Despite great hardships and heartbreak, Christmas can still be a source of hope for Filipinos.

This is the gist of Manila Bulletin’s Christmas video message for the year 2020, quite possibly the toughest year for most of our countrymen, for more reasons than one.

"Pasko ng Pag-asa" – Manila Bulletin Christmas 2020

In spite of all the hardships that we've been through, we're still here, standing still, hoping and fighting for a better tomorrow.We will forever be grateful for your trust in our service. From our heart to yours, we wish you a "Maligayang Pasko ng Pag-asa." 💙#MBChristmas2020

Posted by MANILA BULLETIN on Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The three-minute long video maintains a solemn but resolute tone all throughout, with the lady annotator repeating the phrase “Handa ka na ba (Are you ready)?” several times. Hope is an empty notion without action, after all.

“The concept is titled ‘Pasko ng Pag-Asa (A Christmas of Hope).’ We were all affected by the pandemic including our company, so this (video) shows that we’re here with you in good times and in bad times,” said video producer Johndel Semilla, writer and creator of the video.

“MB stood by its pledge of service during this time of pandemic, to inform, inspire, and empower. And also, to give hope that there will be always a happy ending in every story,” added the 28-year-old.

One of the more striking features of the video is the absence of any Christmas imagery until the very end. Semilla said this was done on purpose.

“We just want to show the whole picture of what happened this 2020. The first step is acceptance and acknowledgement of all that has happened. You must also acknowledge the courage you have shown this year before you can celebrate the holidays.”

Early on in the video, the viewers are reminded of the successive, life-changing hardships that Filipinos have had to face this year–the Taal Volcano eruption, the emerging threat of COVID-19, the pandemic’s ravaging effects on public health and the economy, the recent strong typhoons, and so forth.

But by the middle portion, the line “Lahat ay nagkaisa, nagsilbi at nag-alay para sa kapwa (Everyone came together, to serve and sacrifice for the other)” signaled a shift from dreary to more hopeful images and headlines as seen on MB’s own pages.

“I guess the remarkable line for me is ‘Mga hiningang naghahabulan, lumayong pagmamahalan, at buhay na nasayang (The struggle to catch one’s breath, love forced apart, lives lost and wasted).’ It’s because I experienced the cruelty of the pandemic first-hand; last August, I lost my partner  to COVID-19,” he said.

“Life is all about moving forward, keeping hope in your heart, and trusting the Lord with all your life. I hope that every Filipino could also find their reason to keep hope in their hearts,” he  said.

This life lesson is reflected in MB’s Christmas message, which prods the viewer to “create more stories that we can be proud of,” moving forward, in the new normal.

And if you somehow doubt that there’s an exit waiting for you in this long and dark tunnel, the video has a simple reminder at the end on the resilience of the Filipino. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Source: Manila Bulletin (