Last December here in Regina was a glorious Christmas time celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just before Advent, we were involved in setting up the beautiful nativity scene in front of the Blessed Sacrament Church. We hosted one of the nine ‘Simbang Gabi’ at St. Mary’s Church, an activity Fr. Dan Rafael started four years ago. We had all kinds of Christmas parties to go to after Mass. We had caroling too. By we, I mean the Filipino Knights of Columbus and the members’ respective families.
The Santo Nino Council #12415 of the Knights of Columbus is a very vibrant council in Saskatchewan. Since its charter in 1999, it has been awarded the most prestigious annual K of C Star Council Award eight times. The Star Council Award is based on a program of activities in the areas of church and vocations, family, community, council, and youth as well as the promotion of insurance and membership. At 180, the council has now the largest membership in Regina among 16 councils. Because about 110 of its members are of Philippine descent the council has sometimes been called the Filipino council in Regina.
One of the anticipated activities of the council is the Christmas caroling that we do in December as a fundraiser and a means to bring cheer to Filipino homes and to many care homes around Regina. In the recent Christmas season, we raised over $1200, by singing at almost twenty places. There are usually about fifteen carolers (including some significant others) and our repertoire includes common carols such as “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bells,” “Happy Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “Feliz Navidad”; and several Filipino carols like “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit,” “Pasko Na Naman,” and “Himig ng Pasko.” The group was led by Past Grand Knight and guitarist Jim Alvarez and his wife Susan. Interestingly, our group has several non-Filipino Canadians who learned to sing the Filipino songs.
At most senior care homes, the carolers would sing before a room full of the residents wheeled in by caregivers. At Sunset Extendicare Home, the group went from wing to wing and ward to ward, singing as we went along. It was very touching to see the glow, and sometimes tears, on the faces of the old folks, who often didn’t have any visitors.
At the family homes, the hosts invariably treated the carolers to sumptuous snacks (arroz caldo, puto, bibingka) and drinks. An interesting development came up at the home of Santo Niño Knight Rey and Ann Dimaano who had invited friends and families. Because they are Cebuanos as well as several carolers, a request was made for the group to sing something in Visayan; so we sang “Kasadya Ning Takna-a” to the tune of “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit.” For those who don’t know Bisaya, here is the lyric of the carol with my own best Filipino translation of it.
Kasadya Ning Takna-a
Kasadya ning takna-a (Kaysaya ng oras)
Dapit sa kahimaya-an (Lapit sa kaligayahan)
Maoray atong makita (Para bang ating nakita)
Ang panagway nga masadya-on (Ang mukha na masasaya)
Bulahan ug bulahan (Mapalad na mapalad)
Ang tagbalay nga gi-awitan (Ang maybahay na nangagsiawitan)
Awit nga halandumon (Ng kantang kilala)
Sa tanang Pasko magmalipayon (Sa lahat maligayang pasko)
Bag-ong tuig (Bagong taon)
Bag-ong kinabuhi (Bagong buhay)
Nunot ang atong mga pagbati (Sang-ayon ang ating mga pagbati)
Atong awiton ug atong laylayon (Tayo’y umawit at tayo’y humimig)
Aron magmalipayon! (Upang lumigaya)
It had been a hectic and challenging period for the carolers, considering the winter weather’s being uncooperative and that the travel from home to home could be risky because of the snowy roads. But to a man the carolers felt a sense of accomplishment and Christmas cheer. Already, some carolers are thinking of adding songs from other Philippine dialects.
Christmas season 2010 had been very soul-inspiring. On top of that, my daughter Monette and her family flew in from British Columbia and my daughter Denise flew in from Winnipeg. So we had a mini family reunion. Thanks be to God!