Published December 16, 2013 03:08
Warming Up Tokyo with Filipino Christmas Fun!
By: Melvin Charles O. Dy
December 14, 2013 – The chill winds herald the coming of winter here in Tokyo, but wherever Filipinos go they bring warmth and cheer! On this day, AFSJ and STAC-J organized a Christmas party for Filipino students, workers, and international friends. The venue was also quite apropos: Meguro Catholic Church. Normally, it would have been just a bit too early for a Christmas party, but considering that a lot of people were going back home for the holidays, the timing could not have been better.
At the registration desk, one pays JPY500 for the entrance fee, and receives a Bingo card. Of course, additional Bingo cards were also available for JPY500 each. All proceeds will be sent to the Philippines to ease the lot of victims of Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda), before the end of the year.
At around 17:30, the event kicked off in earnest. Our MCs for the evening were Unico Bautista and Herlyn Alegre. After announcing the official start of the event, they handed the stage over to AFSJ’s current president, Mario Rico Florendo, for the opening address. A short round of introductions from the Filipinos in attendance as well as our international friends, grouping began for the first game, charades!
After the first game was completed, we moved onto the “most exciting part”, as our MC Unico called it – the eating. The party was organized in a potluck style, so there were a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. As the queues snaked their way across the serving area, people began to loosen up and converse over food. There is just something about sharing a meal together that gets people to open up, isn’t there?
Next came the highlight of the evening, Bingo! A staple in many Filipino homes during the holidays and accessible to everyone, it’s a game of luck rather than skill, making it a great choice for eliciting reactions and socializing. Much of the banter exchanged over the game was clichéd, but nonetheless fun. The game was blackout, and towards the end of the round, there was a 3-way neck-and-neck race, each of three players waiting for just one of three different numbers. In the end however, there was only one winner – Mr. Johan Floyd O. Boles won the grand prize.
Our guest of honor, Consul-General Tirol-Ignacio, has always been very supportive of the Filipino students in Japan, and never fails to grace our events with her presence.
The next game was “Bring Me”, in which the idea is to be the first to bring the game master the item which he asked for. Among the requested items were point cards (who owned the most won), alien registration cards, and an oddly-specific amount of JPY135.
Following this was a talk by Mr. Shingo Hashimoto of Tokodai. He had spent a few days in the Philippines helping out with the relief effort after Typhoon Haiyan struck. He said that when he saw footage of the disaster on the news, it struck him deeply and reminded him of the Fukushima disaster. He remembered how the Philippines responded so quickly and generously in those times, and he wanted to give something in return. A fire was lit in his heart, and through various personal contacts, he was able to get to Tacloban to help with the relief effort. His roles were in on-site distribution and crowd management. Those few days were rough, he said, but he was glad that he was able to do something to help the victims. A few days later, he had to take his leave and return to Japan, a little worse for the wear but with a heart fuller for it. Mr. Shingo Hashimoto, we salute and thank you.
Wrapping up the talk, members of the AFSJ executive committee presented a short report on the gathered donations as well as the progress of the second round of donations, which was still ongoing. The previous donations and the ones to follow are directed towards the Philippine Red Cross and Citizens’ Disaster Response Group.
After this solemn story, we continued on to the final round of Bingo. No close contest as in the previous round, as the winner Vhon Monta took the prize with a 2-number lead ahead of the next competitor.
Finally, the gift exchange was conducted. Those who brought gifts to exchange gathered around and, through a game which involved luck and acumen, the gifts exchanged hands. Thanking each other and everyone for the great time, the event was officially drawn to a close by Marie Defeo and Mario Rico Florendo.
Thus ended an evening of food, fun, and games – just the way we like our gatherings. We hope that our international friends were able to get an idea of how we Filipinos celebrate Christmas, and that their hearts were warmed by the time we spent together. We bid you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!