It’s bonding time of year for Fil-Ams in NY and NJ
“Sakay na!”, a jeepney standup display, side by side with a nipa hut, welcoming all the visitors of the Philippine Consulate General of New York to a heart-warming salu-salo after traditional Simbang Gabi Masses for nine consecutive nights. In jeepney photo (left to right) are Fr Patrick Longalong and Manila-based priest Fr. Rogie Castellano, C.P. Ambassador Mario Lopez De Leon Jr (center nipa hut) is an active mover of the Filcom organizations. INQUIRER/Carol Tanjutco
NEW YORK — It’s that bonding time of the year again, a back to back nine-day celebration of (evening Masses) planned by 70 Filipino community organizations and corporate sponsors at New York, followed by Church-celebrated Masses throughout the city until Christmas eve. No conflicts, just a smooth flow of the annual tradition observed by Fil-Ams in the northeast tri-state area.
Fr. Patrick Longalong, the spiritual adviser of the annual Simbang Gabi, concelebrated the last day of the Mass at Kalayaan Hall, PCGNY with Manila-based Fr. Rogie Castellano, C.P. who will be at Manhattan Fordham University for the next three years, completing his degree for Pastoral Counselling.
They announced the upcoming National Association of the Filipino Priests Convention in New York, with more than 300 Filipino priests attending, happening in 2020, and the preparation for the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
Chef Philippe (left) carved and served lechon to Mass attendees. Consul General Theresa Dizon De Vega awarded the grand raffle winner of PAL round-trip ticket to Sergio Canayon (right ) of Middle Village, Queens, New York. INQUIRER/Carol Tanjutco
The active Fil-Am organizations in the northeast plan these events with the clergy way in advance to ensure an extensive outreach. As shown in the just concluded nine days of evening masses, an unprecedented number of community groups, organizations, volunteers and corporate sponsors came forward to support the annual Christmas tradition.
The venue Kalayaan Hall held up to a standing room only crowd rhythmically donning red and green outfits each night. Festive feasts or “salu-salo” followed each Mass hosted by the assigned groups, with nightly raffle drawings and give-aways.
This year’s grand raffle prize was a round-trip ticket to Manila from New York, valid for six months, donated by Philippine Airlines, a frequent sponsor of Fil-Am events in New York City. Unilever, represented by Mylz Tolentino, gave away mini capiz “parol” lanterns to the delight of attendees. Boxes of wrapped gift items were raffled each night donated by participating organizations. Western Union and Philippine National Bank gave away free money remittance certificates and bags of goodies. It was Santa Claus’ night every night.
NY Consul General Theresa Dizon De Vega remarked in closing, “With hearts full of gratitude and renewed spirits we thank all our priest celebrants, our Spiritual Adviser Fr. Patrick Longalong, sponsoring organizations– a record of 70 in all, all the volunteers, mass participants, choirs, cantors, caterers, and attendees–this is what Simbang Gabi is all about – a community coming together – we wish you a happy, peaceful and meaningful holiday season!”
Meanwhile, just as the Philippine Consulate General of New York ended the 9th day Mass, St. Francis of Assisi Church of New York City is starting Day 1 on Friday, Dec. 15th until Dec. 23rd, culminating with a Christmas party celebration on the last day for the 36-year-old Ugnayang Filipino Migrant Center at the Church annexed San Damiano Hall. Sponsors of raffle prizes likewise await the attendees. The nine days of Simbang Gabi start at 6:15 p.m., except on Sunday, at 4:30 p.m. All are welcome.