By Abner T. Galino
A GRAND BALL in a plush hotel symbolically capped the week-long celebration of the 118th Philippine Independence Day in Los Angeles.
On a theme of “Pagkakaisa, Pag-aambagan at Pagsulong,” the Kalayaan Incorporated filled up the grand ballroom of the The Concourse/Hyatt Regency Hotel on Saturday night (June 11) with business and community leaders for its annual Philippine independence day gala night.
The event apparently dwarfed all other formal dance parties or balls that were simultaneously held by other Filipino-American groups in Los Angeles.
Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim, the guest speaker, extolled the heroism of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as he expounded on the theme of the independence day grand ball.
Lim said OFWs in the US and as well as Filipino-Americans who continue to support families and friends in the homeland exemplify sacrifice and heroism in the modern-day.
Last year alone, the consul general said, OFWs around the world sent home around $29 billion worth of remittances, more than a quarter of it were sent from the US. Limconcluded that because remittances go directly to the people, these money spur immediate economic activities in the homeland.
The most entertaining moments during the event was provided by the PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company. The group regaled the crowd with Filipino folk dances. The dancers were particularly applauded for their renditions of the Senorita, Noche de Gala, Jota Manilena, PandangosaIlaw – Oasioas, Tinikling,Kini-kini, Asik and Singkil.
Another group of performers, the FilAm Choir of St. Pius V, also earned the crowd’s adoration for their amusingly sewn medley of traditional Filipino love songs, altogether known as Kundiman.
Three individual performers, Christine love, Manny Evaldez and Sam Santiago also had their respective share of the limelight.
Lydia Solis, Kalayaan Incorporated public relations officer, attributed the grand ball’s success to the hard work and dedication of all the officers, board of directors and ex-officio members. She said the leadership provided by Kalayaan president Josie de Jesus and vice president Jose RelsonBanas were exemplary.
“And I thank Ted Benito and program committee chair ZenySabocor for a meaningful commemorative dinner program,” Solis added.
Meanwhile in Carson City earlier in the day, Filipino-Americans participated in a parade and enjoyed a whole day of singing, dancing, cultural presentations and eating of Filipino traditional food and as well popular street food at the city’s Veterans’ Park.
Megan Young, Miss World 2013, flew in from Manila to attend to the celebration. The crowd warmly welcomed the beauty titlist after being introduced by Jush Andowitt of GMA International.
Carson City Councilor Elito Santarina thanked Filipino- American businesses for actively participating in the celebration through direct sponsorship and by putting up stalls in Veterans’ Park.
Santarina said that while the city government gave its whole-hearted support for the Philippine Independence Day celebration, it did not spend any money for the said purpose.
On June 4, the Historic Filipino Town in downtown Los Angeles was wrapped with Philippine colors as thousands of Filipino-Americans paraded through the streets for the so-called 4th Kalayaan Parade.
Participants included more than 30 Filipino-American organizations, beauty pageant contestants, big bike riders, a marching band, journalists and an array of community leaders and personalities.
A colorful Philippine jeepney owned by the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) led 30 other floats and vehicles that joined the parade as they weaved the streets of the Historic Filipino Town.
Members of the United Cordillerans of Los Angeles who showed up dressed in their colorful customary garbs greatly enhanced the display of Philippine colors.
Hundreds of Filipino Americans stood on the sidewalks and cheered as the parade passed by.
The parade ended at Parkview St. where a short program was held to emphasize the significance of celebrating Philippine Independence Day.
On June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo publicly read the Act of the Declaration of Independence in Cavite El Viejo (now known as Kawit, Cavite) that proclaimed the sovereignty and independence of the Philippines from the colonial rule of Spain.
The event included the unveiling of the National Flag of the Philippines and a performance of the “Marcha Filipina Magdalo,” which would later be known as “LupangHinirang,” the national anthem.
The said historic date was not recognized until President Diosdado Macapagapal signed Republic Act 4166 on August 4, 1964, which designated the country’s Independence Day as June 12.