Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association of Tristate Area, Inc. (OLPDA,) held this year’s fun-filled Christmas celebration at Our Lady of Victory Church in New Jersey last Saturday on December 20, 2008. With the able leadership of Amado (Boy) Cabaero, OLPDA’s current chairman, the occasion brought warmth to Bicolanos and friends who came for the event from New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The meaningful gathering of Bicolanos focused on the Filipino-American family in humble imitation of the holy life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It brought recall the message of faith, hope, and charity which characterize the gladness of the year-end religious holiday.
In an evening of fellowship, friendship, and fun, the event opened with the singing of the national anthems with Virgie Jacobson and Ben Silerio on the podium. It was followed by a sacred invocation and prayers led by Msgr. Jeremias Rebanal, JCD, the group’s spiritual adviser.
Genevieve del Rosario and Virgie Jacobson, the emcees of the evening made sure the scrumptious traditional dinner was served with style and excitement. It was capped with moments of merry conversations and dancing which stretched to the late hours of the evening.
Marfo Manibay brought in the trendy Christmas music that filled the air. Rosalyn Sapalico, Cora Velasco, and Dina Cabaero took charge of the family games. Arnel Binlayo headed the kid’s group of Jersey City. Santa Claus (Butch los Banos of Albay,) in a fiery red costume of the benevolent man from North Pole, played games and gave away gifts to the delight of innocent children enthralled by the sights and sounds of the occasion.
Braving the pinching cold of the icy slush outside (the wet wind of the blustery weather was still blowing over the freshly laden snow,) Josie Anciano-Mendoza, Peng Pena, Tony Rojano, Annie Binaday, Efren Zagada, Lena Nidea, Marietta Mesia, and other ardent Penafrancia devotees were among the early attendees along with Fe Manibay and Chito Velasco who brought along Allen Nidea with children Angeline and Franco.
Brimming with hospitality, Ben Silerio and wife Thelma made sure the guests were in their comfortable places in the company of old and new friends in that capacious social hall bedecked with bright lights, balloons, and the season’s festive colors. Invaluable support came from Dina Briones, Rudy Alcantara, Nylda Surban, Offie Ante and many more who made the night truly especial.
OLPDA adviser Lita Pena and her affable guests came just in time that Gigette Revilleza, Chi Pilar, Rene and Lily Villegas stepped in to greet their respective friends. Their arrival heightened the festive mood of the affair which antedates the planned grand Bicol National Association (BNA) convention slated in July next year.
Towards the close of the event, an impromptu Christmas caroling was initiated by the group which pulled together the voices of revelers in a burst of songs.
With Totie Mesia at the piano, the community singing heard by God in the heavens had Fr. Joe Saltarin and Genevieve del Rosario stirring the crowd to a rousing rendition of nostalgic favorites like Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, Silver Bells, and O Holy Night.
The winsome music welded the bonds of those present. Vice-chairwoman Carmen Oliver who made sure everyone was happy delivered the remarks that ended the memorable evening, making it among the most cherished in years.
It was clear Carmen like all the rest had nothing in mind but the peace, love, and joy for all. =0=
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
“O samuyang Diyos, tugutan mo lugod
Na samong mahiling ang totoo mong pagkamoot
Kami kupkupon mo, irayo mo tabi
Sa pagtios sagkod sa paghadit.”