The second installment of The Filipino Channel’s (TFC) virtual reunion of overseas Filipinos (OFs) and their families in the homeland, “Kapamilya Reunion,” became an emotional roller coaster ride for the winners because while the chance to reconnect with their family moved some to tears, surprise visits from the Kapamilya stars and other treats thrilled participants to no end.
Owning up to its pivotal role as a link for OFs and their families via its content and platforms, TFC took its service a notch higher by recreating the elements of the iconic Filipino Christmas or Paskong Pinoy and bringing the holiday festivities to overseas Filipinos, starting in 2015.
This year, Kapamilya Reunion welcomed the families of Filipinos in U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong to two hours of a virtual reunion with their families all together in a physical Noche Buena at ABS-CBN’s famed Restaurant 9501.
The winners and their families were chosen based on their answer to the question: “Ikuwento ninyo kung ano’ng pagkakaiba ng Pasko ng ‘Pinas sa Pasko ninyo abroad! (Tell us what makes your Christmas in the Philippines different from what your celebration overseas).”
Lory Llemos, sister of winner Myra Blanca of Ontario said that her sister may have moved the judges because Myra spoke about her sad experience of leaving the Philippines right after their mom died in. For Llemos, her sister truly craves for our version of Christmas because of its simple joys. “Kahit wala kayong pera, hindi ba basta magkakasama kayo kahit paano, iba iyong bonding ninyo? Exchange gift kayo, monito monita – kahit katuwaan lang. Kahit comedy yung regalo (okay lang). Kasi tayong mga Pilipino grabe tayong magpahalaga ng Pasko,” Llemos said.
Here are some of the other winning answers:
“Pag pasko, deadma lang. Normal day. Iba pa rin ang atmosphere ng Christmas natin kaysa dito sa Australia. Nagpapatugtog na lang ako ng mga Christmas songs para lang ma-feel ko ang spirit of Christmas sa Australia. Summer din dito kapag December. Yung lamig ng panahon ay isa rin sa hinahanap ko tuwing Pasko. Pero siyempre mas miss ko ang family ko.” – Cherrylou Nolan of Australia
“Iba ang Paskong Pinoy kasi dito, sama-sama ang mga pamilya. Sa ibang bansa kasi doon inisip mo rito. Ako dating OFW din ako. Noong nag-abroad ako maliliit pa iyang mga iyan (children)…Noong nakagraduate na sila, nagkaroon sila ng trabaho, sabi ng mga anak ko – ‘Tay may trabaho na ako. Uwi ka na rito.” – Former OF Arthur Cantonjos, father of Australia-based migrant Arlene Cantonjos – Flores
Even while they are connected via various social media platforms, the Kapamilya Reunion provided an additional layer to the festivities by bringing together families of OFs and surprising them with visits from several ABS-CBN celebrities, giving truth to the meaning of Kapamilya.
Leading the surprise were “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’s” Arjo Atayde; Kapamilya love team Alexa Ylacad and Nash Aguas; and child stars Xyriel Manabat and Zijan Jaranilla; and Kapamilya Heartthrob Dominic Roque.
For first-timer Robi Domingo, the experience was extra touching because it involves Filipinos who do not have the luxury of time nor opportunity to be with their families “Kaya ako, sobrang humahanga sa mga Kapamilya natin dito sa Pilipinas na may mga kamag-anak sa ibang bansa dahil nakakayanan nilang maging masaya dahil Pasko na at nakikita nila ‘yong mas malaking larawan na ginagawa nila ‘to para sa kanila rin.
For DJ Jai Ho, the experience was different this year not only because he was a guest then and a host now. “Nakita ko iyong init ng pagtanggap ng mga tao ‘di nawala. Di nila binabalewala ang pagbigay pansin ng TFC sa kanila.”
While the reunion was heart-warming, hosts DJ Jai Ho plus DJ Cha Cha entertained the guests as the MOR disc jock and abs-cbn.com “Hotspots” host and “Ang Nag-iisang Dyosa ng Radyo” injected cheers to the two-hour event.
Adding to the holiday feel were Christmas elements such as a Pinoy feast of puto bumbong and bibingka and Yuletide decors. Completing the Kapamilya Reunion were Christmas gifts from TFC and partner sponsors, similar to the veritable exchange gift.
New York-based Aireen Brito said that while she speaks to her sister Charlotte regularly, she looked forward to the Kapamilya reunion because it feels as an early Christmas for her. What tides her over, in between reunions, is every bit of a chance to be connected to home.
“Salamat sa tatay ko at may TFC ako. Hanggang ma-experience ko ang buhay America, trabaho, kayod – TFC ang tumulong sa akin. Hindi ako naho-home sick, then connected pa rin ako sa nangyari sa ‘Pinas since nag-asawa ako noong 2009. Salamat sa asawa ko at may TFC pa rin,” Brito ended.
ABS-CBN Global Marketing Head for Asia Pacific Eric Santos said Filipinos have strong family values. In spite of the tremendous challenge posed by distance, Filipinos will always find ways to connect to home. This is where TFC tries to play its part.
“During the first Kapamilya Reunion, we saw how strong Filipino bond is and how Pinoys take advantage of each opportunity to see their loved ones. We continued Kapamilya Reunion this year because we acknowledge the Filipinos need to reconnect with family and home, especially during this festive season,” Santos ended.
Kapamilya Reunion was streamed live via Kapamilya.com/TFCLive on December 18 Manila time. Witness the touching Kapamilya Reunion once again on December 30, 2016 via “TFC Connect.”
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