The Embassy of the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur has organized a number of events to help Filipino expats celebrate Christmas away from home.
By Deborah Tobin
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – December 10, 2015
The Embassy of the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur has planned a series of events throughout December to ensure that members of the Filipino community are less homesick at Christmas.
On Sunday, the Kompleks Kraft Theatre was crowded to capacity with ex-pat Filipinos who came to listen to two pop stars from the Philippines at the Pamaskong Handog Christmas concert.
The concert was opened by the Filipino ambassador to Malaysia, J. Eduardo Malaya. The warmth between the ambassador and his community was apparent by the number of people who reached out to touch him as he made his way to the stage and in his tone as he addressed the audience.
The ambassador spoke warmly, assuring the audience that many people at home were thinking of them at this time of year. He also spoke of the deep Catholic beliefs of his home country.
“We must keep Christ in Christmas,” said Malaya
Nicole Reyes came to the concert with a group of 18 other women. She has lived in Kuala Lumpur for five years and has not been back home during that time. She said Christmas is particularly hard for her because she has a large extended family at home and Christmas is a time when they all come together. She is grateful for the efforts of the embassy.
“These events are our chance to get together as a community and celebrate.”
The group of women attend the concert annually, but this year they were particularly excited because they had come to see Jay R, who is also known as the Philippines’ king of R&B.
Reyes admitted that she and her friends are hoping to get close to the heartthrob star.
“I hope he asks me to dance with him on the stage,” she said.
The other singer highly-anticipated singer was Sua Galvez, a finalist in the Philippines Voice competition. She swelled the house with a sing-along of traditional Filipino Christmas songs bringing many of the homesick audience members to tears.
After the concert, Ambassador Malay reflected on his goals for the Christmas festivities.
“What we would like to do here is spread Christmas cheers to our community members, particularly those who would not be able to come home to the Philippines – as well as try to share the Christmas spirit with the larger Malaysian community. Christmas means a lot, particularly to Filipinos. We happen to be the only Christian majority country in this part of the world. I thought that it is important to share, as well, our Christmas traditions.”
The concert was one of a number of events planned by the embassy in the weeks leading up to Christmas. A series of Catholic masses will be held at the embassy over a period of nine days in the tradition of Simbang Gabi. Many Filipinos believe that if you attend all nine masses, you will be granted a wish.
A priest from the Philippines has been brought to Kuala Lumpur by the embassy to celebrate the masses.
Giant parols – traditional Christmas lights brought in from the Philippines – will be lit at the embassy on Dec. 11.