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Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Friday, 24 December 2010
Filipinos uphold Catholic faith in Somerset
By Tammy McAllister
Reporter, BBC Somerset

Filipino Christmas Party December 2010, Yeovil
Filipino children gave a performance of Christmas carols during the party

More than 150 Filipinos have beaten the snow and ice to celebrate Christmas.

A party was held at the Labour Club in Yeovil where they said prayers and sang carols to celebrate Christmas together.

Jocelyn Arreza, one of the party-goers said: "We're the new evangelisers and we're hoping to bring the practice here as we have a very Christian tradition."

About 85% of the country's population are brought up as Catholic, a faith which many continue to practice in the UK by regularly attending mass.

Spirit of Christmas

The majority of the Filipino community in Somerset work in healthcare such as care homes and hospitals or combine their work with part-time study.

At the party, I spoke to a few of them about Christmas and discovered how they felt about their faith.

We have a very Christian tradition, it is deeply rooted. If only you could bring it back, it keeps the family together.
Jocelyn, from Martock

Anton, who worked in a nursing home in Yeovil and studied healthcare in London, said for his first Christmas in England, he was invited to a pub by an English colleague.

"[But] we said 'Sorry, good night' because we, Sir, celebrate Christmas at home."

For him, although he was away from his relatives, being with other Filipinos at home was the only way to spend Christmas.

"Even though we're not related to each other, at least the spirit is there."

He was brought up as Catholic and attends church twice a week.

"It's the first thing our parents teach us.

"You need to go to church at least once or twice a week, it's like we cannot help it anymore, it's engraved on our minds - it feels like you're safe in going to your work, your school."

'Deeply-rooted'

Mother-of-three, Jocelyn, lives in Martock. She described how, in the Philippines, the whole community attended mass in the nine days running up to Christmas.

"Of course it's a tropical country but you can see young children in churches at 4 o'clock in the morning. You can see the happiness on their face as they attend mass every dawn day.

"We're all in the church and then we have 4pm,5pm and 6pm masses and you see young people, old people - it's a cross-section, that's what we miss here."

Jocelyn attends mass everyday at 10am and feels very close to her faith. She believed it was important to bring back religion to people's daily lives in the UK.

"We're the new evangelisers and we're hoping to bring the practice here. We have a very Christian tradition, it is deeply rooted. If only you could bring it back, it keeps the family together."

For Jocelyn and her friends, the party was a way of getting together with other Filipinos and celebrating a very special time of year.

"The highlight of our Christmas celebrations is the Holy Mass and the parties, welcoming Christ Jesus into our lives.

"We go to the Midnight Mass and then the following day to the 8am mass.

"It's interwoven in the fabric of our lives."




SEE ALSO
Philippines country profile
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07 Dec 10 |  People & Places
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10 Dec 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Teens film migration experiences
16 Aug 10 |  People & Places


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