Belt-Tightening Call

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Monday, December 16, 2013

IT'S the time of the year when people seem to have more money, yet more expenses too, than the other 11 months. This is the time too of merry-making and celebrations, the most popular of which is the Christmas party.

Almost all institutions, groups, associations, government offices, private companies, schools and even the lowliest tricycle operators and drivers associations (TODA) are having their own celebrations for the Yuletide.

While there is nothing wrong with the merriments, the Department of Education (DepEd) has called on school officials and teachers in the province to practice austerity measures in having Christmas parties in schools.

Malcom Garma, DepEd Pampanga Schools Division Superintendent, reiterated the standing policy of the department on the “no collection” policy for schools especially in our public educational system.

The call came after information reached the said office that some school officials and teachers have been exacting some money from their students for the expenses entailed in Christmas party celebrations.

Some parents are complaining about the “collections” that they see as too onerous, adding up to the financial burden that households now experience due to high price of commodities and utilities including LPG and gasoline.

Parents meanwhile, according to Garma, may give contributions on a “voluntary basis” and at their own volition. He prefers that parents give food instead of cash or other forms of donations.

It can be noted that public schools cater to students from the low to middle class and that not all parents of students can afford to shell out a little of their resources for their children’s Christmas parties. Some families of children in such schools cannot even have a simple Noche Buena due to financial constraints.

In support to his call, Garma also tells school officials that there are other ways to hold Christmas parties that do not entail a lot of expenses. It can be a simple activity that can make schoolchildren happy.

With the hard times being felt now by many Filipinos, I agree with Garma on his call for “belt-tightening”. Just recently, the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) escalated and caused a domino effect to prices of basic commodities.

The increase in prices of goods greatly affects household members. Ostentatious and lavish celebrations of the childrens’ Christmas parties will be additional burden to parents who are still reeling due to hard times.


The recent Giant Lantern Festival (GLF) in the City of San Fernando was a great success, except for the lack in anticipation in the number of those who attended and the volume of vehicles. This resulted into traffic jams and gridlocks that even the North Luzon Expressway was affected.

While all roads led to one of the giant malls along the Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA) for those who wanted to witness the yearly celebration, a lot of preparations on traffic management should have been undertaken.

Contingency measures should have been set up too in anticipation of a much bigger number of vehicles. I am sure many will agree with me that the management of traffic should have been further intensified and improved.

Congratulations anyway to the committees, organizers and workforce of the GLF for another success. Congratulations too to all the winners of the competition.


For any comments, ideas, suggestions or opinions, text or call The Advocate at 09213636360 or send email at

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 17, 2013.


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