With a growing community of people from the Philippines living in Williams Lake this year’s Christmas dinner required renting a hall.
Filipinos and guests of all ages enjoyed food, entertainment, a visit with Santa, the opportunity to share their talents at the Sacred Heart Catholic School gym on Saturday, Dec. 17.
Beth Neville chairs the local Filipino Society and organized the event along with society members Maricor del Rosario, a pharmacist at Save-on-Foods and Shelly Llanera, a manager at Tim Hortons.
“We have 188 people registered to attend tonight,” Neville said, as she hurried around making sure everything was good to go.
Llanera said the event had received a great amount of business support with donations of dozens of raffle prizes and gifts that lined a table below the stage.
Grasya Blackall had a booth set up against the gym wall to mimic a small store.
She moved to Williams Lake 13 years ago and is married to Casey Blackall from Williams Lake.
They live on Eagle Crescent and she recently opened a Filipino store at their home after getting her business license.
It did not take long for everything to be taken from the mock store as she encouraged people to do so.
Lourdes Lehitimas works at the Williams Lake Plywood Plant along with several other Filipinos.
For the party she contributed a traditional coconut pudding called Maja Blanca for the dessert table.
“It is made with coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk and a bit of sugar,” she said.
Her version included some kernels of corn and a touch of grated white soft cheese sprinkled on the top.
MC Joelou Lindog works at Staples and has been in Williams Lake four-and-a-half years.
Announcing each aspect of the celebration, Lindog was very enthusiastic and welcoming.
Lindog invited Mayor Surinderpal Rathor to the stage to share some words.
“Please give a round of applause for yourselves for the hard work you do,” Rathor said, as he encouraged everyone to stay involved with the community and help their neighbours. “If you can make one person happy, it’s your best day, trust me.”
Akina Galvez and her husband Jefferson have been in Williams Lake three years and both work at McDonalds who sponsored them to come to Canada.
They ordered special clothes from the Philippines for themselves and their three children to wear to the party.
At the entrance to the hall there was an area with a backdrop to have photographs taken which depicted the words Paskong Pinoy which means Merry Christmas.
After they paused for a photograph and thanked the Tribune for taking it, Akina said “we are so happy.”
Before dinner, there was a slideshow with Christmas greetings and cards from many families in the community.
There was lots of entertainment including a group of four boys who did a hip-hop dance, a traditional song sung by Akina Galvez, and a powerful rendition of O Holy Night in English sung by Celeste Landicho and two songs performed by a large group of women in attendance.
The party lasted in total six hours, and Neville said when she announced it was time to clean up, everyone pitched in and it was all done in half an hour.
“We help each other men and women and even big kids they help,” Neville added. “We have a food group, a decoration group, entertainment, so they know their responsibilities.”
While it was a lot of work, it paid off, Neville said, adding how grateful she was for the “really” hard work of Maricor del Rosario and Shelly Llanera.