, noting that he does not have to travel far anymore just to get the gift pack.

Meanwhile, Criselle Pintucan, who is currently pregnant with her second child, said the gift pack is a big help especially amid rising prices of commodities.

Meanwhile, Rosalie Rabena, a person with a disability, emphasized the relief the home delivery brought to her limited mobility.

“Napakasarap ng pakiramdam na house to house na, binuhat pa nila papasok sa loob ng bahay kasi hindi ko mabuhat. Doon sa dati, pinapapila pa kami sa isang lugar eh hindi ko talaga kaya kasi di ako makalakad (It’s good that they did a house-to-house delivery. They even carried it and brought it inside my house because I cannot carry it by myself. Before, we used to queue in one place and it’s hard because I have a hard time walking),” she added.

Taguig capable of hosting House

Meanwhile, Cayetano welcomed the proposal to transfer the office of the House of Representatives to the city’s Bonifacio Global City district.

She added that this plan is a testament to Taguig’s development as a premier city.

Once the plan pushes through, she also said this will also attract businesses, tourists, educational institutions, international organizations and various government offices to transfer to the city.

She added that the move is further highlighted by the partial opening of the Senate’s new office in the city by next year.

“The City stands prepared to furnish any essential information and support needed for a thorough evaluation of Taguig City as the potential new home for the House of Representatives,” she said during Wednesday’s hearing of the House Ad Hoc Committee tasked to study the matter.

Cayetano also said the city government is ready to collaborate with the House leadership in ironing plans on traffic management, connectivity, and security.

The House is currently located in the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City.

The Senate, meanwhile, is housed in the Government Service Insurance System complex in Pasay City. It is set to partially begin operations in BGC in July 2024. (with report from Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)