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For Pinoys across the world, Christmas always connects with home

Filipinos of all stripes around the world, even those in the most unlikely overseas destinations, are not about to let pass what is obviously the happiest Christian season without stamping their unmistakeably Pinoy imprint on it.

If they can’t visit home, if they can’t send back gift packages, and apart from calling home by phone or the Internet, the next best way to connect with home is to line up typically-Pinoy Christmas celebrations—often as early as the start of December.

In the United States, with one of biggest contingents of Filipino immigrants and transient residents, Christmas Philippine-style is almost a full transplant from the native land.

The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, for example, started the nine-day novena mass with the traditional Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass) and Parade of Parols (Lanterns) at the our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles.

The Filipino-American community in San Francisco meanwhile held for the eighth time its Annual San Francisco Lantern Festival at the Yerba Buena Lane on December 11, with participating contingents carrying their own lanterns.

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. meanwhile opened the Christmas season by decking its newly inaugurated Consular Office with Philippine-themed decorations, notably the parols made by children.

The Embassy likewise organized the Paskong Pinoy 2010 at the Catholic University of America, which drew some 400 guests and featured performances from Filipino-American artists.

Traditional Philippine lanterns have likewise been at the center of holiday celebrations, with over a hundred parols lit up at the Philippine Embassy grounds in Bangkok. The lanterns came all the way from the province of Pampanga, which has become popular nationwide for its decorative lanterns.

Other Filipino communities overseas likewise are holding their usual Christmas parties, as an opportunity for Filipino migrant workers to get together, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In Brunei Darussalam, the Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community there held their Annual “Pasko ng Pinoy", with comedienne Giselle Sanchez as their guest.

More than 300 Filipinos and their foreign guests also gathered at the Philippine Embassy grounds in Abuja, Nigeria for a Thanksgiving mass and a Christmas party.

Filipino parishioners of the Our Lady of Assumption Church in Toronto also organized a Christmas Party for Migrant Workers, which featured free Filipino food, games and prizes.

Similar gathering were likewise spearheaded by the Philippine Embassies in Vientiane (Laos) and Pakistan for overseas Filipinos based there.

In Vietnam, meanwhile, Filipinos on the evening of Christmas Eve and the morning after would troop to nearby churches such as the St. Joseph's Cathedral on Nha Tho Street in Hanoi and the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral on Duong Nguyen Du street for the traditional mass, narrates GMANews.TV contributor Eileen Paat.

Paat says a big number of Filipinos attend the 9:30 a.m. mass on Sundays, which is the only English-language mass for the day.

But Christmas is basically quiet in Vietnam, according to Paat, with Filipinos gathering a week or two before Christmas day just before they go for a holiday vacation in the Philippines.Jerrie M. Abella with Eileen Paat/JV, GMANews.TV