Joyeux Noel from the French Club

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Saturday, December 7, 2013


AS IS the trend these days, L’Association d’Amitie Franco-Philippine or the French Club of Bacolod decided to hold its Christmas party quite early this month. So early in fact, that we only had two weeks to prepare for the December 4 dinner. Yet, miracles happen especially when the few that came brought their own brand of Christmas cheer.

As president of the club, I count myself lucky for having a very enthusiastic, generous and organized secretary in the person of Liz Ascalon. Liz may be a new member yet, she took to her role like a duck to water. I wouldn’t have known what I’d do without her. From booking the venue to choosing the menu, to calling members, right down to providing the prizes, she made a lot of effort to help me out. Merci beaucoup, Madame Liz. J’etait tres heureuse!!!

The members who were able to make it were Carmen Arroyo, Tess Bongco, Sofie Estoya, Lota Gabiosa, Bella Galang, Champa Gidwani, Vicky Lacson, Vilma Laurente, Girlie Cordero, Pushpa Tan, and Marlin Villasor and daughter Therese Tolentino. Ruth Pedregosa and Ping Talento couldn’t make it even though it was held at Tita Ping’s. Christmas is always a busy season for the restaurant business. Anyway, aside from Liz, one other baby member made a special contribution to the dinner – Elsie Gonzaga – who pranced in sparkling with her vivacious personality and her indispensable camera. The photos are care of Elsie. Merci bien aussi, Elsie!

That night, our special guests were Christine Mansinares of the Provincial Tourism Office, and Gelo Alba of Kalipay Foundation. I tapped Christine to represent the government to accept the club members’ donations for the Yolanda survivors. Gelo represented Kalipay Foundation to accept our little gift for the foundation’s beneficiaries. Our Christmas party not only was supposed to be a merry affair where we caught up with long-lost friends over good food and good conversation, but also was a way of joyfully sharing with those in need. Since Christmas was created to celebrate our Savior’s birth in lowly circumstances, it is just right that we also include the less privileged in our society.

Kalipay Foundation’s children are rescued ones who have undergone trauma from physical and sexual abuse in their community and in their very homes. Liz Ascalon is a volunteer and it is through her that we got interested in helping the foundation in whatever way we can. The children go through a pair of rubber slippers in two months and the slippers are the most used up items in their wardrobe. The club has decided to support even just one round of slippers with the hope that its funds can afford future cash donations. Cash is best because this gives the foundation better control over sizes and sources of their slippers.

Christine Mansinares updated the club on what the provincial government has been doing to counteract the effects of Typhoon Yolanda. As provincial tourism officer, she has the data and the news source for sharing with us what is most needed in northern Negros and the corresponding efforts of the government and private entities. It is heartening to know that people are getting their acts together to help the victims and, hopefully, the survivors themselves will create opportunities for themselves to recover. The club members brought some items to share with the victims. The catch here is that they describe in French what they brought. A lot of us stumbled in using the language but that still brought a lot of fun to the moment.

To torture ourselves further, we played “Give Me What I Want” in French (Donnez-moi que je veux). This tested our vocabulary and listening ability. Anyone who got it right and brought the wanted item got to choose a trinket from any of three bags. Then, she’d take over and ask the group what she wanted. Tita Marlin had her eye on the bottle of wine that Elsie brought and offered to sing for us just to get it. Well, we got our free entertainment, Tita Marlin got her wine. Everyone was happy!!!

Eh bien, a l’annee prochaine … joyeux noel tout le monde et une bonne annee!!!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 07, 2013.

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