Christmas Season among Filipinos in the Holy Land Begins with the Lighting of Christmas Tree

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Charge d'Affaires Pamela F. Durian-Bailon (fourth from left), along with (from right to left) Rev. Fr. David

Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for St. James Vicariate for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel and

Coordinator of the Pastoral Care for Migrant Workers, Fr. Zaher Abboud, Director of Terra Sancta

High School in Jafffa, and Mr. Jeoffrey Olayan, President of the Federation of Filipino

Communities in Israel, leads the Filipino community in the lighting of Christmas tree.


7 December 2015, Tel Aviv, State of Israel – The Philippine Embassy, in cooperation with St. Anthony's Parish and Filipino organizations in Israel, held the 6th Annual Lighting of the Christmas Tree on 5 December 2015 at the Terra Sancta School in Tel Aviv-Jaffa to mark the beginning of the Christmas season.

Charge d'Affaires Pamela F. Durian-Bailon welcomed around 250 members of the Filipino community, Israeli guests, and friends of the Embassy who gathered for the joyous occasion.

Rev. Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, the Partriarchal Vicar for St. James Vicariate for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel, Coordinator of the Pastoral Care for Migrant Workers and Asylum Seekers, and the guest of honor during the event, talked to the audience about preparing themselves to receive Jesus who is God's greatest gift this Christmas and sharing this wonderful gift of love to everyone.

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 Right photo: Charge d'Affaires Durian-Bailon and Mr. Uri Ben-Ami, representative of Phil-Globe DBP Remittance Center,
 with the representative of Batangas Raging Colligation, winner of the parol-making contest. Left photo: Charge d'Affaires
             Durian-Bailon and Mr. with the Filipino Cultural Society in Israel, champion of the choral group competition.
 

The lighting of the Christmas tree was followed by a choral group competition wherein 5 groups showcased popular Christmas carols. The winners included the Filipino Cultural Society in Israel (champion), St. Francis Choir (1st runner-up), and St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Community Rehovot (2nd runner-up). The Embassy also help a parol-making contest which showcased the Filipinos' ingenuity and creativity through "parols" made out of recyclable materials. Of the 10 entries, the following emerged as winners: Batangas Raging Colligation (1st prize), Israel OFW Association (2nd prize), and a tie between Cagayan Valley Association in Israel, and the Filipino Cultural Society in Israel for the 3rd prize.

The program also included a variety of performances by the E-Force kids, Couples for Christ Ministry Choir, champion of the coral group competition for three consecutive years (2012-2014), Ms. Kathleen Eligado, Mr. Danny Budisky, Ms. Rose "Osang" Fostanes. At the end of the program, an Embassy staff wearing a Santa Clause costume distributed gifts to children

Following the Filipino tradition of celebrating Christmas, everyone who attended the event shared together a warm and sumptuous dinner consisting of Filipino delicacies and dishes.--END--

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Officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, State of Israel.