As the Philippines marks National Bible Day today, politicians in the predominantly Christian nation say the observance has never been more important. God’s Word offers much-needed guidance and hope, they say, especially during the pandemic.
In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law designating the last Monday of every January as National Bible Day. “The government shall aid and encourage development of the moral character and spiritual foundation of the Filipino people,” reads the Act, which “recognizes the value of the Holy Bible as the core of Christian faith.” About 93 percent of Filipinos are Christians, and most are Catholic.
‘Our country needs the Lord’
Several senators addressed the importance of God’s Word and the observance. Senator Joel Villanueva, whose father Eddie Villanueva heads the Jesus Is Lord Church Worldwide, calls National Bible Day “a national celebration” of the citizenry’s faith. “It is indeed impossible to govern a nation without the Word of God,” the senator tweeted. “The Holy Scripture is life for those who find them and health or medicine to our flesh.”
Sen. Villanueva adds that COVID-19 and the resulting loneliness have left many Filipinos feeling lost. “This is the reason why we should…encourage them to read the Bible to learn wisdom and find hope and experience the transformative power of the Word of God,” he says. The senator has spoken about grieving his mother and sister, both of whom recently died.
Boxer-turned-Senator Manny Pacquiao also noted the significance of National Bible Day 2021. “This pandemic has been testing our faith and our strength as a nation,” he says, “but it could not stop us from finding opportunities to share the biblical teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ… Today, more than ever, our country needs the Lord.” Pacquiao praised churches for creatively adapting to health-related closures, using online worship “so that we can continue reaching more people for the Lord even during lockdowns.”
‘We know where our heart is’
After thanking Villanueva and Pacquiao for spearheading the National Bible Day legislation, Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa said, “When I discovered that my daughter and I contracted the deadly virus, instead of feeling neglected and questioning our faith, I turned to the Bible. In that very moment, I felt healed.” He added, “As we celebrate National Bible Day, we are reminded that no matter what sickness, trial, or tribulation we face, we know where to put our treasure. We know where our heart is. We put our trust in God.”
The speaker lineup for National Bible Day 2021 also included David Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Programme, and Rick Warren, author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California. In a video posted to YouTube, Warren shares leadership lessons from Proverbs and urges leaders to invest in God’s Word and in God’s people—two things that will last.
Warren says he misses his friends in the Philippines, where Saddleback has a satellite campus near Manila. In 2012, the pastor said of Pacquiao: “What most people don’t know about Manny is that he has more of the Bible memorized than many pastors do. He not only quotes the Bible from memory; he applies it to his life.”