Filipinos in Israel Start Christmas Season in the Holy Land with the Lighting of Christmas Tree

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Ambassador Neal Imperial is joined by former Israeli envoy to the Philippines,
Ambassador Menashe Bar-On, Fr. Michael Grospe, and President of the
Federation of Filipino Community in Israel, Mr. Joeffrey Olayan
in lighting the Christmas Tree (from left to right).


9 December 2014, Tel Aviv, State of Israel - In the spirit of the Yuletide Season, more than 300 members of the Filipino community gathered on the evening of 6 December 2014 at the Terra Sancta School in Tel Aviv-Jaffa for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting organized by the Philippine Embassy in cooperation with St. Anthony's Parish and Filipino organizations in Israel.

Ambassador Neal Imperial, along with former Israeli envoy to the Philippines, Ambassador Menashe Bar-On, President of the Federation of Filipino Community in Israel, Mr. Joeffrey Olayan, and Fr. Michael Grospe, led the community and guests in the lighting ceremony, thus marking the start of Christmas celebration among Filipinos in the Holy Land.

A choral group competition followed shortly after, showcasing popular Christmas carols. Despite the tight competition among the groups, the Couples for Christ was able to defend its title as champion for the third time, while St. Cecilia's Choir and Divine Mercy Choir maintained their positions last year as second and third placers, respectively. The Embassy also held a parol-making contest in which eight Filipino organizations/individuals competed in producing the best and most creative representation of the Philippines' iconic Christmas symbol. BARACO, VISMIN and the Divine Mercy Chapel emerged as the first, second, and third placers, respectively.

During the evening, the guests were also entertained with Christmas songs and dances from the UFFI kids, Ms. Kathleen Eligado, and the first grand champion of X Factor Israel and former caregiver, Ms. Rose "Osang" Fostanes.

The traditional Christmas tree lighting is a much anticipated event among the members of the Filipino community in Israel as it is one of the rare times when their families and friends gather together in the spirit of unity and camaraderie to celebrate one of the most important events in Christianity. What makes Christmas unique and meaningful among Filipinos in the Holy Land is that they are able to celebrate it in the Middle East, practicing and spreading Filipino values and traditions, in the place where it happened more than 2000 years ago. --END--

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                        Ambassador Imperial with the winners of the choral group competition and parol-making contest,
                                                                        Couples for Christ and BARACO