A tarpaulin that was a supposed greeting for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary displayed glaring images of some local politicians in Malabon City.
Priest and TikTok creator Fr. Fiel Pareja posted a photo of it and called it out online.
“I am speechless!” Pareja wrote with a zipped-up emoji.
I am speechless! 🤐 pic.twitter.com/Xsr6zLbaUC
— Fr. Fiel Pareja (@padrefiel) September 5, 2021
The photo showed the tarpaulin with the greeting: “The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
It also has a message printed in smaller font that reads: “Ipagdasal po natin ang patuloy na pag-asenso ng bawat pamilyang Malabonian.”
However, images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose birthday is being celebrated only became the backdrop of the material.
Instead, larger photos and names of government officials were given the spotlight on the tarpaulin.
These officials are:
- Malabon Mayor Lenlen Oreta
- Malabon Vice Mayor Ninong Dela Cruz
- Malabon Congresswoman Jaye Lacson-Noel
- Malabon City Councilor Enzo Oreta
The city councilor was also identified as “Kaasenso Enzo Oreta” with a logo under the four officials’ photos.
Fr. Pareja shared another snapshot of the same tarpaulin on Twitter.
“Again, why?” he asked with an upside down smile emoji.
Again, why? 🙃 pic.twitter.com/Aeykm5hqaz
— Fr. Fiel Pareja (@padrefiel) September 6, 2021
September 8 is a fixed date that celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday or her Nativity by members of the Roman Catholic Church around the world.
Catholic News Agency said early Christian writers outlined this date from December 8, exactly nine months after her Immaculate Concepcion.
In August 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law declaring September 8 of every year as a special working holiday nationwide to mark the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
While it is mostly remembered as a holiday, it is a significant occasion in the Catholic Church, including to some devout Filipinos.
Some social media users highlighted this in their criticisms against the Malabon officials.
“Yung totoo po? Si Virgin Mary po ba talaga yung may birthday or yung apat na k*m*g na nasa tarpaulin?” one Twitter user said.
“Si Mama Mary na nag adjust sa inyo para makita kayo kahit sya ung may kapistahan,” a Facebook user wrote.
“The feast of the Mayor, Vice mayor and Congressman. Pagbati mula kay Blessed Virgin Mary,” another user quipped.
Others, meanwhile, shared that it has been a custom for these officials to put up tarpaulins with their names and faces during holiday greetings.
“Dami pa yan Father. Every occasion meron, pati pagkabit ng street lights, dapat may tarps,” one Twitter user said.
“When the politicians take center-stage on a holiday,” another online wrote.
With nearly eight months before the national elections in 2022, Filipinos had been on the lookout for potential “epal” politicians or those who display their names, faces and other forms of self-promotion in state-funded projects and initiatives.
Under the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), the anti-epal provision or General Provision 82 of the adopted 2021 National Budget, government officials are ordered to “refrain from putting names and faces on government documents.”
“Under the Anti-Epal provision, government officials, whether elected or appointed, are banned from self-promotion through [the] placement of names, pictures, or otherwise on programs, projects, and any other initiatives that are funded by the government through the General Appropriations Act,” ARTA also said.