The Philippine Cultural Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) will be celebrating “PASKO 2020 – A Philippine Christmas Celebration,” on Saturday, December 19th from 12:00 Noon to 6:30 PM followed by a traditional “Simbang Gabi” (Evening or mid-night mass) at 7PM. Due to the current pandemic, “PASKO” will be held outdoor at the Philippine Village (aka PhilFest Grounds) of the Philippine Cultural Enrichment Complex located at 14301 Nine Eagles Drive, Tampa, FL 33626. This decision was made by the PCFI Board and PASKO committee to minimize health risk amid the coronavirus epidemic, ensuring that the festival is a safe environment for visitors who wish to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. This family event is open to the public who may want to experience a Philippine Christmas. A donation of no less than $5.00 is required to enter the event with children 5 years and under to enter free. Parking will be free except at some designated parking areas where it says “Reserve” which belongs to major donors of the foundation. 

PASKO-A Philippine Christmas Celebration

“PASKO” visitors will have an experience truthful to a Christmas as it is done in the Philippines – town plazas filled with merriment, food and lights just like when they come out of the churches after “Simbang Gabi” (Evening or mid-night mass). There will food vendors selling authentic Philippine cuisine served by top Philippine restaurant and caterers in Tampa like Filipiniana Philippine Cafe, Mata’s Carinderia and Mercel’s Bakeshop. There will be also some merchandise vendors selling and promoting their products. PCFI member organizations will be selling all kinds of Christmas steamed or sweetened rice cakes typically served during Christmas in the Philippines called “Kakanin” (yummy goodies).

There will also be non-stop entertainment presented at the “Sinagtala Outdoor Theater” the whole day. Entertainment will be presented by volunteer artists in the Tampa Bay Area including PCFI’s resident performing groups, the Philippine Choral Group, Philippine Performing Arts Company, Indak Pambata (Children Dancers), and the Musikong Kawayan Bamboo Ensemble. Other confirmed performers include Tampa Bay’s very own balladeer Don Bronto, “The Man with a Thousand Voices” Aba Villagomeza, the Forever40 Young Sisterhood Dancers, just to mention a few. As always there be a full live Nativity presented by the First Baptist Church of Safety Harbor and the members of Philippine community. This year’s emcee will be non-other than “E-MC” himself the very entertaining Emil Inducil Cruz.

Just like in previous ‘PASKO,” there will be a Christmas Tree competition among participating PCFI member organizations, with a winner as the “Most Beautiful Christmas Tree” at the end of the evening. Member organizations will decorate their induvial pavilions to add to the festive celebration. Everyone is being encouraged to bring their “parols” and have a chance to win a fabulous price as the “Most Beautiful Parol” after the “Parol Parade. A “Parol” is a decorated lit “star” based on the “Star of Bethlehem” that guided the farmers and the Three Kings to the stable where Jesus was born, which is typical of a Philippine Christmas. It is also encouraged that families and parents bringing kids are asked to bring a gift properly labeled with the kids name and place it under the tree on stage for Santa to call your kids names during the gift-giving after Santa arrives.

In keeping up with tradition, a “Simbang Gabi” novena and holy mass will follow at 7 pm right after “PASKO,” to be held at the “Sinagtala Outdoor Theater.”“Simbang Gabi” is a devotional nine-day series of Masses practiced by Catholics and Aglipayans (Anglicans) in the Philippines in anticipation of Christmas and to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Philippines, the masses are held daily from December 16 to December 24 in the early mornings. In Tampa Bay, two Philippine organizations, the Sto. Nino Shrine USA, Inc. of St. Paul Catholic Church, and the Ang Bisaya of Florida, have arranged these daily masses to be held at various locations to complete the nine-day novena masses.

To minimize health risk due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, “PASKO 2020” will adhere to CDC and DOH guidelines and will be strictly enforced during the duration of the festival and the succeeding Simbang Gabi:

  • Mask/Face shield required and a MUST
  • Social distancing will be strictly enforced
  • Temperature will be checked at the gate entrance
  • Individuals who refuse to comply will not be allowed in the premises

PASKO 2020” is made possible through the joint efforts of PCFI Chairman Lari Judalena Peterson, “PASKO 2020” Chairman Vivian Furigay-Dudgeon, and Co-chair Nhick Ramiro Pacis. PCFI Cultural Affairs Director Joey Omila is also facilitating communications between PCFI and participating artists, vendors, and PCFI member organizations. For more information about this event, please call (813) 925-1232 or visit us online at www.pcfitampa.org. Interested vendors call: (813) 312-6518.

Philippine Parol Lanterns