Jesuit Communications Foundation (JesCom), together with the Archdiocese of Manila, delivered a Christmas spectacle to remember with “Patron of the Arts 2019: Panunuluyan”, held December 12, Thursday at the Meralco Theater, Pasig City.
In his opening remarks, JesCom Executive Director, Fr.Nono Alfonso SJ acknowledged the unwavering “faith in action” shown by supporters of the annual concert for the past eight years.
“The gift of faith allows us to see God coming to us. We can be great. We can be kind. We can make the world better through faith,” encouraged Fr.Nono, as he introduced the chosen beneficiary for POTA 2019-the Office for the Promotion of the New Evangelization (OPNE).
True to the Church’s primary ministry of spreading the Gospel, the office established by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in 2015 aims to transmit the Catholic faith to the youth, helping today’s younger generation encounter God through its innovative programs, led by the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE).
Reflecting on the musicale’s classic Filipino theme of “Panunuluyan”, Cardinal Tagle reminded the gathering of how faith and hope, guided the Holy Family’s journey.
“As we end the year, we begin the story of Mary, Joseph and life of Jesus on Earth. We choose to have faith. We choose to cradle Him in our hearts. Tayo’y magsaya, magkwentuhan, bilang isang Pamilyang Pilipino.”
Raising the curtain were the Ateneo Chamber Singers reliving the Christmas-countdown excitement with “Ilang Tulog Pa Ba?”, as The Voice finalist Tim Pavino’s “Bibingka” number, evoked charming misa de gallo memories. The Mandaluyong Children’s Choir delighted the gallery with the Ryan Cayabyab classic, “Kumukutikutitap”. Singing “Sana Ngayong Pasko”, matinee idol Piolo Pascual paid tribute to the great sacrifice of OFW’s far away from home, during the holidays. Acclaimed vocalist and theater actress Bituin Escalante imparted her powerful Christmas message of “bringing our light to others”, in her spectacular performance of “Light of a Million Mornings”.
All-girl jazz trio Baihana showcased their smooth harmony in their “Pinoy Pasko Medley”, with soprano Krina Cayabyab joining Gian Magdangal on “Imagine” and “We Can be Kind”. Magdangal, the Kapamilya network talent, earlier honored those who answer the ‘call of duty’ even during Christmas, with the Probinsyano telenovela theme song, “Ililigtas Ka Niya”. Child actor Elai Estrella, accompanied by the Ateneo Chamber Singers, inspirited the crowd to be responsible “innkeepers” and stewards of the Earth in their rendition of “Paraiso”.
Receiving the prestigious 2019 Catholic Award for the Arts was Sister Ma. Anunciata Sta. Ana of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres (SPC). Serving as Dean of the College of Music and the Performing Arts at St. Paul University Manila since 2003, Sister Anunciata is widely recognized as a leading educator and liturgical music pioneer in the country.
Recounting the unexpected, yet welcome surprises that have adorned her life, the girl who once was reluctant to pursue music, sang praises and humbly offered her latest plaque of honor, to the Lord.
“This award rightfully belongs to the God of Surprises. He sent all these treasured surprises to bring me where I am today. I am grateful that He gave me also the grace to say yes to all these opportunities no matter how difficult they seemed at the moment,” expressed Sister Anunciata.
Before serenading his guests with “Payapang Daigdig”, Cardinal Tagle recalled how his interactions with refugees brought a deeper perspective to the plight of the Holy Family as they searched for shelter.
“Our ‘welcome’ goes beyond just one moment. Its impact can last for decades. Even the innkeeper became part of the salvation story of the world. Let us give God the power to use our gifts to save his people.”
“Lord, we ask for your grace to open the doors of our hearts, to others. If ever we do find ourselves in need, may we be opened to. May we keep the lesson of the first Christmas, throughout the year ahead. Merry Christmas to everyone,” continued Cardinal Tagle.
As the evening’s festivities took an emotional turn with the announcement of Cardinal Tagle’s new designation as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, his longtime brother priests and friends consoled him with warm embraces, to the tune of “Paglamig ng Pasko”.
The entire cast of performers then took to the stage for “Joy to the World”, setting up a finale of tearful goodbyes, smiling well wishes and resounding applause for the Philippines’ beloved Cardinal.