The Filipino lawyer’s residence at 23–24 Higashicho, 2-Chome, Kichijoji, Musashimoshi, 25-minutes away by commuter train from Shibuya station in Tokyo, could have been merely one of many typical Japanese bungalows in the area were it not for some aspects.
His was the only Filipino family in the area. What made it more interesting was the proximity of his home to an institution for Catholic nuns and its sprawling grounds across the street (where his three daughters and a son played after school), to a Protestant minister’s residence at the rear, and to a Mormon chapel a block away where, two years before, his children were invited to front row seats in the cultural hall of the meetinghouse for a live performance of the Osmond Brothers.
With these religious influences in the immediate vicinity of his home, the Filipino was determined to celebrate Christmas Eve, which then fell on a Sunday, in a Christian manner he had not observed for a long time. He was going to erect a big Christmas tree with multicolored lights inside the living room, which could be seen from the outside through huge picture windows facing the street.
That particular Sunday, the lawyer feverishly worked on his indoor Christmas tree, at intervals playing indoor golf practice, drinking, smoking and listening to stereo music. His wife, Alice, had gone to market for the week-end specials she loved to prepare for the family. By lunchtime the “masterpiece” was completed.
As darkness fell, he switched on the colored lights and went outside to assess his handiwork. It was beautiful! His Christmas tree was a spectacular display all the passersby admired. It was like a huge beacon that brightened the entire neighborhood, and his face beamed with pride over the thought that his masterpiece would be the focal point of his best Christmas ever, over a period of eight years living in different places in a foreign country with a different culture.
Later in the evening, as they were about to partake of the traditional Filipino noche buena, his children (Jacqueline, Janette, Jonathan and Jean-Marie) excitedly announced the presence of persons outside. “They are only admiring my Christmas tree!” their father proudly explained.
Suddenly, a superb blending of voices singing in English a hymn unfamiliar to them filled the air like angelic voices in the night. They all rushed to the door. This was the first time in their lives to hear such a beautiful song—harmonizing from the lips of about 16 people, six of whom were American young men. The group had seen the Christmas tree. They were Mormons from the chapel a block away! It was a heart-warming scene as the Filipino family listened to the group, enraptured by a hymn that expressed words of “love at home”.
Suddenly, in the lawyer’s mind, his masterpiece of a Christmas tree had paled in comparison with the heavenly voices of the Mormon group. Suddenly, Christmas Eve for the family was the best ever, as angelic voices were heard in Kichijoji!—Posidio Ocampo, Jr.
Notes: If they get the chance to read this piece, the Japanese members of the group and the six American missionaries who had long returned to the U.S. will fondly recall that, on December 24, 1972, a Filipino family living near the Mormon chapel in Kichijoji opened their home and their hearts to them, and that through their song they planted the seed of the true Church in their hearts.
The Filipino family returned to the Philippines 4 years later and on September 3, 1977 husband and wife (Bro. Adaucto P. Ocampo and Sis. Alice Reyes Ocampo) were baptized in the Marikina chapel.