November 30, 2001

PASACAT Presents a Philippine Christmas Experience

Ask a Filipino the best time of year to see the Philippines, they will always respond, Christmas time. "It's festive, colorful, and the aroma of delicacies create memorable experiences," reminisced Tessie Cruz, PASACAT Treasurer. "The whole town would come together and decorate the streets in preparation for various religious feasts. A sense of family would be felt as children would visit their ninongs and ninangs (godparents) and greet them with the gesture of respect —the mano po— taking the back of an elder's hand and placing it on their foreheads," Cruz continued with a gleam in her eyes.

“Dance of the Lights” shows the skill as the women balance glasses with candles – one on top of their head and the other on the back of each hand. The audience joins the dance y clapping their hands to the rhythm of the music.

PASACAT hopes to capture this experience at the Parol Festival, on Saturday, December 1, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at St. Rita's Church, 5115 Churchward Avenue, San Diego. This multi-generational festival includes a merienda, performance by the PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company and pabitin for children ten years old and under. Exhibits of Philippine textiles, costumes, musical instruments and books from PASACAT's 30 year collection will also, be displayed.

The Parol Festival will open with a merienda, of pansit, lumpia and pandesal. Guests will then have an opportunity to view the exhibits as well as those of the bahay kubo, bamboo hut, and life-size caribou made of paper mache constructed and donated by Rudy A. Alquero.

The PASACAT sixty-minute program will consist of three suites of dances and music performed by forty-five dancers, eight vocalists and five musicians. The first suite, Flair Hispanico reflects the aristocratic Spanish influence. The second suite, Jewels from Mindanao, illustrates the richness of the Muslim's of Mind-anao. A new choreography of Malong, a tubular skirt worn by both men and women will close this suite.

Spanish influences have made Filipinos a people of faith and culture. The traditional star lanterns of the Christmas season hung in front of homes, provided a pathway of light for farmers to make their way to church for “Simban Gabi,” a novena of masses in preparation for Christmas.

The final suite, Paskohan, depicts the Philippine Christmas in the countryside. Since 1992, PASACAT has added a varied selection of songs to their already strong repertoire of dances. The popularity of the singing aspects have moved PASACAT to develop the Harana Singers who will make their public performance debut at this year's PASACAT Parol Festival in five Christmas songs. The popular Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit and Pasko Na Nam-an, describe the arrival of Pasko (Christmas) and remind us it is a time to give thanks. The merienda after Midnight Mass is described in the joyful Noche Buena. Payapang Daigdig (peaceful world) is the equivalent of Silent Night. The challenging choral arrangement to be performed is Simbang Gabi by Lucio San Pedro. An exhilarating piece in which the church bells are depicted as they sing of the traditions of respect, the Belen (or Bethlehem) and the Three Kings, and Simbang Gabi, a novena of nine masses at dawn in preparation of Christmas.

The songs will be interspersed with popular dances including Pandango Sa llaw-Oasioas (dance of the lights), Tinikling (bamboo dance) and a tribute to the parol in Sayaw sa Parol. The parols are the five-point star' traditionally made of bamboo frames and colorful papel de japon (Japanese paper). PASACAT will also display their collection of illuminated parols from the Philippines designed in a kaleidoscope of color and made of the delicate capiz shells.

The festival will conclude with the pabitin, where treats are strung from a bamboo racked. Children ten and under will be able to grab the treats as it is suspended in air while be raised and lowered.

Tickets are $8.00 per person and $6.00 for children ten and under.

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