Filipino Community Celebrates “Isang Simbang Gabi” at the Franciscan Chapel Center, Tokyo

Father Russell Becker, OFM, mass celebrant of the Simbang Gabi, with Father Jack Serate, OFM.

At 7:00 p.m. on 19 December 2012, around 300 members of the Filipino community in Japan attended “Isang Simbang Gabi”, a special mass organized by various Filipino community groups and the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, at the Franciscan Chapel Center in Roppongi. The mass celebrant was Fr. Russell Becker, OFM, Pastor of the Franciscan Chapel Center, while the homily was delivered by Fr. Jack Serate, OFM, a Filipino priest from the Catholic Diocese of Saitama.

The idea to hold a Simbang Gabi for the Filipino community came from Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez and Father Russell. This most special of Philippine traditions was meant to make Filipinos in Japan feel closer to home during the Christmas season, uniting all in the spirit of peace and joy as one community. Father Russell also committed to donate the collection from the Simbang Gabi to victims of Typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha), the Philippines’ worst typhoon in 2012.

After the mass, refreshments provided by the various Filipino community groups and the Embassy were served at the Center, including traditional Filipino Christmas fare such as pan de sal, queso de bola, hamon, embotido, ensaymada, tsokolate and kape barako. Christmas carols were also sung by two well-known Filipino artists in Japan, Ms. Marlene de la Peña and Mr. Rex Angeles.

Ambassador and Madame Manuel M. Lopez at the Procession of the Gifts.

Ms. Marlene De la Peña requesting Ambassador Lopez to sing a Christmas carol after the mass.