Filipinos’ “heroic sacrifice and service” as well as “simple acts of appreciation and gratitude” manifest the hope that comes with the spirit of Christ’s victory over death, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said in his Easter message.

Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said Filipinos, like the rest of the world, are “bigger” than the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and should still have reason to celebrate Christ’s resurrection despite “an extremely grim situation.”

“Indeed, it is so moving and so heartwarming to see individuals trying to save and protect the life of ailing patients, whose hearts are filled with selfless goodness for others, especially for the sick and the poor, individuals who have the courage to offer heroic service and sacrifice with the clear risk of losing their very own lives. Moreover, we see people of all walks of life, men and women, old and young, manifesting simple acts of appreciation and gratitude to all those who offer their lives so that others may live. Are these not concrete manifestations of the Easter spirit? Looking at all these, isn’t it that our hearts begin to fill up with hope.”

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said Easter 2020 was unexpected because there was no “Salubong” or the traditional encounter of the images of the risen Christ and the Blessed Mother, as well as celebration among friends and family.

But the faithful should be open to be “surprised by God,” much like the apostles during the “unexpected” resurrection of Christ, he said.

Pabillo said Filipinos would rise as a stronger people from the pandemic.

“We will rise up, hopefully not to go back to our former way of life. We will rise up stronger and more confident. We will rise up with greater care for our health and our families. We will rise up strengthened in our relationships. Most especially, we will rise up with greater trust in our God who never leaves us and who sustains us in difficult times.”

Pabillo said the quarantine period was “hard,” but Filipinos have lived through it “renewed and with new realizations in life.”

“It has given us new life. Let not the monotony of the quarantine put off the joy of Easter.”