FilAm Group Prepares for RP’s 110th Independence Day Celebration

by Rene Villaroman/

LOS ANGELES — The Kalayaan 2008 Organizing Committee has four months to complete its preparations for the 2008 Philippine Independence Day celebration. The resolution was agreed upon  during a general assembly held at the Philippine Consulate General’s Office on Wednesday, January 30.

“We have been scouting for places and have identified two dates for the celebration,” said Noel Omega, Grand Chairman of Kalayaan 2008. Omega said the date for the celebration is still being finalized.

“If we hold the celebration on June 7, the FilAms in Carson would not be able to participate. On June 14, we will be competing with a Rotarian event which might be held in the South Bay,” Omega announced.

Omega said that the committee is looking at a number of possible venues for the celebration, including the back lot of Universal Studios, which can accommodate 3,000 people. Other possible venues include the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, the Los Angeles Cathedral of Angels Plaza (can hold 1,500 people), and the Vibiana Event Center in Downtown LA. Omega also mentioned Woodley Park and Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley as possible venues if the committee could secure permits on time.

Last year’s two-day celebration was held at the Long Beach Convention Center and featured an expo-type gathering that culminated in a gala dinner dance on the second day. The expo included an automobile display, cultural presentations and merchant booths. Attendance. however, was lackluster because there was not enough time to prepare and market the event to the FilAm community.

Darma Umayam, a beauty pageant organizer, proposed reserving a five star hotel, like the Bonaventure.

“We don’t have much time. [Let’s just] get a hotel,” she said. “The Universal back lot would cost at least $100,000.” Omega said that a venue scout, Maita Henson-Miyake, would have at least three recommendations this week.

Omega appointed nine committee chairs on Wednesday, including Larry Pelayo, Historical; Darma Umayam, Pageant; Dr. Carlos Manlapaz, Gala; Jojit Paredes, Program; Maridy Masicat, Community Relations; Thelma Calabio, Ways and Means; Willie Manacsa, Entertainment; and Willie Bartilad, Mindanao Coordinator; Benjie Bautista, Festival.

“Let us unite for this endeavor,” he said, encouraging members to bring in more members of their respective organizations. Pageant Chair Darna Umayam announced that her committee would have incentives for people who can bring in candidates for the pageant in terms of commissions generated by the candidates. “Business owners could also make a little money by buying tickets and sponsorships,” Omega said.

Asian Journal asked him if he would make public the financial records of last year’s Kalayaan committee, and he said that he would like to see the report himself.

“Although we did not make money, we should not be ashamed of what we’ve accomplished then,” Omega emphasized. “We had our first expo. We had a fantastic gala. Just like every activity that we do, we met the challenges and we overcame them,” Omega said.

Election of Steering Committee members will be held at the Philippine Consulate during the organizing committee’s next regular meeting on February 27.


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