MANILA — In the next few weeks, people will probably be trooping to the Edsa Shrine again. This time, shrine officials and volunteers themselves are the ones leading the mobilization.
There is no need for the administration and the police to panic however. They could even decide to join the festive gathering.
Promising to make the life of the poor "a bit happier" this holiday season, volunteer groups for the Our Lady Queen of Peace Quasi-Parish are mounting a 20-foot tall Christmas Tree at the shrine.
This will not be an ordinary holiday display, the groups promised during a presentation Friday afternoon.
The "Edsa Shrine Christmas Tree" will be made of an inverted cone steel structure with a thousand pots each holding a coconut seedling, Lito Zapanta of the Well Spring of Life told the INQUIRER.
The tree, to be assembled by the son of artist Manny Casal who had already done artwork at the shrine, will be erected beside the Our Lady of Peace Statue, with the large capiz star lantern on its top reaching the neck-level of the statue.
Illuminating the tree of 1,000 coconut seedlings will be elaborate Christmas lights and a thousand lanterns to be designed by street children under the care of the shrine.
There will also be a life-sized Belen made of nipa to house the images of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Three Kings and the shepherds below the Christmas Tree.
"(The) Edsa Shrine would like to be the instrument to carry the Christmas messages of hope, peace, love, joy, sharing and forgiveness," Zapanta also told reporters.
The shrine, built in honor of the 1986 People Power Revolution and also the site of the 2001 People Power Revolution, is celebrating its 17th anniversary on December 15.
The groups chose coconut seedlings for the Christmas Tree because the coconut tree is called the "tree of life" for of its numerous uses, Wellspring of Life head servant Danny Olivares said.
He prefers to call the Edsa Shrine Christmas Tree as the "Christmas Tree of Life." Rightfully so, as the organizers are making sure the decors will also benefit the poor.
To generate funds from the decors, the organizers will offer the seedlings "for adoption" for P1,000 each. The seedlings will be named after the donors and will be planted by street children at the Smokey Mountain in Manila City after the holiday season.
The lanterns will also be sold for P100 each. The proceeds will be donated to the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation, which has been sending street children to school and away from violence and drug addiction.
"We want our activities to be a venue for those who are blessed to share with the less fortunate," Olivares said.
Construction of the tree will start in the next few weeks but the formal ground breaking is scheduled on December 1.
The lighting of the tree will start on December 15. It will be surrounded with bright lights in the next 23 days from 6 p.m. to midnight.
The tree will be brought down on January 7, 2007 to give way for another series of activities at the shrine, Zapanta also promised.