The Kalayaan Picnic held last June 7 at Halmich Park, Warren drew some 3,000 revelers, living up to its billing as the most popular Filipino-American event in Michigan.
The annual Kalayaan Picnic is a flagship project of the Filipino American Community Council of Michigan (FILAMCCO) with incumbent President Imelda Martin Hum leading the celebration.
Many of the picnic goers came from places as far as Grand Rapids, Saginaw and Monroe. Several others came from nearby states. Some 600 members of the Iglesia ni Cristo joined the event for the first time.
A group of Filipinos from Toronto also participated in the celebration.
The Halmich pavilion was packed with people. Hundreds had to set up tables and tents outside the building and under the trees. The parking lot was also crowded, and many had to park their cars about a quarter mile away.
In the pavilion, all the long tables were occupied and overflowing with food of all kinds, mostly favorite Filipino dishes.
The revelers and their guests devoured crispy lechon, adobo, menudo, pinapaitan, noodles of all shapes and kinds, seafood, etc., conveniently forgetting their doctor’s warning against too much eating and ingesting too much cholesterol.
The picnic goers also enjoyed eating food donated by Fuji Buffet and 168 Asian Mart owners Ricky Dong and Cindy Wang. They devoured a whole Asian Mart’s lechon (roasted pig) served on the table of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Michigan.
The celebration opened with the traditional parade of colors, participated in by FILAMCCO-affiliated organizations and made more colorful by the participation of Ginang Diwa ng Kalayaan Anita Sodawalla, reigning Mrs. Philippines-Michigan Carol Ambas and Miss Philippines-Michigan Meaghan Penning.
Before the start of the cultural-entertainment program, the winners of the barbecue-grilling contest were announced by committee chairperson Flor Sitchon. The winners were Edna Encabo, first place; Winnie Shelby, second place; and Ellen Derengowski, third place.
This year’s picnic, which was in celebration of Philippine Independence Day, was made more memorable with a program that featured entertainment and cultural dances.
With Attorney Carol Anasco D’Agostino serving as emcee, the program started with the singing of the US and Philippine National Anthems. The Kapulungan ng mga Katolikong Pilipino sa Michigan (KKPM) Adult and Children Choir sang the Philippine anthem.
After the reading of the Philippine Independence proclamation by Flor Sitchon, Brother Bob Rowland led the invocation. Afterwards, Edith Manzano, chairperson of the overall Kalayaan Picnic committee, delivered a brief remark on the significance of the event. This was followed by a welcome remark delivered by FILAMCCO President Hum.
The cultural dances were presented by various groups, including the Filipino American Association of Great Flint, PACCM Hula Dance Troupe and the West Michigan Filipino American Association/Kasuyo Foundation.
The PACCM’s Heartstring Band under the baton of Evelyn Alip played ukulele music.
Later, the candidates for the Mrs. Philippines-Michigan 2015 title were introduced by pageant director Brenda Sanagustin. (Read separate story in this issue.)
The celebration was capped with community dancing. Music was provided by Carter Sights and Sound.