Filipinos enjoy ‘Broadway’ Simbang Gabi in New York
NEW YORK – As the Catholic churches in the Philippines observe the nine days of dawn masses before Christmas, the Philippine Consulate General of New York concluded its 34th year of holding evening masses sponsored by nonprofit community organizations, in quintessential Broadway style. As they say, “Only in New York!”
With the theme, “Magdiwang, Magpasalamat at Magkaisa” (Celebrate, Be Grateful and Unite) the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado (SGK) celebrated its 34th year with the collective participation of 105 Filipino American community organizations that assumed assigned roles over the nine-day celebration. A nightly banquet is served for over 100 guests attending the masses open to public.
The eighth day, Dec 12 also celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe by Fr. Julian Jagudilla, OFM of the St Francis of Assisi of NYC, as a reminder to the immigrant communities to embrace each other regardless of the race. He heads the Migrant Center that provides free services to immigrants needing help at the Big Apple, including migrants that arrived by the bus loads from Texas. (To visit their website for migrant information: https://stfrancisnyc.org/)
New organizations and some Filipino businesses joined this year’s SGK. Raffle prizes were drawn each night from $100 gift cards to balikbayan boxes. The last day was marked with “Panunuluyan,” a reenactment of Mother Mary’s trip to Bethlehem with St Joseph, where she gave birth to the Messiah, and the Three Kings visiting the Baby Jesus at the manger. “Panunuluyan” has been an annual presentation by JCI of New York.
Opening the SGK is a blessing of parol, with a special message delivered by assigned groups for each night. The last night celebrated by Fr Patrick Longalong was highlighted by songs rendered by Broadway Barkada on stage of Kalayaan Hall, followed by musical performances during the reception. The Philippine Center Hall has been converted into a chapel setting for the nine days of masses.
Consul General Elmer Cato, who served New York and the East Coast for a year and a half, made his farewell speech as he is headed to a new post in Milan, while Deputy Consul General Arman Talbo also said his goodbye to the Filipino community which he served concurrently as the Manager of the Philippine Center. His 6-year term has likewise come to an end.
Newly appointed Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, former Philippine Ambassador to UK, now Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Mission, joined the community festivities and congratulated everyone for a timely and meaningful celebration, an expression of gratitude and unity of the Filipino Americans this Advent season.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Center is proudly adorned by two gigantic Pampanga parol brought by the Provincial Government of Pampanga through Consul General Elmer Cato and the Department of Tourism. Governor Dennis Pineda was represented by his sister Mayor Esmeralda Pineda of Lubao, Pampanga during the lighting. The display is on until December 31, 2022.