By Ben Rosario
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary celebrated on December 8 of each year by all Catholic faithful throughout the world is now a special nonworking holiday in the Philippines.
President Duterte made this possible by signing Republic Act 10966 in observance of the Immaculate Conception of St. Mary, the principal patroness of the Philippines.
House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, principal author of the House version of the measure, lauded Duterte’s approval of the enrolled bill on December 28.
Aside from the Philippines, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is also being celebrated by Catholic churches in Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Spain, United States, Canada, and other countries.
Catholic leaders said the Immaculate Conception day is considered one of the most important Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar of the church.
Marian devotion is considered strongest in the Philippines. In fact, St. Mary is considered the patroness of the country.
Fariñas, a Marian devotee and known by his colleagues for hearing Mass at least twice a day, said among the titles under which Mary is venerated in the country, the Immaculate Conception is one of the most prominent and its feast highly observed by members of the Catholic Church.
The House official noted that Philippines is predominantly Catholic and is considered the third with the biggest population of Catholic faithful in the world. He said a 2013 survey showed that there are 76-million Catholic Filipinos.
Senate Bill 1430 is the approved counterpart of the bill. It was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, himself a Marian devotee.