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AFCS-YG Christmas in Our Hearts “Pasko sa Casey”, a musical and spiritual yuletide treat

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Maria Smith
Maria Smith
Maria Smith is the former Chairperson of the Australian Filipino Community Services, a non-profit organisation based in Victoria.

For the first time in 25 years, the Young Generation Filipino Seniors Citizens Club of the South-East (YG) teamed up with the Australian-Filipino Community Services (AFCS) on December 17 in response to the request of Melbourne’s Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo to put together Pasko sa Casey, Christmas in Our Hearts as part of the harmonised Christmas celebrations.  

(L-R) AFCS Ebony Farquhar, Con-Gen Salcedo, JPH Committee Chair Oates
(L-R) AFCS Ebony Farquhar, Con-Gen Salcedo, JPH Committee Chair Oates PHOTO: Supplied

AFCS Spiritual Director Pastor Eric Maliwat did an amazing job presenting each part of the historic event at the John Pandazopolous Hall (JPH) in Doveton. JPH Management Committee Chairperson Brian Oates expressed his happiness with AFCS-YG teaming up for a bigger and more enjoyable Christmas celebration for Filipinos and other community groups in the City of Casey.  

YG President Norma Patrizi and AFCS CEO Corina Dutlow thanked guests and officers and reiterated organisational missions to support families while emphasising the birth of Jesus as the main reason to celebrate with children invited to the parol (lantern) making, colouring and other fun activities.

YG members and officers
YG members and officers PHOTO: Supplied

Melbourne’s Consul Jan Sherwin Wenceslao congratulated officers for this remarkable achievement to ‘bring home’ traditional Filipino Christmas celebrations such as the Queen Victoria Market’s Pasko sa Melbourne and those in Geelong, Ballarat, Gippsland and Warrnambool.  Consul Wenceslao also shared how the Filipinos receive praise for inviting multicultural groups and encouraged attendees to visit the PCG office for dual citizenship and election voting rights/responsibilities, among others.

(L-R) Pastor Maliwat, YG President Patrizi, JPH Committee Chair, Consul Wenceslao, AFCS CEO Dutlow
(L-R) Pastor Maliwat, YG President Patrizi, JPH Committee Chair, Consul Wenceslao, AFCS CEO Dutlow. PHOTO: Supplied

Pasko sa Casey was presented beautifully by Theatrical Manager-Emcee Pastor Maliwat, who led the premiere Australian presentation of some excerpts from Ang Pinakadakilang Handog (The Greatest Gift) Christmas Cantata (original version) by Ed Dimangondayao. 

The amazing musical was unique as it included three different dance presentations with the choir singing along Papuri sa Diyos (Praise God) followed by an interpretative “praiseformance” from AFCS SaYahweh participants to the song Bituing Natatangi (The Unique Star) with principal dance choreographers Babie Grant and Ebony Farquhar leading the dance presentations respectively. The Knox Wellness Group seniors concluded with colourful hand movements led by former AFCS cultural choreographer Lourdes “Mommy Ludy” De Llamas while the choir sang Ang Pinakadakilang Handog. The community is singing along to Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts.

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Special mention likewise to the team of Sa Libis ng Nayon, There’s a Kind of Hush and Pandanggo Rinconada dancers; the karoling participants (that included everyone!) and major Cantata participants YG Vice President Rod Bagon (as Joseph) and Heide Faustino (as Mary), among others.

Rod Bagon (as Joseph) and Heidi Faustino (as Mary), with Santa
Rod Bagon (as Joseph) and Heidi Faustino (as Mary), with Santa PHOTO: Supplied

YG Christmas tradition continued with community dancing and a generous serving of mouth-watering Filipino cuisine, gifts to new migrants, generous raffle prizes given away, and singing with cakes for December birthday celebrants. Father Christmas walked in ‘from the North Pole’ to the delight of excited children, with myriads of presents that included “Amelia’s Bear Hug” teddies (thanks to donor Brian Smith) to go with bags of Christmas goodies. There were also ‘sack race’, ‘statue dance’ and other activities providing a much-needed break for delighted parents.

With Pastor Maliwat inspiring around 300 attendees with his spiritual messages through the night, this globally streamlined event came to an exhilarating end with AFCS-YG officers, members and dedicated volunteers harmoniously working together to clean/wrap up, portraying once more the true essence of ‘Christmas in our hearts’ that was a real yuletide treat for Filipino-Australians in the City of Casey. 

Maria Smith
Maria Smith
Maria Smith is the former Chairperson of the Australian Filipino Community Services, a non-profit organisation based in Victoria.

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