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Mar 28th
Home Sections Humor & Satire Kiko, Kikays and Kenkoys Turn Kalayaan 2007 into a Komedy of Errors
Kiko, Kikays and Kenkoys Turn Kalayaan 2007 into a Komedy of Errors PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Humor & Satire
Saturday, 09 June 2007 19:58

The 2007 Grand Ball of the Kalayaan 2007 held last night at the Long Beach Convention Center turned out to be a komedy, oops, comedy of errors.

The guest speaker, visiting Philippine Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, probably started the evening’s riot of errors by coming in dressed in business attire (coat and tie). Nearly all of the Filipinos and Filipino-American community leaders who attended the event came in resplendent in the best Barong Filipino that money could buy. After all, it was the annual commemoration of the 1898 Philippine Independence from Spain. It is usually one of the biggest community events in the Filipino-American community of Southern California, the home of the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines in the world.

Sen. Juan Flavier, the guest speaker of Kalayaan 2006 (that this writer chaired), and Sen. Manny Villar, the Kalayaan 2005 keynote speaker (of which this writer was the vice chair), all came attired in the Filipino national shirt, the Barong. Why Senator Pangilinan chose to wear the "Americana" was really beyond comprehension. By the way, the event started with the temperature in the low-70s, which was normal at this time of the year in sunny California.

The guests who paid $50 per head were surprised when they occupied their tables. Why? The tables contained already the dessert (cheese cake), ice tea and two bottles of water. There was bread but no bread plate. Then the salad and the main entrée were served while the program was going on. I dubbed the main course the "Beef Barako," as it provided ample exercise to the molars of the people eating it.

The presidential table was set up on an elevated stage. Seated (from the left) were Bishop Oscar Solis, City of Carson Mayor Jim Dear, Philippine Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon, Senator Pangilinan, Kalayaan 2007 Chair Lydia Soriano, an unidentified lady and Kalayaan 2007 Vice Chair Noel Omega, who acted as event emcee. (Bishop Solis, Mayor Dear and Mr. Omega all wore Barongs.)

What was wrong with the seating arrangement in the presidential table? The Most-Reverend Solis, the first Filipino-American bishop in the Catholic Church, was made a décor or like a wall paper. He was not asked to deliver any eulogy, oops, invocation. (The Kalayaan 2005 had Bishop Solis deliver the invocation. A Filipino-American nun, Sister Christina O. Sevilla, RGS, delivered the invocation of the Kalayaan 2006 and, thereby, became the first woman to deliver it in the history of the Philippine Independence commemoration in Southern California.)

Politics at the Presidential Table?

The presence at the presidential table of Carson Mayor Jim Dear was uncalled for because the Grand Ball was held in the neighboring city of Long Beach. The Long Beach mayor was nowhere to be found. A Filipino-American mayor, the Hon. Tony Cartagena of the City of Walnut, was present but he was seated with his company in an ordinary table. The Carson Mayor Pro-tem and Councilman Elito Macapagal-Santarina was present at the event. With due respect to Mayor Dear, seating him at the presidential table was really an insult to Mr. Santarina and his Filipino-American supporters. Mayor Dear and Mr. Santarina were opponents in the last mayoralty election. The Kalayaan 2007 committee appeared to be siding with a Caucasian public official at the expense of his political rival, Mr. Santarina, who happens to be one of the top Filipino-American elected officials in Southern California. Protocol and common sense were thrown out of the convention center last night.

Then came the traditional singing of the national anthems of the United States and the Philippines. A Filipino-American gentleman rendered a live rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. But nobody sang live the Philippine national anthem. Instead, a "canned" instrumental version of the Philippine national anthem followed. Then a group of young Filipino beauties carried to the dance floor banners that depicted the evolution of the Philippine flag. Then the same pre-recorded instrumental version of the Philippine national anthem was played again. Sounded like Double Jeopardy to many in the crowd or to use another adage, adding insult to injury.

Filipino Heritage

Part of the program was a number in which the winners of the first-ever Kalayaan popularity contest (dubbed a beauty pageant) paraded to the dance floor, accompanied by the same Filipino flags (and two Kalayaan 1998 banners) that were carried this time by gentlemen. The "beauties" came in attired in Filipino costumes – from Igorota to Muslim to Maria Clara. Then they danced, nope, actually gyrated to the tune of "Ka-kalog-kalog, Ta-talbog-talbog." It was like a Southern California version of that now-infamous Filipino TV show, the Wowwawee. Yes, what a comical rendition of a Filipino folkdance, if one could call it a dance at all. And the Philippine Independence Grand Ball is supposed to present the best of the Filipino heritage.

I dropped by Friday night (June 8th), at the same venue to cover for this online magazine the supposed "coronation" of the Kalayaan popularity-contest winners. Senator Pangilinan was there and he was attired in the same business suit while majority of the Filipinos in attendance (including this writer) came in wearing their Barongs. But the motley crowd did not reach 200 souls.

The Kalayaan 2007 chair made history on June 9th. She delivered both the welcome address and closing remarks. The closing speech was sandwiched between photo ops, the chair's thank-you ad libs to the remaining KOSCI supporters and awarding of certificates to the Kalayaan chair by some American local and county offices – all done on the stage but which were not included in the printed program. But then the sound system used was not good and people at the back could hardly understand what the speakers, including Senator Pangilinan, were saying. So, some of the people in attendance started talking to their seat mates or friends while the speakers were delivering their talks.

Before the closing remarks cum turn-over ceremony were held, people, including this writer, started leaving for the exit. The program was still growing strong at 10:30 p.m., like that Energizer bunny . . .

The Kalayaan 2007 will turn out to be not only a monumental comedy of errors but also a financial disaster. Please see Part II of this series about the anatomy of the Kalayaan 2007 fiasco, including its trade show also held at the Long Beach Convention Center. It attracted about 50 paying booth exhibitors, many of whom complained about the lack of people visiting the exhibit area. The trade-show organizers never announced that the car show, which was a highlight of the event, was cut only to one day because of lack of insurance-coverage.

We reported earlier in this web site that 12 out of the 21 members of the Kalayaan of Southern California, Inc. (KOSCI) Board of Directors resigned about a month before the event. The KOSCI treasurer and Entertainment Committee chair also resigned. The resignations were unprecedented and shook the Kalayaan organization. But those who resigned as directors or officers continued to comply -- as mere volunteers -- with their commitments. These were selling dinner tickets or soliciting advertisement for the souvenir booklet, five of which were normally distributed per table during the past Kalayaan events. Last night, the KOSCI did not distribute any copy of the souvenir booklet.

(To be continued . . .)

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Last Updated on Saturday, 24 November 2007 19:44

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