Philippine Fiesta’s ‘Araw ng Parangal’ honors Fil-Am talents

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Summertime is here and the fiesta fever, once again, is in the air!

As the festive ambiance pervades the atmosphere, the principal player in the annual celebration this side of the Northeast, the 2013 Fiesta in America, is currently loaded with strategic plans without a single stone left unturned preparing for its 15th year anniversary celebration.

Philippine Fiesta in America, the grandest indoor event of the year, opens on August 17 and 18, Saturday and Sunday, at the Meadowlands Exposition Center doors in Secaucus, New Jersey. Now dubbed Fiesta in America: “The Festival of Asian & Latino Cultures” to welcome other ethnicities to the fold, it is expected to attract annual fiesta goers, visitors, sponsors, exhibitors, and supporters.

The two-day fair promises an even more magnanimous summer fest, not only because of the much-talked about bigger participation of foreign and local artists and the involvement of Latinos and other Asian countries in this year’s festivities, but also due to a very significant pre-fiesta event slated on Sunday, July 21 at 1:00 PM at the Ramada Plaza Hotel along 160-A Frontage Road in Newark, New Jersey.

Aptly tagged “Araw ng Parangal,” a tribute to Filipino-American Artists, the event honors performing artists who have constantly supported and selflessly contributed to the success of the Philippine Fiesta throughout its fourteen years of existence. The once-in-a-lifetime grand bash recognizes the distinct talents and capabilities of home-grown and internationally of these artists. Their enormous participation had been a major factor in every Philippine Fiesta’s unprecedented success.

Throughout the years, the Philippine Fiesta has also been tirelessly supported by major Philippine television networks such as GMA Channel 7 (the Kapuso Channel), ABS-CBN Channel 2 (the Kapamilya Channel), and just recently, TV5 (the Kapatid Channel).

Since the company’s foray into the scene in 1996, a huge number of promising and upcoming artists had already successfully penetrated the mainstream and incredibly carved their niches and stamped their indelible marks in the entertainment arena.

For their contributions, Philippine Fiesta organizers are giving back what individuals have “invested” by way of honoring their innate talents and recognizing all their unconditional support accorded to the former through the years.

Honorees of Araw ng Parangal will pay tribute also to their Entertainment Matriarch, the late Mila Beltran Mendez, Philippine Fiesta Vice-President and entertainment impresario, who was instrumental in molding, inspiring, and giving promising talents their much-needed break.

Ogie B. Afable, Philippine Fiesta’s indefatigable Production & Cultural Director for the past 14 years, said with sentimentality,“This is a global milestone and a significant achievement for an organization considering the prevailing economic meltdown and scarcity of fund resources.” He added, “But these predicaments should not hinder Philippine Fiesta from giving honor to where honor is due, the same way these talents conscientiously showed up when needed.”

The following names included in the categorized roster of honorees for Araw ng Parangal, a tribute to Fil-Am artists, as released by Special Edition Press, official publication of Philippine Fiesta, Inc. are as follow:

Band Performers:

– Sounds of Manila

– Friends of Enemies Band (Connecticut)

– Moxie Band (South Jersey)

– Group / Duo Performers:

– Craig & Samantha Abaya-Campos

– Jaleo Filipino Dance Ensemble of NY

– Pearls of the Pacific (McGuirre Airforce Base)

– JPIZEE & the YERRPP Crew

– Performing Arts of the Philippines

– Inspired Dance Crew

– Solo Performers:

– Maureen Javier Varco

– Jenn Cuneta

– Ellen San Miguel

– Kats Alvir

– Ciennese Lontoc

– Gail Banawis

– Roland de Castro

– Bhelle Surban Acedera

– Scottie P (Virginia Beach, Va.)

– Young Performers:

– Tiffany Viray

– Regine Seven Odon

– Alyssa Shoemaker

– Nina Mojares

– Cara Abaya Campos

– Reign Acedera


Special Honor of Distinction will be awarded to St. Anthony de Padua Filipino Choir of Bellville, New Jersey and to Rev. Fr. Dave Sison, Parochial Vicar of St. Anthony de Padua Parish Church.Additional names will be added as soon as Phil. Fiesta Production Office receives confirmation from more invited talents.

For ticket information, or for any related inquiry, please contact Araw ng Parangal chairlady Rose P. Javier at 201-993-8815 or call the Production & Cultural Director Ogie B. Afable at 908-447-9293.

The 15th Anniversary of the Philippine Fiesta in America which currently bears a new moniker, FIESTA In AMERICA, holds true to its tagline: “Brings Us Together!” with the grandiose fusion of multi-cultural ethnicities collectively converged beneath one roof celebrating a variety of activities amid a dynamically founded cultural conglomeration.

To thrill and excite fiesta goers, this year’s celebrity headliners direct from the Philippines are actor-singer-producer Piolo Pascual and fast-rising reality singing champion Angeline Quinto. The two-day indoor festival, aside from offering a wide variety of sumptuous regional delicacies and entertainment galore, also offers Travel and Tourism showcases, Children’s and Seniors’ Pavilion, Business to Business Connections, Health & Job Fair, Santacruzan & Holy Mass, Chess Pavilion, Art & Photo Pavilion, and a lot more interesting exhibition booths and an array of interracial trade expos.

To sponsor, exhibit, inquire, get updates, or attend The Festival of Asian and Latino Cultures, please call (212) 682-6610 or email [email protected] or visit

Birthday tidbits:

My plan to let June 7 pass just like any ordinary day unexpectedly turned out to be one of my most celebrated birthdays ever. This is despite the of-and-on heavy downpour that almost spoiled the day.

In spite of the rain, which I always associated with bountiful blessings, a friend treated me to lunch at a Jersey City Thai restaurant. Another group of friends also treated me to dinner in a Filipino eatery. Having been exhausted from work and the awful weather, I decided to walk to Journal Square by 9:20 pm. The erratic bus schedule made me wait for another 20 minutes. Instantly, I was sent to dreamland the moment I boarded Bus 83, only to come back to my senses by a sudden jolt and noticed that we were traveling along some unfamiliar roads and places.

The streaming water on the streets made my disorientation even worse when my feet got soaked upon getting off the bus that left me in the middle of the dark with towering trees and dimly lit houses. I was able to muster enough courage to walk towards left and fortunately chanced upon a row of already closed business establishments with a bar still opened. Scared to ask for direction since all customers seemed drunk, I walked straight hoping to find a clue to shed some light where I was.

After four streets and still no clue as to my exact location, I walked back to the bar and a guy outside (who was throwing up at that time) noticed me approaching. Though enveloped with fear and doubt, I asked the man how to get out of the woods to 1& 9 where the Korean Supermarket was. The guy was obviously drunk but seemed to be in his right senses as he directed me to go right and walk straight for a mile.

I then knew I was in the heart of Ridgefield and Fairview when I saw some familiar street signs. The guy was right. I just had to walk a mile or a little more with no recourse and no options. I felt safe as I came to the main road and cars came rushing by, splashing water and leaving me more drenched. Minding nothing but to reach home and get dry, my almost 30-minute ordeal amid the rain and flooded streets finally ended when all signs and landmarks became familiar to me and home was in sight.

The following day, Saturday, June 8, my family scheduled a “surprise” luncheon bash at a posh Asian buffet restaurant in Secaucus. Surprise? When I already knew the guests they invited since a few of them almost gave away the schemed guest list. But it was fun and truly one memorable event. My wife, Venny, and kids Brian, John, and Kenneth knew exactly who to contact for that special occasion.

Guests included: Knor Latoja Yalong with kids Kaia and Bleu, Geraldine L. Yalong and kids Gilda and Kenzoe, Helen Latoja and daughter Missy, Evelyn L. Cumberbatch, Dr. Leo A. Dela Cruz, Momar G. Visaya, Herbert Y. Magtoto, Linda M. Mayo, Joey M. Mayo, Virgie Alvarez, Dheng Villanueva, Rose P. Javier, and Rolly Javier.

On Sunday, another small gathering was held in my new office along Hoboken Avenue in Jersey City hosted by some friends who missed the supposedly Friday party. Present were Rey Luna and wife Flor, John Santos, Moroccan model Yacine Falih, and Egyptian model Ahmed Hamed.

By Monday, June 10, I received a truly surprise birthday visit from close chums Glenn Abrenica and Joann Sy Bahtia who came with food, cake, and gifts. An intimate party became a fitting finale for my sixty-seventh birthday.

To my family and all my friends who remembered me on that special day, “Thank You” for sharing with me all the blessings and happy memories of June 7, 2013.

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