POSTSCRIPT / December 25, 2014 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Palace gives positive summing up of 2014

COMPARATIVE RECAP: Ringing a positive Christmas note, Malacañang trotted out comparative figures this week in the Official Gazette showing a statistical selfie of sorts of its accomplishments toward the end of year 2014.

To have some kind of base, the Palace compared what it has accomplished to what previous administrations had. Here goes:

  • Average GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Growth:

2007 to 2nd Quarter 2010 — 4.6 percent VS 3rd Quarter 2010 to 2013 — 6.0 percent.

  • PSE (Philippine Stock Exchange) Index:

Closing value on June 29, 2010 — 3,372.71 VS Closing value as of Dec. 19, 2014 — 7,125.63.

  • Credit Rating:

Speculative Grade before VS Investment Grade now, to wit–

>Fitch Ratings: Previous BB Stable to BBB Stable now.

>Standard & Poor’s: Previous BB Stable to BBB Stable now.

>Moody’s: Previous Ba3 Stable to Baa3 Stable now.

  • Net Foreign Direct Investments (FDI):

Full year 2009 — $2.06 billion VS Full year 2010 — $1.07 billion. First three quarters of 2014 — $4.88 billion.

  • Tax Effort (Tax Revenue-to-GDP Ratio):

Full year 2009 — 12.2 percent, and Full year 2010 — 12.1 percent VS Full year 2013 — 13.3 percent.

  • CCT Beneficiaries:

In July 2010 — 786,523 households VS As of Nov. 26, 2014 — 4,478,562 households and homeless street families.

  • PhilHealth Coverage (beneficiaries):

As of December 2010 — 47.07 million VS As of August 2014 — 81.76 million.

  • Employment Rate:

October 2009 — 92.9 percent VS October 2014 — 94.0 percent.

  • Education Sector:

2010 — P225.1-billion budget VS 2014 — P383.1-billion budget.

From 2005 to June 2010 — 17,305 classrooms built VS From July 2010 to end-2013 — 66,813 classrooms.

  • Tourist Arrivals:

2009 — 3,017,099 VS 2013 — 4,681,307.

* * *

BLESSED DAY: Happy Christmas to all on this blessed day, especially to loyal Postscript readers and men of goodwill who react by sharing their own considered opinion minus ad hominems.

To the many readers who patiently take time to send me letters, sometimes attaching documents, my apologies for not being able to write back through postal mail. I am sorry I am not equipped or staffed to respond in kind.

I am a one-man movable operation. I have no office (my workplace is where my laptop and mobile phones happen to be). I have no secretary, no staff, no researchers, no driver, no legmen.

For regular communication with readers, I rely solely on email. As a rule, I do not open emailed attachments or follow requests for me to pursue the lead by hopping on to another website (url).

My simple setup is neither ideal nor efficient, but I am contented with it. To our patient public who continue to bear with us, a blessed Christmas again.

* * *

FIRST CHRISTMAS: We are wont to ask when really was the first Christmas (Old EnglishCrīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”)? The first Christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate to billions of believers, but when exactly was that?

For some elucidation, we go to the Catholic Education Resource Center website and borrow excerpts of an article of Fr. William Saunders:

“One would think that if anyone’s date of birth were remembered exactly, it would be that of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the gospels do not pinpoint the date of Christ’s birth. The reason is probably that the focus of the gospels is on the kerygma or mystery of redemption — the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

“This focus is also probably why St. Mark’s Gospel does not even include the Christmas story, but begins with the Baptism of the Lord at the River Jordan. Easter, on the other hand, can be better dated because of its concurrence with Passover.”

* * *

DEC. 25 ADOPTED: Still Saunders: “Prior to the legalization of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine in the year 313, no universal date or even formal celebration of Christmas is found. For instance, Origen (d.255), St. Irenaeus (d. 202), and Tertullian (d. 220) do not include Christmas or its date on their lists of feasts and celebrations.

“After legalization, the Church was better able to establish universal dates of feasts and to organize the public celebration. Moreover, we now see the Church addressing controversies concerning Jesus as true God and true man and how He entered this world. Such concern would focus more attention on the importance of celebrating Christmas, the birth of our Lord.

“On the more practical side of this issue, Roman pagans used to gather at the hill where the Vatican is now located to commemorate the ‘Birth of the Unconquered Sun’. This pagan feast was celebrated throughout the Empire either on Dec. 25 (according to the Julian calendar) or on Jan. 6 (according to the Egyptian calendar).

“Although not proven with certainty, some historians credit Constantine, who declared Sunday as a day of rest in the Empire, with replacing the pagan festival with that of Christmas. Interestingly, since the 200s, Jesus was honored with the title, ‘Sun of Justice.’

“Somehow all of these elements converged to the formal celebration of Christmas on Dec. 25. For instance, Christmas was celebrated in Rome by Pope Liberius (352-66) on Dec. 25. On Dec. 25, 379, St. Gregory Nazianzus preached a Christmas sermon in Constantinople. In the Cathedral of Milan, St. Ambrose (d. 397) celebrated Christmas.

“Therefore, by the year 400, generally, the birth of Christ was set on Dec. 25 with the exception of Palestine, where it was celebrated on Jan. 6 until the mid-600s, when it was then transferred to Dec. 25. As an aside, the Feast of the Epiphany also emerged in Gaul (the Roman province of present-day France) about the year 361. This feast was moved to Jan. 6, which remains the official date.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 25, 2014)

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