It was a good year. A very good one, I would say.

Here are highlights of the various activities and projects undertaken by the Camera Club of Leyte & Samar for 2010.

CCLS 2010 Yearender from Gerry Ruiz on Vimeo.

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“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

I first came across this odd statement printed as a caption on a Christmas poster when I was in first year college.

Who’s Virginia? And what’s the connect between her and Santa Claus?

Yesterday, I asked our son and daughters if they knew the story behind “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Or if they ever came across such an expression.

No, never, was their reply.

Gosh. They don’t read the papers and books anymore!

So for those who do not know it, specially most of the younger generation, let me share with you the poignant story behind this…

On September 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editors of now defunct New York Sun newspaper asking if there really was a Santa Claus.

That letter, along with the reply from the newspaper’s editor, written 113 years ago has become legendary and has been reprinted and shared countless of times all over the globe.

It has become an annual staple come Christmastime:

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor:

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

A  joyous and most meaningful Christmas to one and all!!!

CHEERS!!!

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One of the main attractions at the ongoing Palo Christmas Festival in Palo, Leyte is the Saboren Christmas Fantasy House.

What attracts many to the very Christmassy abode at the far end of the Brgy. Luntad Christmas Village (that’s the first street corner on the right after crossing the bridge when approaching Palo from Tacloban) is the numerous sets of unique Christmas decors, toys and lights collected by the Saboren family over the years.

Displayed amidst the cacophony of multi-colored lights and Christmas songs, the Saboren Christmas collection is sheer magical experience, not only for the kids but to the kid-in-you of adults.

It’s a sure guarantee of catching, at the very least, a whiff of the Christmas spirit.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

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The Municipality of Palo, on a bid to reclaim its title as the Christmas Capital of Leyte, launched the Palo Christmas Festival 2010 with blazing lights during Switch-on Ceremonies held December 15, 2010 at the town’s plaza.

With the theme, “Du-aw ha Palo, Lamrag ha Pasko,” the switching on of the lights led by Governor Jericho “Icot” Petilla and Mayor Remedios “Matin” Petilla instantly transformed the plaza and nearby barangays into a Christmas fantasy land.

Currently on exhibit at the plaza are the various Belen or Nativity Display entries constructed out of indigenous materials by barangay participants in the Belen Contest.

The ceremonial switch-on program also launched the town’s new tourism-drive tagline, “Enchanting Palo.”

The Christmas Festival will be on till January 08, 2011.

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