Philippine Festival in Tokyo Showcases Filipino Christmas Spirit and Community Unity

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo joined the Filipino Community in celebrating the Philippine Festival 2019 held at the Yoyogi Park from 30 November to 1 December 2019. Attracting over 100,000 visitors over a 2-day period, the Festival was organized by the Philippine Festival Organizing Committee (PFOC) composed of various Filipino community organizations under the chairmanship of Ms. Jenavilla Bibal Shigemizu, with the support of the Philippine Embassy and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With the theme “Pasko ng Bayan”, the Festival celebrated Christmas in a uniquely Filipino way, along with the taste, sights, and sounds of Filipino cuisine, music, crafts, products, and a variety of inter-cultural performances which showcased how “it’s more fun in the Philippines”. The Festival aimed to gather the growing Filipino Community in Japan and promote intercultural exchange to foster greater understanding and meaningful friendship between Filipinos and the Japanese people.

Ambassador Jose C. Laurel V with guests of honor and members of the Philippine Festival Organizing Committee

During the opening ceremony on 30 November, Ambassador Jose C. Laurel V, underscored how Christmas is a shared experience of Filipinos overseas, including the over 300,000 Filipinos currently living, working and studying in Japan. Commemorating Bonifacio Day, Ambassador Laurel urged Filipinos to be inspired by the courage, bravery and patriotism of our great revolutionaries as we continue to safeguard and celebrate the freedoms they won for us. He also expressed his deep gratitude to the Government of Japan for providing a second home for Filipinos, and for remaining a reliable partner in the Philippines’ economic development.

Gracing the occasion were Japanese government officials and politicians and members of the diplomatic corps, including former ambassadors of Japan to the Philippines. In their messages, Mr. Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Norihiro Nakayama, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Taku Otsuka, State Minister of the Cabinet Office and Director-General of the Japan-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship League, and Mr. Masataka Fujita, Secretary-General of the ASEAN-Japan Center, highlighted the robust bilateral relationship between the Philippines and Japan which continues to be strengthened by people-to-people exchanges.

Members and volunteers of the Philippine Festival Organizing Committee (top) With Ms. Yeng Constantino and a cheering crowd (bottom)

Under the concept of a Philippine Christmas Village, the Philippine Embassy in partnership with the offices of the Tourism Attaché, Agriculture Attaché and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Tokyo promoted tourism, investment, and Filipino MSMEs who exhibited various crafts and products. The Embassy’s Consular Section and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, on the other hand, provided consular and labor-related consultations. The Embassy also organized an Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) Caravan to provide frontline government services to Filipinos in partnership with NBI, PAG-IBIG, PhilHealth and SSS.

The Philippine Festival attracts a large crowd (top); booths featuring MSMEs from the Philippines

The Festival’s intercultural program was top billed by the Guimaras Manggahan Festival dancers and various artists from the Philippines including Ms. Yeng Constantino. Together with Japanese performers, the Filipino performers showcased a tapestry of Filipino culture through songs and dance, including a choir and karaoke competition.

Prior to the Festival, the Guimaras Manggahan Dancers led by Governor Samuel Gumarin were welcomed at the Philippine Embassy during a Cultural and Welcome Night on 28 November 2019, organized by the PFOC and the Federation of World Youth, a Japanese non-profit organization. During the event, the Guimaras Manggahan Dancers presented traditional folk dances while the Japanese performers rendered enka songs and a tea ceremony demonstration.

Part of the Festival’s ceremonies was dedicated to celebrating the 156th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. Songs about nationhood and patriotism were featured, including Bonifacio’s composition, “Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”. Embassy DCM Robespierre Bolivar delivered Bonifacio Day remarks, where he called for unity among the Filipino community and declared that every Filipino’s success contributes to the nation’s progress.

Guimaras Manggahan Festival Dancers perform a harvest dance

The Philippine Festival is the biggest Filipino annual cultural event in Japan organized by the Filipino Community in partnership with the Philippine Embassy.

Photo Credits: PFOC

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