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After being housed at Halmich Park in Warren for more than 25 years, Kalayaan is moving into a new indoor facility at the Southfield Pavilion on July 15 this year. The event promises to bring novelties to its day-long activities including space for over 2000 revelers, ample parking, greater participation in its aesthetic production, additional vendors to sell products and services, bigger opportunities to renew and widen circles of friendships, enjoy an immense variety of food and a whole new gamut of excitement yet to surprise us.
Kalayaan this year will be divided into 2 modules: one will run from 10:am to 5:00 pm which is the original framework that covers the parade of organizations led by the current and past presidents of Filamcco, beauty pageant winners and their courts, welcome remarks by the Filamcco president, presentation and acknowledgment of major sponsors, government officials, VIP guests, and community leaders. The performances will cover a variety of presentations that will include songs, dances, instrumental playing, band gigs, and martial arts demonstrations. An added feature this year is the inclusion of some ethnic performances from Asian groups. The other is the Fashion Walk to unveil vogue and trends among Filipino models and other models across ethnic communities.
The second segment of Kalayaan is dubbed “Diverse City” It will run from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and it will feature gaming competitions, karaoke singing, and cosplay. Cosplay is an activity and performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. Favorite sources include cartoons, comic books, television series, rock music performances, and video games.
Overall chair of the event is President Ryan Rosario who had been relentless in his desire to bring constant innovation, variation, freshness, creativity, and restyling to Filamcco events and activities. Backing him up in various roles of responsibilities are Betsy Henry, chair of business vendors, Resty Teodoro for venue arrangement, LenLen Jenks for government officials invite, Rob Dionisio, lead for cosplay and Arcie Gemino, chair of daytime program of activities
Now that your curiosity had been aroused by the above communique, it’s time for organizations, families, individuals, and anyone whose feet got initially wet from the enticing descriptions above to gear yourselves up for this much-anticipated affair to remember
Between now and close to the day of the event, Filamcco will continue to bring you updates and new information about Kalayaan. Stay tuned!
An annual tradition that had been observed for the last 21 years by PACCM is the Recognition Dinner given to graduates of the Filipino community. Every year invitation is sent to high school and college students and graduates of higher education such as those who have earned their master’s and doctoral degrees to participate in the celebration of their commencement from their respective schools, colleges, and universities.
This year’s celebration is particularly sad and mournful but equally nostalgic and sentimental because the initiator of this event, Dr. Efren Platon, also a past president of PACCM recently passed away in March. To his credit is the birth of this brainchild he conceived in 2002 that flourished through the years and has now become a historical tradition. It’s Dr. Platon’s unique way of giving back to the community and what a notable way to honor students for their educational achievements.
On June 24, 2023, the class of 2023 will be honored with a ceremony that will begin with dinner the graduates and their families will enjoy with the PACCM board and other guests, then followed by the keynote speech of the Reverend Pastor Rodel Endaluz of the Elim Restoration Church. Pastor Rodel had been a frequent guest to lead prayers in community signature events and had been a Kiwanis inspirational speaker at a Prayer Breakfast to celebrate the lives of departed Kiwanians. Following the keynote speech is a simple ceremony where the graduates are awarded certificates by current and past presidents of PACCM, and stoles the parents’ graduates wrap around their necks that symbolize our country of origin. The stoles bearing our country’s flag are specially made and ordered from the Philippines for this particular occasion. The graduates are asked to speak briefly about themselves and mostly they share honors received and their plans for their future. Individual and group photographs are captured to keep memorabilia of this cherished commemoration.
The Recognition dinner event for graduates is held annually and coordinated under the auspices of yours truly, Arcie Gemino with the assistance of co-chair, Amy Risvold. PACCM is eagerly waiting to celebrate the members of the class of 2023.
First, the Madz, as they are lovingly called was outstanding. As a musician and lover of choral music, I was impressed not only by their technical choral skills but by their musicality. The impressively varied repertoire included the serene and peaceful Prayer of Saint Francis, exotic and multi-rhythmic songs from India, the popular crowd-pleasing Only You, and patriotic songs from the Philippines. The choral technique was astounding – the blending of voices was such that you seem to hear only one voice when a section is singing, the rhythm precisely executed, the dynamics very controlled from the softest pianissimo to the forte that sounds like a much larger choir, and the phrasing impeccable.
Of course, this should not come as a surprise to people who have heard them before. The Madz is one of the most acclaimed choirs in the world and has the distinction of being the first choir to win two times (19977 and 2007), the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing, the most prestigious choral competition in the world also called the Olympics for Choral Singing. To be eligible to compete in the Grand Prix, a choir must be the winner of one of six designated international choral competitions (https://youtu.be/ZPMzJiM3tyE). The Madz who was designated by UNESCO as Ambassadors for Peace continues to be a source of pride for Filipinos.
Second, the Madz concert reminded me that the Philippines is a musical and singing country. Filipinos learn to sing from childhood, thanks to the popularity of karaoke. Choral singing is also encouraged, and you can see active participation in church choirs, school choirs from elementary to college, and even choral groups in workplaces. There are competitions for solo and ensemble singing that has brought vocal singing to a high level in the Philippines. No wonder Filipinos all over the world are winning competitions (https://youtu.be/yha6YcpjpL4). Filipino composers have also written more choral works and their compositions are now being performed by choirs all over the world (https://youtu.be/JH0FdnLjLGk). As a piano teacher, I believe we should continue this tradition in our adopted country because music education not only teaches how to perform music but also teaches cognitive development skills like pattern recognition, memory skills, analytical thinking, and other transferable skills like problem-solving and time management. I also believe that music adds another dimension to life and makes a person more human.
Third, the Madz concert was proof of the adage “Where there is a will, there is a way.” The Detroit area was not a scheduled stop of the Madz tour. They were scheduled to perform the following day in Grand Rapids but at the last minute, they contacted the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Michigan (UPAAM) President Victoria Bryan if UPAAM could sponsor a concert in the Detroit area. Because of the short notice, there were doubts that UPAAM could pull it off. Victoria Bryan, with her dynamic, energetic, and “it can be done” leadership, felt that it was a wonderful way to celebrate UPAAM’s 40th anniversary this year, so UPAAM plowed ahead, and the dream concert became a reality and a huge success.
The concert would not have been possible without the support of other Filipino organizations and the Detroit Filipino community, which brings us to the next point – the Bayanihan spirit thrives here in Detroit. The Philippine Medical Association of Michigan (PMAM), the local chapter of the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Society of America (UPMASA), the Philippine Nurses Association of Michigan (PNAM), and the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM) provided support to help defray the expenses, not to mention all the advertisers and people who bought donor tickets. Despite the rain that poured the whole day, the concert was well attended with more than 420 music lovers.
The Madz concert came at a time when we needed it, helping heal our souls from the depression brought about by the pandemic. For me, there is no musical instrument like the human voice and there is nothing more soothing than many voices blended together. If you listened to their rendition of “Prayer of St. Francis” you would have experienced hope and peace beyond this troubled world’s understanding (https://youtu.be/P8ZvipmOsj8).
Yes, the Madz continues to be a beacon of hope!
The University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Michigan (UPAAM) has announced the competition for the 2023 Outstanding Youth of Michigan Awards (OYM). According to UPAAM President Victoria Reyes Bryan, the OYM competition is open to 2023 high school graduates of Filipino heritage residing in Michigan, who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in academics, community service & leadership, performing arts & letters, visual arts, and sports/athletics.
Each candidate’s application should include the following:
The application documents must be submitted online to Roy Coloma at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 8, 2023. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Each awardee will be officially informed by the Awards Committee. Selection of the awardees is expected to be completed by May 27, 2023.
For any questions, please call any member of the Search committee:
Eden Alfaro 586-979-2032, Norma Bada 248-252-1294, Lavinia Mateo 248-318-5897, Delia Rayos 313-885-1862, and Victoria Bryan 313-378-9337.
The University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Michigan (UPAAM) will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a gala on Sunday, June 25 at 3 pm at the Italian American Banquet and Conference Center, 39200 Five Mile Rd., Livonia. The event will also feature the Outstanding Youth of Michigan Awards (OYM) and the induction of the new set of UPAAM officers.
Established in 1983, UPAAM is a nonprofit organization exempt from Federal Income Tax under Section 501 C (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. UPAAM serves not only to maintain close relationships between the university and its alumni in Michigan but also to serve the local community by presenting cultural programs and educational lectures, awarding scholarships to outstanding high school graduates, and preserving Filipino and alma mater traditions through other civic activities.
Recognizing that the youth is the key to our future, the OYM Program was started in 1984 to recognize the outstanding achievements of high school graduates of Filipino descent who reside in Michigan and inspire them for continued excellence. This scholarship awards program recognizes those who have excelled not only in academics but also in community service, leadership, athletics, performing arts, and creative arts. Since 1984, there have been 214 OYM awardees, and they have become successful doctors, lawyers, engineers, corporate executives, teachers, and others.
Over the years, UPAAM has presented cultural presentations featuring well-known artists like pianists Cecile Licad and Raul Sunico, guitarist Michael Dadap, opera singer and composer Fides Cuyugan, UP Concert Chorus, and this year 2023, the world-renowned The Philippine Madrigal Singers. UPAAM provides quarterly lecture series presenting experts in many areas of interest and concern to the community, like Diabetes, Antibiotic Resistant Diseases, Personal Finance, and Computer Scams.
During Covid, UPAAM volunteered, donated, and helped fellow alumni and their families during their most challenging times. The OYM Program continued with an online process in 2020, 2021, and 2022 due to social gathering restrictions. The School Supplies Rescue and Recycle S2R2 Project, which started in 2022, was one of our greatest successes in sending ten balikbayan boxes to the remote and rural areas of the Philippines. These boxes contained school supplies, books, and board games, donated to six schools in Isabela, Cavite, and Sorsogon.
At the June 2025 gala, the keynote speaker and inducting officer will be Dr. Augustus Peter Evangelista, MD, an OYM Award recipient in 2002. UPAAM invites everyone to the gala on June 25th, to recognize the 2023 OYM Award recipients and celebrate UPAAM’s 40th anniversary. The details are in the attached flyer. Students who are starting high school will find the event very inspiring when they listen to the encouraging words of the keynote speaker and see many of their senior peers receive their awards.
During its 40th anniversary, UPAAM seeks donors for this event and other projects. There are different levels of sponsorship: Platinum – $500 or greater donation, Gold – $250 donation, Silver – 100 donation, and Bronze – $50 donation. Businesses can also partner with UPAAM by placing ads in their 2023 Souvenir Program Book. A full-page ad in color costs $200 for the inside pages, $300 for the inside front and back covers, and $500 for the back cover. Interested parties may contact the event chairpersons: Victoria Reyes-Brian (313)-378-9337 or Roy Coloma (734)-582-3463.
Covid had not only dampened spirits but also canceled a few community events temporarily, such as Filamcco’s Miss Philippines Beauty Pageant. It was last held in 2018 and scheduled to be staged in 2020 when covid struck. It had to be put on the back burner until this year in 2023 because the other pageant, Mrs. Philippines, had to take priority as Filamcco was reorganizing to reinstate its pageant competitions. So, the Mrs. Philippines Pageant was presented in 2023 post the covid phase.
On August 19, 2023, Miss Philippines of Michigan will return, and this year’s venue will be at the St. John Banquet Center in Southfield and will be headed by Rose Caoagas who will be assisted by Menchu Concepcion and Arcie Gemino. Filamcco President Ryan Rosario had been actively planning and tending to two exciting events this summer, Kalayaan celebration and this pageant which are scheduled back-to-back for the months of July and August. What a challenging feat to achieve within a short break from each other. But Filamcco is relentless in its efforts to accomplish back-to-back events before gearing up for its final and biggest signature event of the year, Rizal Day. Event Chairperson Caoagas had reported she has a number of potential candidates already lined up, but the search is still in full swing until a sufficient number of candidates is attained.
The grand prize money for the winner is $2,000 and $500 for the runner-up. A flyer is posted elsewhere in this e-newsletter to entice interested contestants to join. Send your applications by scanning the QR code for details.
The pageant will feature the candidates in an opening dance number and segments to follow will include the introduction of the candidates, the swimsuit competition, the talent show, the evening gown parade, and the interview portion.
A distinguished panel of judges will be carefully selected who will conscientiously vote for the winner based on assigned percentages covering specific points for beauty, poise, personality, stage presence, interview, communication, talent, elegance, and appropriateness of evening wear. Trophies will be awarded for Best in Talent, Best in Swimsuit, Best in Evening Gown, Most Photogenic, and a Philanthropic Award will be given to the candidate with the highest number of tickets and ads sold.
If you or someone you know fits the description of a prospective and promising Miss Philippines candidate, make a run for it or let them know to join in this awe-inspiring competition of beauty and brains.
Since 1997, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, or NaFFAA has been the standard bearer for promoting the welfare and well-being of the four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the United States. NaFFAA envisions a unified Filipino American community that is culturally, economically, and politically empowered and engaged. Its mission is to serve as the voice through leadership development, civic engagement, and national advocacy.
On November 2, 2009, the US Congress thru the House of Senate and House of Representatives respectively passed House Resolution 780 recognizing every October as Filipino American History Month (FAHM) to celebrate the history and culture of Filipino Americans and their historic contributions to the nation.
In celebration of Filipino American History Month on October 28, 2023, NaFFAA-MI presents the Ms. Senior Philippines Pageant 2023 at Royalty House (LARSA) in Warren, MI. The objective is to give honor to Filipina women who have reached the “age of elegance”, in recognition of their beauty, talent, intelligence, good character, and accomplishments. Are you ready to have fun and embark on an amazing adventure? This is for you to SHINE & SOAR! We are seeking candidates 55-85 years old and can be married, widowed, single, or divorced.
This fundraising event will support the new Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan (PACCM) building, our home away from home. It will continue to shape our future generations to embrace our cultural heritage of being Filipino.
Please see attached flyer for tickets and reservations. Your support is highly appreciated.
Alone, we can do so little, together, we can do so much”. – Helen Keller
It’s history now but it will be long remembered for its smashing success and elegance. CAPA’s Merit Awards of Excellence premiere held on May 13, 2023, at the Royalty House instantly gained a strong ovation and popularity in its infancy and maiden production. It was attended by government officials among whom were Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who delivered the keynote speech, Judge Brian Hartwell of District Court of Hazel Park, who inducted the members of the CAPA board, and Mayor of Warren James Fouts who welcomed the event in the city of Warren. Also in attendance were representatives of corporate sponsors and several Asian community leaders.
The event was organized and led by Julie Rosario, CAPA’s Executive Secretary in her first big role as event chairperson and was assisted by her husband Ryan who helped with planning, sponsorship, and logistics, and Arcie Gemino, assisted in her usual role as Event Program Director. CAPA’s president Dr. Su Polish, Executive Director Melanie Steel, and CAPA Advisory Board chairperson Dr. Connie Tingson Gatuz gave a big hand in the planning and execution. Advisory board member Dr. Ernie Mac was one of the award presenters and was instrumental in bringing good attendance to the event. Joe Javier, CAPA’s Communications chair along with Melanie Steel were engaging and charismatic masters of ceremonies. Amy Risvold, Lav Mateo, Boots Gabarda, and Ruth Rush were committee volunteers who assisted in various tasks.
CAPA sought individuals from ethnic communities who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the areas of culture, education, and community services. Each ethnic community was given the opportunity to nominate their candidates which were submitted to the CAPA Awards Committee headed by Dr. Connie Gatuz. After a thorough evaluation and deliberation of applications sent, the committee selected the top-notch candidates who qualified for the awards based on the criteria set by the Awards Committee. The select honorees were introduced on stage, awarded trophies, and given opportunities to deliver their speech acknowledgment.
Additionally, Riona Padit Rush, a recent high school graduate and a student and active assistant at PACCM-Paaralang Pilipino was one of CAPA’s Scholarship award recipients, making her another pride of the Filipino community in this awards ceremony.
Below are the featured narratives of the four Filipino awardees featured in the CAPA’s program book. Congratulations to our community’s pride!
Last April 22, the Larsa-owned Royalty House located at Old 13 Mile Rd in Warren City was suddenly dressed up as the PACCM brought the annual Spring Ball (which used to be known as Valentine’s Ball) to the city and coincided with its 40th anniversary. With this year’s theme ‘Piyesta ng Pag-ibig,’ the venue turned into one lovely place to celebrate the excellent contributions of PACCM to the community.
Likewise, various organizations, community leaders, sponsors, guests, families, and friends convened during this occasion to give honor and appreciation to outstanding individuals who have tirelessly worked to uphold Filipino culture, traditions, and values.
Mila Kim and James Adlawan opened the program with their powerhouse renditions of the US and the Philippine national anthems, respectively. Event chair Ruth Rush and co-chair Resty Teodoro expressed their gratitude and appreciation to those who extended their hands in mounting such a huge yet successful event. Rush mentioned that ‘today’s fundraising will fund the new building for the center and its programs and services.’
While waiting for the event to unfold as the night progresses, PACCM-Paaralang Pilipino Heartstring Ensemble coordinated by Majors Romy Alip, Evelyn Alip, and Cesar Gemino serenaded the crowd with their three-song rendition.
Warren City Mayor James Fouts delivered the proclamation presentation while freshly sworn-in PACCM President Becky Tungol gave her heartwarming presidential remark to the delight of those who attended the event. Dr. Connie Tingson-Gatuz, Associate VP of Student Life at the University of Michigan, led the induction of PACCM officers for 2022-2024 and congratulated each of the officers in her speech. Reverend Pastor Rodel Endaluz solemnly delivered his invocation before dinner is served.
PACCM Press Relations Officer Arcie Gemino warmly acknowledged the sponsors and guests. This year’s Fundraising Chair, Dr. Ernestina Mac, reminded everyone in the venue to be compassionate and to always remember to give back to the center which she considers ‘our home away from home.’ With Dr. Mac, her late husband, and her family’s generosity, PACCM presented them with the dedication marker naming the center’s hall as Drs. Frankie and Ernestina Mac Social Hall.
This year’s event also honored individuals who are worthy of emulation thus, a plaque of Presidential Award was awarded. Led by Filamcco President Ryan Rosario and the rest of the Filamcco Board of Directors, the $10,000 check donation was wholeheartedly accepted by PACCM Treasurer Jeff Vedua, President Tungol, and Executive Director Tony Kho. This ignited the crowd to donate and by the end of the night, the event was able to raise thousands of dollars for the benefit of the new PACCM building center.
The well-applauded Pista sa Nayon performance of Paaralang Pilipino students, teachers and volunteers shifted the mood of the audience after witnessing how well-coordinated the performance was. PACCM boasts of its well-loved coordinator Toni Martinez, renowned choreographer Annabelle Cudilla, costume crew Lulu Rodriguez and Mona Ducusin, and the center’s homegrown talents showcasing a repertoire and production performance singing the Bahay-Kubo and dancing gracefully featuring Filipino the Tinikling, Carinosa, and Ibong Kakanta-kanta.
Moreover, other active organizations’ entertaining performances didn’t go unnoticed as they rendered a song number while others danced to the tune of Paru-Parong Bukid and Ha’a Hula.
Furthermore, another highlight of the celebration was giving honor to the 20 wedding anniversary celebrants’ lovely stories while walking in their Filipiniana, barong, and modern gown and their love story being played.
Those who stayed enjoyed the public dancing that lasted until 12 AM.
Hosted by Joseph Paul Javier and Clair Marie Tumaghap, the event gathered more than 500 people.
(Interviewed Tony Kho for facts and information used in this article)
Filipinos began migrating to Michigan in 1903, following the Pensionado Act. The success of the program made other Filipinos realize the idea of migration to the US thru self-funding. The Asian American Pacific Islander in Michigan (AAPI) categorizes the Filipinos as the third highest in Michigan with 40,256 population topped by the Indian with 124,927 and followed by the Chinese with 70,159. (https://aapidata.com-02/2020)
The PACCM shall operate, manage, and maintain the community center and the Filipino School and shall promote, advance, and preserve the Filipino culture, traditions, values, and heritage by providing services and programs for the benefit of the community at large.
With a significant number of Filipinos living in Michigan, it is but a must to have a unifying organization where information, announcements, and notices can be channeled. Hence a need to form an organization. The year 1980 marked the beginning when the Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO) was born. The first elected President was Rene del Rosario from 1980-1981, followed by Oscar Aguilar from 1982-1985. These two past presidents collaborated and initiated the need for a “Home Away from Home” for Filipinos in Michigan. They formed a Task Force to look into the possibility of acquiring a building where we can meet and greet our kababayans with the ambiance of our cultural heritage embedded, with the hope of minimizing nostalgic memories from home, the Philippines. The Cultural Center marked the beginning of FILAMCCO’s humungous project in 1982. By the year 1983, the PACCM was incorporated in the State of Michigan.
Dr. Jose Rizal once said “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa paroroonan.” (He who does not look back to where he comes from, will not get to where he is going). Such is the powerful adage of our past leaders and pioneers of the cultural center. And who were they?
Mr. Bayani Domingo served as the first PACCM Chairperson from 1981-1985, followed by Dr. Roberto Barretto from 1986- 1993. Dr. Ben Fajardo became the Chairperson from 1994-2001 while from 2002-2006, Dr. Efren Platon led the Chairmanship. It was in everyone’s heart and mind that to have a building means we need to raise funds, not counting the apparently annual calamity fundraising for our homeland constantly under attack from nature’s fury. With several Filipino organization members of FILAMCCO, mostly every organization contributed to making it happen. And we did it! But of course, with excellent leadership and love for our Filipino heritage and culture, we were bound for success because “We Care” where we come from.
Finally, the end of the beginning in building fundraising was realized, when in 2001, the Board of Directors of PACCM celebrated the opening of the PACCM building located at 17356 Northland Park Court (Philippine Street), Southfield in the heart of Michigan. This place has been the home of Filipinos here in Michigan for the last 22 years!
Change is a normal phenomenon in everything we do, decisions we make to make things a lot easier and convenient and that benefits everyone. Under normal conditions, change can be good, and can be a sign of progress where everyone can be happy and contented with what they are used to, yet adaptability to change comes with the time of existence. One can be comfortable where he/she is, but embracing change is a progressive development for the better.
Dr. Ernestina de los Santos Mac was voted President of PACCM from 2007-2011, a devoted and loyal leader to the Filipino American community. From Chairperson, the top leader of PACCM is now changed to President till the present. The current President Rebecca M. Tungol has been the president of PACCM since 2012. The 11-year service along with Tony Kho as Executive Director is a sign of relentless dedication and engagement – tending, coordinating, and collaborating with other organizations in the community – to make the FIL-AM community highly visible. Likewise, Fred Porte served as Executive Director of PACCM for more than 11 years.
Some of PACCM’s projects included but were not limited to: Paaralang Pilipino (Pilipino School) since 1980, annual Consular Outreach when Philippine Consulate from Chicago comes for visa renewals, passport issuance, and application for dual citizenship. Also, Health and Wellness Fair, Annual Recognition of Graduates, and Welcome Wagon for newly arrived Filipinos migrating to Michigan. Volunteering at the World Medical Relief (WMR) is also one of the great projects where PACCM members give time to help the community.
As time goes on, the Filipino community in Michigan is gradually increasing. With the prediction of 500,000 nurses needed by 2030, it can surely in a way affect the need for a bigger building space and a bigger parking lot. A big hospital in the Detroit area is recruiting 500-600 nurses from the Philippines in anticipation of the shortage. The increasing number of family, friends, and guests renting the facility could also call for a need to accommodate everyone. Our networking with other Asian community groups and the Fil-Am community increases the bulk of needs. This means we can easily outgrow the current building, hence the need to find a bigger one to accommodate more.
In light of the above, the PACCM Board of Directors has been very busy procuring a building that satisfies the majority of the needs of members and the community. Fortunately, the Board found one area that is suitable for the growing PACCM community. The new address is 23800 Lahser, Southfield, MI. This new building is still undergoing some renovations to meet everyone’s satisfaction and once ready, this newly found “Home of the PACCM” will be our new pride moving forward.
“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” (Dr. Albert Schweitzer)
It takes lots of planning, site inspection, and meeting with city engineers to ensure everything is in order and up to code. Thank you, Noel Santos, a retired civil engineer as the team lead in the new building renovation for PACCM. Thank you, all the donors, and those who pledged to give in the near future. Indeed, the bayanihan spirit embedded in every Filipino is alive and well for the sake of preserving our cultural heritage, even when we are thousands of miles away from our Homeland, the Philippines. Mabuhay tayong lahat!
Isa sa mga pagsubok na kinakaharap ng isang biyuda o biyudo ay ang panahon na nagsisilakihan ang mga anak. Paano nga ba ipagdiwang ang kanilang kaarawan kung single parent ka at wala kang katuwang sa buhay? Tulad ko na mayroong anak na babae – ang pangalan nya ay Riona, siya ang aking panganay na anak. Bilang nag-iisang magulang, kailangan kong paghandaan at ipagdiwang ang kanyang ikalabing-walong taong kaarawan. Sa kadahilanan ito ay tradisyon nating mga Pilipino at ito rin ang isa sa mga pangarap namin ng yumao kong asawa.
Taong 2020, lumaganap ang nakakatakot na covid-19 pandemiya. Ang panahon kung saan lahat ng tao sa buong mundo ay nakatago sa loob ng bahay upang maiwasan ang nakakahawa at nakakamatay na coronavirus. Ito rin ang taon kung kelan nagdiwang si Riona ng Sweet 16 o tawagin natin American Debut. Gusto kong maalala ni Riona ang kanyang Sweet 16th Birthday kaya kinontak ko ang aking kaibigan na photographer na si Dan Moen, na nagmamay-ari ng kompanyang Dijuri Media, upang bigyan si Riona ng espesyal na kaarawan sa pamamagitan ng piktoryal. Dahil sa pandemya, hindi pwedeng magkaroon ng magarbong okasyon, o mag-imbita ng kaibigan o pamilya sa loob ng bahay. Kaya naging malikhain ako at naisip ko na bumili na lang ng iba’t-ibang regalo sa Amazon na may kabuuang labing anim. Masasabi ko na napakasaya ng anak ko noong araw na yon at hindi nya makakalimutan ang kanyang American Sweet 16 Debut sa gitna ng epidemya.
Dalawang taon ang lumipas at noong 2022, si Riona ay kwalipikadong debutante. Siya ay magdiriwang ng kanyang ikalabing-walong taon dito sa Amerika. Muli, bilang biyuda at single parent, ako ay nangamgamba at nag-iisip kung paano ko mabibigyan nang maganda at di malilimutang Cotillion o Debut ang aking dalaga? Paano ko sisimulan ang preparasyon? Sino naman ang pwedeng tutulong sa akin? Saan ko gaganapin ang debut? Sino ang magiging 18 roses & candles? Ito ang mga katanungan na paulit-ulit na naglalaro sa aking utak. Nakaramdam ako ng lungkot kasi wala akong masabihan ng problema ko. Kung buhay pa sana ang asawa ko, maibabahagi ko sa kanya ang mga katanungan ko. Kinausap ko ang kaibigan ko na si LenLen Jenks. Siya ang palagi kong kasama sa PACCM tuwing Linggo para mag volunteer sa Paaralang Pilipino. Inirekomenda nya na isali ang anak ko sa DFAA Cotillion’s Ball para magkaroon ako ng ideya kung paano paghandaan ang debut ni Riona. Ang grupong Downriver Filipino American Association of Michigan (DFAA) ay grupo ng mga Pilipino na nag-oorganisa ng eleganteng Cotillion para sa mga Filipino-American Debutante. Kinontak ko ang DFAA President na si Ceasar Sumanting at Vice President Debutant Chairman Carmen Concepcion, at nagpakilala ako sa kanila, at nagpakita ng interest na isali si Riona sa DFAA Debutante Ball na ginanap noong Hulyo 22, 2022 sa Crystal Gardens sa Southgate, Michigan. Mabait at magaling ang choreographer na si Zairel Flynn. Mabilis na natuto si Riona sa kanyang cotillion dance steps. At muli, masasabi ko na napakasaya ng anak ko noong araw na iyon at hindi niya makakalimutan ang kanyang unang karanasan sa Cotillion Debutante Dance Ball.
Ginanap ang debut ni Riona, noong Disyembre 2022 sa PACCM building sa Southfield, Michigan. Ito ang araw kung saan opisyal na syang nagdiwang ng kanyang ikalabing walong taong gulang. Ang dating imposibleng okasyon, naging posible na, sa tulong ng mga kaibigan at pamilya sa PACCM. Napakasaya ng pakiramdam ko dahil hindi ko akalain na marami ang magbibigay ng tulong sa akin. Dahil dito, lalong lumakas ang loob ko kaya pinagbutihan ko ang paghahanda sa debut ng anak ko. Maaga akong pumili at bumili ng dekorasyon sa Amazon website. Anim na buwan pa lang bago ang okasyon, nirentahan ko na agad ang PACCM building para sa petsa ng debut. At bilang aktibong miyembro ng PACCM, nakakuha ako ng discount sa renta. Tatlong buwan pa lang, namili at nag-deposit na ako ng cake sa Troy. Maaga din akong umorder ng mga pagkain mula sa Ryan-Julie Philippine Cuisine. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa aking mga pamilya at kaibigan na sina Josie Palu-ay, LenLen Jenks, Norma at Al Thompson, Tony Kho, Becky Tungol, Tess Porcalla, Dan Moen, John Sydney Johnson, Zairel Flynn, lalo na sa pamilya ko at sa lahat ng mga tumulong at dumalo para maging matagumpay ang debut ng aking anak. At muli, masasabi ko na napakasaya ng anak ko ng araw na yun at panigurado ako na hindi nya makakalimutan ang kanyang Philippine Debut.
Tunay nga ang kasabihan na “You’re not alone,” kahit ano man ang sitwasyon mo sa buhay, talagang hindi ka nag-iisa. Kailangan mo lamang magsabi at maghanap ng mga taong handing making sa iyong pinagdadaanan. Hindi nakakahiyang humingi ng tulong dahil marami tayong mga kababayan na may mabuting kalooban at bukal sa loob ang pagtulong. Lubos ang aking kaligayahan dahil naging matagumpay ang debut ng dalaga ko at natupad ang pangarap namin ng yumao kong asawa.
Para sa mga biyuda at biyudo na may mga anak at nais din ipagdiwang ang debut, nawa’y nabigyan ko kayo ng magagandang tips. Huwag kalimutang maging miyembro ng Filipino-American Widow/Widower Grief Support at sumali sa amin Potluck Picnic Event ngayong darating na Hunyo 10, 2023. Kung interesado, paki-email lamang po ako, email@example.com.