In the spirit of the holiday season that brings family and friends together in celebrations, ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel tapped the power of media and technology to gather nearly 40 Overseas Filipinos (OFs) from 10 countries for their virtual Kapamilya Reunion with their families in the Philippines.
The families in the homeland were gathered last December 6 at the Restaurant 9501 of ABS-CBN Corporation in Quezon City while OFs gathered in TFC offices in Redwood City, California; Toronto in Ontario; Dubai Media City; and partner venues Bar FM in London; Salad Bar Grill and Suite, New South Wales; Kusina Restaurant in Seoul; Outback Restaurant in Singapore; and Dabarkads in Hong Kong to make the virtual reunion happen.
ABS-CBN Global Marketing Services Head Pam Castillo said she is proud that ABS-CBN TFC’s service transcends broadcasting. “We are in the service of the Filipino worldwide and this has many layers. We accompany OFs in their journey overseas through information and entertainment and the company of our stars. But most importantly, we try to keep the link to home not only through TFC programs but also through our special events and engagements such as Kapamilya Reunion,” Castillo said.
ABS-CBN Regional Marketing Head for Europe, Middle East and Africa Maribel Hernaez, added that what enables the TFC team to truthfully fulfill this mission is the fact that most of them are OFs themselves. “As an overseas Filipino worker, I empathize with them – how challenging their movement was, how they consistently struggle in a foreign land, and how they remain hopeful for a chance to be with their families,” Hernaez said.
One of TFC’s answers to OFs’ yearning for their families according to ABS-CBN Asia Regional Marketing Head for Asia Pacific Eric Martin Santos is Kapamilya Reunion. Santos said:“Through Kapamilya Reunion, we hope to bring Christmas to those who cannot come home for the season.So together as a team, we brought these families together for a few hours of entertainment, an array of feasts, exchange gifts andmost of all, one unforgettableChristmas.”
Launched in September, the concerted TFC teams behind Kapamilya Reunion asked the OFs to share their most unforgettable Paskong `Pinas with their family online, through TFC’s facebook pages.Overseas Filipinos from all over the world heeded TFC’s call and sent answers from the most touching moments to childhood memories that continue to bring a smile to their faces. The winning stories were chosen based on their impact and uniqueness.
Rahmil Pamilacan of United Arab Emirates (UAE), shared a memory from way back in 2006, the last time his family was complete. Because of the need to fend for the family, one family member worked overseas one after the other. His mother Marie Luz who was also a former OF, understands how it is for Rahmil to be alone in UAE. In between tears, she thanked TFC for the opportunity to bring him closer, “Hindi ko inaasahan ito. Na-surprise ako kasi ngayon lang ako naka-experience ng ganito. Dati susulat ka tapos after two months pa darating. Ngayon nag-uusap kami via skype kung anong meron. Sobrang proud ako sa anak ko dahil laging may sorpresa sa akin. Kahit malayo siya, may pag-aalala.”
Meantime, Mercedes Lamanilao left the Philippines ten years agoto work in Hong Kong and has not seen husband Isagani and their kids since then. Isagani is happy that he was able to speak with Mercedes through Kapamilya Reunion but for him, the experience is bittersweet. He said: “Masaya pero medyo malungkot kasi hindi namin siya kasama.”
Cornelio dela Cruz of Singapore understands how hard it is for one’s family to be incomplete, especially at Christmas. He said that his brother Ino shared the story on how their last memory of a happy Christmas was when their father was still alive. Last five years… “ang hirap dahil nabawasan kami ng isa. Actually four lang kami so ang lungkot. Before, naramdaman namin ang hirap umupa. Pero magkakasama kami kasi buhay nga ang father ko noon. Ngayon naman may house kaming sarili, pero magkakahiwalay naman kami.”
Truly, for these OFs, the company of their families is what ismost important and transcends wealth and material things. But while some relive memories with family, some hang on to tangible things to help them by. Nenita Soledad of United Kingdom still remembers the day her grandson gave her a letter which she only opened when she arrived in UK. To this day, she still carries the letter. Son Isagani shares that Kapamilya Reunion enabled her to see not only grandson Kael but the entire family as well. Isagani said: “Lagikamingnagkikita through skype pero itong araw na ito, espesyal kasi maraming mga Filipino sa ibang bansa na nagce-celebrate na sila-sila lang pero ngayon sama-sama. Although hindi pa December 25, we can celebrate an early Christmas now at kasama ko ang anak ko at buong pamilya ko.”
Marinette Orlanda’s(from Canada) sisterMarizenCajayon agrees that Kapamilya Reunion is different from their regular skype sessions “Masaya kami kasi may chance namagkita kami. Of course, nagkikita rin kami kahit papaano pero mas masaya ngayon kasi kumpleto kami.”
Magdalene Calimlim from the United States has not had this luxury of a complete family since she separated from husband Edgardo Landingin. But through their daughter Katrina RosalySiancoand Kapamilya Reunion, they were able to see each other again. Edgardo shares that the couple let bygones be bygones for the children and entirefamily. He said: “Ang sugat pag nasugat na, mayroon at mayroong peklat. Pero iba pa rin ang pamilya especially sa mga anak ko. Sabi nga nila tumatanda, namamatay, nawawala. Pero ang mga anak at apo, pang-habang buhay. Iba rin kung alam nila ang sitwasyon.”
Lecy Ann Alcobenas of Japan also faces the same challenge as she is a single mother. Leaving the country was extra hard because she had to leave her one year-old daughter just to fend for her two-member family, alone. Alcobendas wished to her family in the Philippines: “Sana manalo ako. Puntahan ninyo iyan kasi pangarap ko iyan. Baka saka-sakaling makasama ko ang anak ko.”
While Kapamilya Reunion was a dream come true for Lecy Ann, it was a need fulfilled for Joy Pereña of Taiwan. Her family is not blessed with a regular internet connection so father Ignacio values the Kapamilya Reunion and affirmed: “Malaking bagay. Nakakatulong kayo. Kahit malayo man ang mga miyembro ng mga kapamilya, ay nagkakausap man lang, sa pamamagitan ng ABS-CBN TFC. Iyong connection, iba. Malaking tulong sa amin.”
Aside from connecting families from different parts of the world, Kapamilya Reunion also tried to recreate the Christmas celebration, the Filipino way.In remaining true to the Filipino tradition that is Paskong `Pinoy, each of TFC team rolled out a salo-salo, sort of like a Noche Buena feast. In U.S. and Canada, choirs Praise and Glorify and the Pentecostal Ministry performed poignant Christmas songs, especially carols the OFs missed back home.
The TFC teamscomposed of TFC’s Regional Marketing teams headed by Castillo, Hernaez & Santos and Advertising Sales teams headed by Global Ad Sales Head Jon Gatbonton, also enabled the OFs and their families to exchange gifts courtesy of partners. The gift-giving does not stop there as the OF families in the Philippines, through TFC’s courier partner, will be able to send their gifts to their loved ones overseas for free, and with it, more happy memories to share this Christmas.
Like a true Paskong ‘Pinas, select Kapamilya stars joined kababayans who were online during the first part: OFs from U.S., Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan and their families gathered at Restaurant 9501. Pangako Sa `Yo’s Thou Reyes (Takong) and DJ Jai Ho (Coring); Deal or No Deal’s MJ Lastimosa; Joj and Jai of Forevermore; Umagang Kay Ganda’s Marlo Mortell; and Jon Lucas of the viral sensation Hash Tags made the reunion extra special.
During the second part of the reunion where TFC gathered families from the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Taiwan, and South Korea,more Kapamilya stars came to inject some more happy moments: Pangako Sa `Yo’s Sue Ann Ramirez (Ligaya/Joy); Forevemore’s Sofia Andres (Kate); Arron Villaflor (Dr. Henry Nieves); Jairus Aquino of Luv U; Bonnel Balingit and Diana Meneses of Kapamilya Deal or No Deal.
Ramirez who plays Joy/Ligaya in the hit teleserye Pangako Sa `Yo shared that she is proud to have been be part of Kapamilya Reunion. She said she can relate to what our kababayansare going through as she herself has relatives overseas. She believes TFC’s “Kapamilya Reunion” helped shorten the distance so to speak and sustain that bond.“Iba pa rin iyong mayayakap mo iyong mga mahal mo, mga pamilya mo. Ako mismo nakikita nila sa TFC so nagiging close kami. TFC ang naging way nila para ma-connect sa families sa Pilipinas,”Ramirez shared.
Pangako Sa `Yo’s Doris ‘Tart’ Carlos and Ang Probinsyano’s Vivieka Vivieka shared light moments with the OFs too as the program hosts.
Witness the touching moments of Kapamiya Reunion via TFC Connect on December 25, worldwide. F
or more information, visit TFC pages worldwide.