The Blessed Virgin is the country’s main patroness. To allow Filipinos to celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the government will give schools and offices the day off. Some of the faithful react.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Catholics in the Philippines welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s new law making the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on 8 December a new national holiday. Schools and offices will be closed throughout the country.
The bill, signed by the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte), was approved by the House of Representatives on 2 May and by the Senate on 11 December. The law takes effect 15 days after its publication on the Official Gazette.
"I believe that this is good because the patroness of the Philippines is our Blessed Mother Mary," said Ramon F Santiago of the Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, speaking to AsiaNews.
Bambi Suguitan Lozano agrees. "I am glad the president considered the love of the Filipinos for Mother Mary," said the lay Catholic leader from San Roque Parish, Sampaloc, Archdiocese of Manila.
"It should have been done long time ago,” noted SLym Villegas, an orthopedic implant specialist. “If we celebrate All Soul's Day and Hero's Day as national holidays, why not Mother Mary's Immaculate Conception day? It is right that now it is a national holiday. It is our way to give thanks and praise to Mother Mary.”
For the Philippines, where Catholic represent 80 per cent of the population, Mary is the main patroness.
Even before the law was adopted, and 8 December was still a regular working day, the Church invited the faithful to participate in religious services and schools suspended classes.