Filipino Christmas in New York Returns with Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado
New York City — Christmas celebration in the Filipino community has started with more glee and solidarity with the revival of the traditional Simbang Gabi (dawn masses) early December at the Philippine Center on 5th Avenue.
After a two-year hiatus, the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado (SGK) is back on its 27th year, as community organizations ceaselessly petitioned for its return. The delighted Filipino community resumed the nine-day Christmas novena on December 4 to 12, celebrating it with holy masses and buffet of Filipino food and pastries, reminiscent of how Christmas is celebrated in homeland Philippines.
“I like that it is back. It truly feels like Christmas. And good to see friends during the mass and salo-salo,” said Myrna Diez, from Queens.
During its opening day, Consul General Mario De Leon acknowledged the efforts of the community. “This is a display of faith at work.” He thanked the organizations and individuals who never tired from requesting, coordinating with the diocese and sending petitions to have the Filipino Christmas custom back in the Consulate.
The archbishop of New York Timothy Cardinal Dolan sent his approval of its return last September in response to the community’s request.
After the Consulate announced its return, the planning committee started meeting in September. As a sign of solidarity and unity, the ConGen cited that 45 organizations bonded together to sponsor the masses, program and fellowship during each of the nine nights. He noted with praise that the community is faithful in observing the religious tradition and expressed his hope for the younger generations to carry on the celebration of the Simbang Gabi and Panunuluyan year after year. He further encouraged the mass-goers to offer the novena prayers for the safety of the Philippines and the Filipinos in light of the incoming storm Hagupit/Ruby.
Each of the evening starts with a recital of the rosary at 6 PM and followed by a reflection video on the Nativity verse, and the celebration of the Eucharist. On the last day, a live re-enactment of the Panunuluyan will be staged. A simple community fellowship and light dinner salo-salo proceeds at the Gallery Lobby, which includes caroling and gift-giving.
The mass on the first night was celebrated by Father Patrick Longalong, who also served as the SGK Planning Committee Spiritual Director. Papal Nuncio to the United Nations and Boholano Archbishop Bernadito Auza presided the mass on the third day.
For the first time, SGK is recorded and broadcast on live streaming via Handang Tumulong President Troi Santos’ YouTube account. (With photos and press release from the Philippine Consulate in New York).
Jose Mari Chan and Kay Habana Pull Off Heartwarming Concert
Philippine composer-singer Jose Mari Chan held a concert in Atlantic City, New Jersey dubbed as “Going Home to Christmas” on December 6 with guest NYC’s singer chef and OSM! writer Ms. Kay Habana and the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir.
The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino was packed with JM’s fans who continue to marvel at his old time compositions: Can We Stop and Talk Awhile, Beautiful Girl, Tell Me Your Name, and Perfect Christmas.
JM sang with the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir in the concert finale. We share this video created by Blue Sevilla. Please click on the link. (Photos by Ria Serrano and Carlo Zenarosa)