The evening was emceed by Maria Burns, President of Tauranga Filipino Society, and Marylee Coles, whose birthday happened to be on the night.
Marylee Coles started the programme with an overview of the country’s history, pointing out how its Spanish heritage had shaped the Philippines’ Catholic character and the way Christmas was celebrated in a big way, with family and food being the main focus. She also drew attention to the Asian and especially Chinese influence on the island nation, which was reflected in the Philippines’ food: a mixed cuisine that reflected the country’s mixed ethnic history and the availability of local ingredients.
The presentations included a national dance in colourful costumes, a modern line dance by the Tauranga Filipino dance group and a spectacular fashion show of formal or festive dresses. The outfits were modernised versions of different regional costumes and styles.
The evening ended with carols sung in Tagalog, the official language unifying the multi-ethnic country. To give visitors a chance to sing along, the Tagalog words were shown on screen and an explanation on their pronunciation provided to encourage participation.