ROME, Dec. 17, 2010â€”The traditional nativity scene that will be put up at St. Peterâ€™s Square in the Vatican will feature a set of nine Filipino figures that will complement the traditional figures of the Holy Family.
The Philippine-made statues depict a Filipino family inside a boat pulling a net with a plentiful catch from the sea. Near them, other companions are portrayed playing different indigenous musical instruments. Some baskets, filled with different Philippine tropical fruits, vegetables, fishes and shells, highlighting the bountiful harvest of the earth and the sea, complete the set.
Designed by Davao-based Filipino sculptor, Kublai Ponce-Millan, the sculptures represent different indigenous groups of the Philippines in a festive celebration of faith, music, food and family on the occasion of the birth of Jesus.
Kublai Ponce-Millan began his work in August after Mercedes Tuason, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, presented the project to the Governorate of the Vatican City State as part of the launching activities of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the Holy See.
â€œTo include the Filipino figures at the Vatican nativity scene will surely be most meaningful for all Filipinos knowing that the solemnity of Christmas is perhaps the most popular celebration among Filipino Catholicsâ€, Tuason said in her letter to Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.
Delighted with this proposal, Cardinal Lajolo responded that â€œthis gesture would be meaningful for the vast Filipino community in Italy, a hard working community of great faith and family values.â€
Under the supervision of the Technical Services of the Governorate of the Vatican City State, around 35 workers began work on the nativity scene in St. Peterâ€™s square in early November.
The work is expected to be finished on December 24, in time for the official opening and blessing that evening. Pope Benedict XVI will participate in the unveiling ceremony from the window of the papal apartments.
Filipinos in Italy are consoled to see their Christian faith recognized and affirmed by the Holy See in this symbolic way. They are grateful for the honor of being placed in the center of Catholicismâ€™s celebration of the birth of Christ this year.
The ongoing construction of the Nativity scene and the Philippine contribution to it can be viewed on YouTube by accessing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGTSIREw1qs (Fr. Jose V.C. Quilongquilong, S.J.)