February 2, 2018
Much cheer and celebrations abound in the whole month of January! National Bible Month officially went in full swing in 2018, with the theme: “The Bible is the Foundation for Righteous Leadership and Living.”
“We are starting the year excellently—the whole country is focused on celebrating the Bible this month! We thank God that our leaders saw the Bible as crucial in building the character of a nation and its countrymen,” says Dr. Nora G. Lucero, General Secretary of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS). PBS is spearheading the yearly celebrations.
The 2018 theme for NBM was based on Proverbs 29:2 in the Good News Translation, which reads, “Show me a righteous ruler and I will show you a happy people. Show me a wicked ruler and I will show you a miserable people,” and from Mark 10:42-44 (GNT) which says, “So Jesus called them all together to him and said, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it is among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of all.’”
Aside from the steady involvement of churches, schools, business, government offices, and various organizations, NBM 2018 enjoyed the support of the national government, beginning with President Rodrigo Duterte himself through the Presidential Proclamation No. 124 issued last January 2017, declaring the month of January as National Bible Month. This was followed by the endorsement of local government units, the Department of Education, and the Commission on Higher Education.
Celebrations longer, more creative
In previous years, PBS has been spearheading National Bible Week (NBW) celebrations for the Bible every year since 1982, supported by the declarations of former Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, and Fidel Ramos. Because of the longer opportunity to celebrate this year, PBS delightfully took up the challenge and celebrated the entire month, in cooperation with different sectors of the society. Many groups and institutions showcased their creativity in their celebrations, and involved both young and old participants.
Schools engaged their students in Bible quizzes held in provinces such as Pangasinan, Bulacan, Antique, Bacolod, Samar, Rizal, Benguet, Sorsogon, Camarines Norte, Cebu, Davao, and Bukidnon. Aside from the intellectual challenge, students were also engaged in costume and Bible verse parades, contests for poster-making, photography, essay-writing, and many others.
“The Bible seemed like unraveling an infinite knot. In every knot we gain wisdom, a reflection,” shared James, a graduating 12th grader from Rizal province. In their school, James and his classmates were privileged to give testimonies before their teachers and schoolmates. In his testimony, James shared, “Some reflections hurt because it is the truth, but the comfort and wisdom gained afterwards were worth it.”
As for older adults and other groups, spectacles such as Bible parades, motorcades, outdoor concerts, Bible run, sportsfests, drama presentations, and film showing promoted the Bible verses, characters, and lessons. Many churches and organizations also grabbed the opportunity to conduct seminars and forums aligned with the NBM theme.
But aside from the usual activities, NBM 2018 also saw new gimmicks for celebration. The usual public Bible reading and Bible parades in barangays and public offices were mixed in with new ideas such as ‘zumba with gospel music’ in Pulilan, Bulacan, Bible massage/facial/hair treatment in Pateros, Dance-a-Parable contests in Malolos, Bulacan, and flash mobs in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Tidings of good fruit
“I was much encouraged by hearing how God’s Word has been a constant refuge for Christ’s followers who are in various industries. My own walk has been strengthened,” commented Kenneth, a Sales Manager from Makati. Kenneth attended a thanksgiving launch called ‘National Bible Day’ which was hosted by Senator Manny Pacquiao and joined by representatives from media, entertainment, business, and church groups. Senator Pacquiao submitted a Senate Bill No. 1270 proposing the last Monday of January every year to be declared as ‘National Bible Day’ and a regular holiday.
In another part of the country, Ptr. John Jalique commented, “We are excited to be in partnership with our provincial government in this endeavor, and to eventually see a transformation here not just in our province but also in our nation through the Word of God.” Ptr. John was among the facilitators of a provincial celebration of NBW in Pangasinan which included a provincial Bible quiz, an outdoor concert, and other various activities.
Dr. Lucero expressed that the NBM activities, especially those suggested by PBS, were aimed to let people hear and appreciate the Bible more. She said, “The more we know about God, the more we will love Him and appreciate Him. Everyone can participate. Let us make reading God’s Word a habit so that even after January has ended, we will love God’s Word daily, and see ourselves learning and applying its principles in our homes, communities, and our service to the country.”