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Publication Date : 17-12-2012
Spending Christmas away from home and family can be depressing, but for Maggie Reginio, it is the company, not the location, that matters.
The 47-year-old Filipina has been working as a domestic helper in Malaysia for 14 years and has not gone home for Christmas for more than six years.
“I do not feel sad at all because the Filipino community here is very close-knit and we always spend time together during Christmas,” said Reginio during choir practice by the Filipino ministry members at St John's Cathedral in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“Most of us cannot get a long holiday from our employers so we have no choice but to celebrate it here in Malaysia.
“But we make the most of it through our ministry's weekly gatherings where we organise activities.”
The ministry, which has about 500 members, spends Sundays the fixed day off given to Filipino workers at the cathedral where they attend mass and have activities such as choir practice.
“We have a choir group made up of Filipinos and we regularly sing during Mass. Our practice sessions are a way to pass time. Sometimes we sing Tagalog songs, too,” said Reginio.
The ministry goes by the name of “Tahanang”, which means home in Tagalog, said its chairman Mark Gil Randoy.
“It is like our second home. The people here are our family members.
“That is why I do not feel homesick during Christmas as I celebrate it with these people,” said the 30-year-old, who is an accounts executive with a travel agency.
As in previous years, they will have a special gathering on Christmas eve at the church.
“We will have a potluck dinner of Filipino food and then we attend midnight Mass.
“It is the highlight of our Christmas celebrations,” said Randoy.
For Jeannette Blanco, 38, this will be her first time celebrating Christmas away from home as she has just started working as a maid in Kuala Lumpur this year.
“These people are very caring and also a fun group. I do not think I will be homesick as long as I am with them,” she said.