By Adam Jackson / Ponoka News
The Filipino community of Ponoka is celebrating Christmas a little differently this year.
People of Filipino descent make up about three per cent of the population of Ponoka and have a tight-knit community.
In the Philippines, a predominately Catholic country, Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. Celebrations start in early September and last right until New Year’s Eve. It is seen as a season of giving and a lot of food and toys are given to the children. Many potluck-like events are held through the season.
Also, for the 15 days before Christmas, there is a mass every night called “Misa de Gallo,” or “Midnight Mass.”
Filipinos in the Ponoka area try to keep that tradition alive, and they do, for the most part.
“Some people when they come to Canada, they say, ‘I miss Christmas in the Philippines’,” said Romeo Mandanas, a teacher at St. Augustine School.
Mandanas, who is often referred to by Filipinos as ‘Big Brother,’ is one of the leaders of the Filipino community in Ponoka.
There is a Filipino Christmas party scheduled for Dec. 31 at the Kinsmen Community Centre. They have decided to celebrate both New Year’s and Christmas together because this time of the season is a busy one for everyone. Admission is $15 and it is a potluck where everyone coming brings a dish of his or her specialty. The potluck style party creates a good variety of food from different regions of the Philippines.
The party this year is organized by Larry and Sonia Mendoza and is seen as a ‘taste of home’ for most Filipinos living in the area.
“It’s a very good way to celebrate Christmas with fellow Filipinos,” said Mandanas.