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By Mel Fernandez

You could say that no one loves Christmas more than the Filipinos, because they start gearing up for the season before anyone else – about five months in advance.

The festive decorations, promotions and the blasting of carols in the malls, for example, are conspicuous from as early as September and it only gets more intense as the months roll by.

By early December Metro Manila (the streets of Makati in particular) and other cities around the country are resplendent with holiday decorations – giant Christmas trees, spectacular light shows and there are the ubiquitous street food festivals and a host of festive events around every corner.

It is noteworthy that the Philippines is the only Asian country where Christians predominate and the majority of its people are Roman Catholic – 80% of them. So it goes without saying that Christmas is close to their hearts and is celebrated on a grand scale by Filipinos in the Philippines and wherever they may reside around the world.

The good news is that things are also buzzing for Pinoys in little old New Zealand. Take Christchurch for example, there have been back to back Christmas events and food festivals since November of this year. As one business vendor mentioned to FMN: “I can’t even keep track of which events I’ve joined – there are just too many happening around town.”

A key event for the festive season down south was the 2019 Global Christmas event held on 7th December at Ray Blank Park in Christchurch. It was organised by the Philippine Culture and Migrants Services, led by Delar Richards. The group also participated in the Multi Media Communications Santa Parade on 8 December in the city centre.

The Philippine FACES community group also participated in the aforementioned Santa Parade, after which everyone proceeded to the Catholic Cathedral College for ‘Paskuhan sa Christchurch’, featuring food, games and a host of local entertainers. The bands who performed were: Smokogang, The Anomaly, Maharlika, Sixpinz Plus, 4 Stars and Sun, Tinig 1925, Cinco Plus, plus Kurt Lorenz Mordeno and the Hester and Lito Duo.

Last but not least is the Christmas Street Food Night Market coming up on 14 December 2019 at the Catholic Cathedral College in Christchurch. The event is organised by the Bayanihan Filipino Market Family and features food, games and music by the Maharlika Band.

Meanwhile in Wellington the annual ‘Pasko: The Filipino Christmas Festival’ is also scheduled for 14 December at the Filipino Community Centre. One of the highlights of the ‘Pasko’ Festival is the ‘parol’ contest.

Also on the 14th of December is ‘Pasko Sa Nayon’, to be held at the Garden Place in Hamilton. This event will feature carols, food and a parol display organised by the Waikato Filipino Association.

In terms of the scale of preparations, participation and involvement by the majority of Filipino community groups in Auckland the ‘Parol 2019’ event held on 30 November at the Ellen Melville Centre is without doubt the winner. It was organised by husband and wife team Reign and Sam Dignadice with the support of various community groups. (photos featured in this edition plus a podcast at: www.halohalo.nz)

Maligayang Pasko!