What would Saint Francis think of the entries to the Belen contest? After all, he started the tradition of the “creche” (Belen) that quickly spread all over the world. Which entry would he choose?

Rich in variety, there are those with rustic scenery, some with ultra elegant characters, cute versions for kids. The indoor set-ups outnumber the outdoor displays. There is a Filipino diorama-like belen, with a lechon being roasted. And another that is 100 years old! The igloo belen has a polar bear and a walrus. A train chugs around another belen, and in a rare depiction: Saint Joseph half-kneeling, holding the infant Jesus, while the Blessed Mother is fast asleep.

There are displays that give a peaceful feeling, some may make you smile, and a few may bring tears. Especially after reading the stories:

“This nativity scene was a gift of my Tito Roly to my Lola 30+ years ago. This year she asked me to not put the Christmas tree any more because of the floods that happened in our house caused by the typhoon Uysses. However, my Lola and I decided to still set up the belen because of that nativity scene, Christmas and the birth of our lord is celebrated all around the world. Despite the damages brought by the past typhoons and the ongoing pandemic, we are reminded by the belen to always have hope in our Lord, our true source of Light and hope.” – Bismark Garcia

Our family’s Belen this year is to pay tribute to all the Frontliners during this pandemic. “Dahil sa Frontliners kaya tayo magdidiwang ng Pasko. Sila ang nagbantay para siguradong makakapag-Pasko tayo.” – Anthony Benipayo

“This is our belen in UP PGH. Since the pandemic started, I have lived near my workplace. It has been my home. I and my co-frontliners seldom go home, to protect our family. This belen was set up by the hospital’s decor team in the atrium of our hospital. Whenever we pass by it, we are reminded to be joyful even if we are struggling, to be hopeful even if life is dim, to believe, because our God believes in us and comes to us. Thanks po.” – Mervyn Perez

Watch the video. We tend to think Saint Francis will be happy with each belen. The last one would probably make him smile.

#NSOLLPH

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