Christmas carols are traditional in the West, and have been since their advent, 1500 years ago. Each civilisation since has added its own touch to the practice of carolling, and in the Dakhiliyah, for the last two years, the region has rang to the charming voices of the Nizwa Filipino Kids Choir, under the stewardship of Oyie Taguibao and Mark Mampolino.
The 10 girls and 2 boys of the group have, for the last two years entertained community groups, and families, mostly expatriate, throughout the Nizwa Governorate, bringing a touch of home with their traditional, family oriented, singing.
Another Christmas tradition in the West, over the last 50 to 100 years, has been the practice of ‘switching on the town lights,’ or ‘illuminating the town square.’ This tradition too is now alive and well in Oman, as the Golden Tulip Hotel created a festive occasion to remember, this week.
General Manager Sundeep Jaitly said, “We thought about our guests, so many of whom are from Europe, and the current contractor group in the district, and our team came up with the Christmas Tree idea. Someone knew someone else, who knew someone else, and we found this adorable choir, and the concept quickly became a reality.”
With the lobby environment decked out in the festive spirit, the 4.5 metre high tree took pride of place with all of its coloured decorations, and 300 guests including the hotel’s current guests, contractors and their families, local dignitaries, and captains of industry and hospitality, were served cool mint drinks and canapes prior to the entertainment.
A Filipino group of musicians, who called themselves ‘very much’ enthusiasts, and went by the name of, “The Band With No Name,” performed festive hits and Christmas themed chart-toppers to set the festivities off.
Then came the choir, who entranced their audience with the purity of their voices. They had been introduced as ‘little angels,’ and clad in red and white, made a marvellous sight. Their initial childish hesitancy, perhaps in awe of the large crowd, was eventually overcome by their enthusiasm, as they belted out four standard carols, and by the time they got to, “Jingle Bells,” many in the audience were singing along too, or at least foot-tapping.
A treat followed as one little girl from Ibri performed a solo rendition of “O Holy Night.” Seven-year-old Brianna Marix Boras is known to her friends simply as ‘Yana,’ and her proud mother, Maria, a teacher beamed a mile-wide smile as her daughter received an extended ovation from a truly appreciative audience.
The Master of Ceremonies then asked for the lobby lights to be dimmed, and led a countdown to the illumination of the tree. Oooohs, aaaaahs, gasps of delight and appreciation, and applause followed as the tree then stood in its full glory, and lo and behold, soon the ringing of bells heralded the arrival of Santa Claus, with gifts for all the children.
It was, said Falaj Daris Hotel General Manager Pierre Sabbagh, “A lovely occasion, and probably a first for Nizwa.” “Who woulda thought it ay?” Queried a broad Scottish accent, as German, French, Indian, Pakistani, Filipino and those of so many races and religions put aside their differences, and celebrated the joy of Christmas, in a very traditional manner.