Members of Fil-Am community attending the first of the nine-day Simbang Gabi at the Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center on 4 December 2010.


The Paskong Pilipino celebrations have started in New York, highlighted by three major events marking the observation of the Christmas season by the Filipino-Americans in New York and other nearby states.  These events were the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado the lighting of the giant Philippine parols (dubbed as Stars of Hope) held at the Philippine Center and the Simbang Gabi sa Katedral, held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


1.    Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado


On the night of 9 December, Thursday, the first of the nine-day traditional Simbang Gabi was held at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.  A joint project of the Philippine Consulate General, Philippine Center and about 40 Filipino-American organizations in the States of New York and New Jersey, this year marks the 25th year of the Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado, which has become a much-awaited annual event every Christmas season for the Filipino-American community.


The Kalayaan Hall, festive with a Christmas Tree and 25-year-old Philippine Parols, is  in SRO capacity for nine evenings. After each Mass, Filipino-Americans remain and spend time to bond with each other and partake of traditional Filipino foods and delicacies served at the Philippine Center lobby. The Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado will end on 17 December.



Fr.  Rene Mangahas officiating the first  Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado.


2.    Stars of Hope at Fifth Avenue


Six giant Philippine parols (dubbed as Stars of Hope) are once more on display at the Philippine Center windows facing Fifth Avenue to spread Christmas cheers and showcase the Pampanga masterpieces. Lighted on 24 November just before the Thanksgiving weekend, the colorful, bright, flashing giant Philippine parols have caught the attention of many tourists at 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York. People would stop by the window of the Philippine Center to have their photos taken with these giant Philippine parols.


Mr. Ernesto Quiwa, a master craftsman from San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines, led a team that made these special Christmas lanterns.


The project to make these giant parols in Pampanga and ship them to New York City for display at the Philippine Center was realized last year through the joint efforts of the Philippine Consulate General, then Mayor Oscar Rodriguez of San Fernando, Pampanga, former Secretary Edgardo Pamintuan, Mr. Jose Victor Luciano, President of Clark International Airport, and Mr. Elmer Cato, former First Secretary of the Philippine Mission to the UN.  The Christmas lanterns finally arrived at the Philippine Center on 23 December 2009 and were lighted and displayed the next day.



Giant Philippine parols at the Philippine Center lighted on 24 November 2010.



Six  giant parols (Stars of Hope) made in Pampanga, Philippines are displayed at  the Philippine Center window,  Fifth Avenue, New York.


3.    New York- New Jersey–Connecticut  Celebrate Christmas with Simbang Gabi.

About 100 churches in the New York – New Jersey – Connecticut have confirmed and announced that they will be holding their own Simbang Gabi celebration. Most will hold the Masses in the evenings but a number will have the real dawn Mass at 5:30 am.


To start the season, the one-evening Simbang Gabi sa Katedral was celebrated on the 4th of  December at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Now on its 4th year, the  celebration of this unique Filipino tradition at the Cathedral, is viewed as a recognition of the strong Filipino-American Catholic community in New York.  .


No less than Archbishop of New York Edward Cardinal Egan served as the Simbang Gabi’s main celebrant and homilist.  In his sermon, Cardinal Egan highlighted the strong Catholic faith of the Filipino-Americans and commended them for continuing the wonderful tradition of Simbang Gabi outside the Philippines.  He also shared his fond memories of the Philippines and called on more Filipino-Americans to join the priesthood.


This year’s theme of the Simbang Gabi was "Ang Belen: A Picture Perfect of Obedience and Humility.” A procession was held before the mass displaying various images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Santo Niño.  Eighty-one little girls and 70 little boys also joined the parade as angels and shepherds along with some sponsors called Hemanos and Hermanas.  The officials, staff and volunteers of New York City-based San Lorenzo Ruiz Church, headed by Fr. Joseph Marabe, spearheaded the Simbang Gabi sa Katedral.



Archbishop of  New York Edward Cardinal Egan celebrating the Simbang Gabi  sa  Katedral at  St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York  on 04 December  2010.



Fr. Joseph Marabe with the members of the Fil-Am communities from New  York, New  Jersey and Connecticut  after  the Simbang Gabi sa Katedral.

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