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09/12/2009: Paskong Pinoy, “Concert of Hope” Ushers in Holiday Season for Filipino Community in Greater Metro DC Area

09 DECEMBER 2009 WASHINGTON DC – The Filipino community in the Greater Metro DC area ushered in the holiday season with a Christmas “concert of hope” that featured youthful and world-class talents and engaging performances and showed the many sights and sounds of Christmas in the Philippines.

Held at the Catholic University of America’s Pryzbyla University Center, Paskong Pinoy featured 11 performing groups that included a string duet, a string quartet, a rondalla group, an anklung group, six choirs and a Filipino soprano who won in a prestigious international vocal competition.

In his message, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa emphasized the strong bond that brought together Filipinos with the human family in bringing a message of hope to the world.

“We welcome the yuletide season as Filipinos and many peoples around the world celebrate it – together, and as one family,” said Ambassador Gaa.

Ambassador Gaa too stressed the importance of reaffirming ties and the bayanihan spirit that is “the hallmark of every successful collective Filipino endeavor.”

“We renew our ties with our long-time friends, establish new ones and reaffirm the culture and heritage we are rightly proudly of.  This is the fifth year that we have celebrated Paskong Pinoy together.  And each year, we see the concert grow in the number of performers as well as in the numbers of attendees.  This, indeed, shows what can be done when people work together to reach a shared objective,” Ambassador Gaa said.

Apart from featured traditional Filipino carols, notable during the concert too were the choreography by choirs and the participation of children as young as six years old.

The Northern Virginia Rondalla and the Fil-Am Christian Church of Anklung Ensemble of Fredericksburg, VA gave stirring renditions of Filipino carols that had a distinctive Filipino sound.

The Filipino Community in Richmond, Virginia presented the talented Rodriguez brothers and the Our Lady of Lourdes String Quartet which performed classical pieces such as Correlli’s Christmas Concerto.  Ranging in age from 8 to 16, all are members of the renowned Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra.

St. Columba Church participated this year once again.  Their St. Columba Children’s Choir regaled the audience with praise songs while their Filipino Ministry Choir of St. Columba gave spirited performances of Simbang Gabi and medley of Filipino carols.  The very engaging Young Adults Choir sang Pasko Na and Gumising with impressive choreography.

The All Saints Fil-Am Ministry Choir from Manassas, Virginia urged people to recall the year that was with “Isang Taong Lumipas,” and gave a smooth and jazzy interpretation of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

The Mission of Mercy Choral Group of the Philippine American Medical Mission of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. delivered animated versions of the Filipino Christmas carols “Noche Buena, Buksan ang Bintana and Namamasko Po.”

The Fil-Am Ministry of St. Michael the Archangel of Silver Spring Choir revived the a different version of “Simbang Gabi.”

With the Fil-Am Ministry of St. Michael the Archangel of Silver Spring Choir accompanying her, soprano Margarita Gomez Giannelli performed “Payapang Daigdig,” with purity, clarity and power that underscored the concert’s collective message of hope and peace.

Led by the Northern Virginia Rondalla, all the performers joined in the finale community singing of “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit.”

A raffle of door prizes helped further enliven the evening.

Ambassador Gaa congratulated the performers and the organizers and urged everyone to continue working for a bigger and better Paskong Pinoy in the years to come.

Paskong Pinoy is presented by the Embassy of the Philippines, the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. and the Filipino Organization of Catholic University Students together with the Filipino-American community in the Greater Metro DC area and beyond.

Tau Gamma Phi, APO DCAA and the Catholic University of America were likewise partners. END


YOUTHFUL RENDITION Fidel Rodriguez III, Michael Rodriguez, Justin Trinidad and Kay Rodriguez of the Our Lady of Lourdes String Quartet perform Correlli’s Christmas Concerto to an appreciative audience. END


LOOKING BACK The All Saints Fil-Am Ministry Choir based in Manassas, Virginia recall with gratitude the year that was with “Isang Taong Lumipas.”

JAZZY CHRISTMAS A member of the All Saints Fil-Am Ministry Choir provides guitar accompaniment to a jazzy rendition of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.  Enhancing the performances throughout the concert were images of the Christmas season projected onstage.

WELCOMING CHRISTMAS Members of the Filipino Ministry Choir of St. Columba open the second half of the programme with an energetic rendition of Simbang Gabi, followed by a medley of Filipino Christmas carols.

ENGAGING PERFORMERS Members of the Young Adults Choir of St. Columbia sing while moving into different positions during a choreographed performance of “Gumising.”

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE Members of the Young Adults Choir of St. Columba sing “Pasko Na” as an appreciative audience looks on.  In blue barong is Ambassador Willy C. Gaa.

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION Members of the Mission of Mercy Choral Group show their Christmas spirit with their rendition of “Namamasko Po.”

SINGING WITH FEELING Members of the Mission of Mercy Choral Group take their cue from their conductor Ms. Meggie Pleyto while singing “Buksan ang Bintana.

PASKO NA The Fil-Am Ministry of St. Michael the Archangel of Silver Spring Choir singing “Simbang Gabi.”

PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS Renowned Filipino soprano Margarita Gomez Giannelli sings a message of peace with “Payapang Daigdig” at Paskong Pinoy. Margarita Gomez Giannelli is a graduate of both the Curtis Institute of Music and the University of the Philippines College of Music and has the distinct honor of being the first Filipina Laureate of the Rosa Ponselle Foundation after winning the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition.

HEAVENLY VOICE With the Fil-Am Ministry of St. Michael the Archangel of Silver Spring Choir, renowned Filipino soprano Margarita Gomez Giannelli sings “Payapang Daigdig.” Gomez-Giannelli is the first Filipina Laureate of the Rosa Ponselle Foundation.

WORLD CLASS SOPRANO Filipino soprano Margarita Gomez Giannelli sings the solo of “Payapang Daigdig,” demonstrating a depth of emotion and a mastery of her vocal instrument.  Gomez Giannelli has the distinct honor of being the first Filipina Laureate of the Rosa Ponselle Foundation after winning the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition.

ANKLUNG CHRISTMAS Pastor Gil Diokno of the Fil-Am Christian Church Anklung Ensemble of Fredericksburg, VA performs the bass.  The Ensemble gave a distinctly Filipino rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with their bamboo instruments.

RONDALLA MUSIC Garbed in traditional Filipino wear, the Northern Virginia Rondalla regales the audience with their interpretations of “Carol of the Bells, Pasko’y Laganap and Pasko na Naman.”  The youthful members of the Northern Virginia Rondalla opened the first part of the programme.

MUSIC FROM BAMBOO Members of the Fil-Am Christian Church Anklung Ensemble of Fredericksburg, VA perform a medley of “Pasko na Naman” with their bamboo instruments.

GIFT GIVING Presy Guevara (right) of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. gives out one of 11 door prizes to winners during the Paskong Pinoy concert performance.

SPREADING THE CHEER Winners of door prizes show their joy after receiving their prizes at the Paskong Pinoy Concert.

UNITY IN DIVERSITY Members of the St. Columba Children’s Choir are welcomed by other performers during the finale of Paskong Pinoy.  The Concert featured performers in and around the Greater Metro DC area, including Richmond, VA and Fredericksburg, VA.  Performers ranged in age from six years old to 75.  All came with their hearts and talents to help send a message of hope.