[box type=”default” size=”large”] Revelers pack Halmich pavilion; tables overflowing with food [/box]
The annual Kalayaan Picnic hosted by the Filipino-American Community Council (FILAMCCO) continues to live up to its billing as the most popular Filipino-American event in Michigan.
FILAMCCO officers estimated at 3,000 the number of attendees in this year’s Kalayaan Picnic which was held last June 7 at its usual venue, the Halmich Park in Warren. The Filipino Star News’s estimate was 2,500.
Many of the picnic goers came from places as far as Grand Rapids and Monroe. Several came from nearby states.
The Halmich pavilion was so crowded with people that 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 (roasted pig), adobo, menudo, noodles of all shapes and kinds, seafood, etc., ignoring their doctor’s warning against too much eating and ingesting too much cholesterol.
The picnic goers enjoyed eating food donated by Fuji Buffet owner Ricky Dong. Fuji’s fried shrimps and fish, sushi of all kinds and crabs placed in trays were gone in a few minutes after these were placed on the table.
This year’s picnic, which was in celebration of Philippine Independence Day, was made more memorable by a resolution passed by the Warren City council. Presented by City Council President Cecil D. St. Pierre during a program highlighting the event, the resolution stated that the City of Warren is “honored to be the community chosen to host this important celebration and is proud to celebrate Filipino heritage.”
The celebration opened with the release of 116 balloons which symbolized the 116 years of Philippine independence. This was followed by the traditional parade of colors, participated in by FILAMCCO-affiliated organizations and made more colorful by the participation of Ginang Diwa ng Kalayaan 2014 ladies dressed in traditional Filipiniana outfit.
With Attorney Carol Anasco D’Agostino and Wilmar Suan serving as emcees, the program started with the singing of the US and Philippine National Anthems by the Kapulungan ng mga Katolikong Pilipino sa Michigan (KKPM) Adult and Children Choir.
After the invocation led by Fe San Agustin, welcome remarks by overall event committee chairperson Willie Dechavez and greetings by Iqbal Singh of DTE Energy, FILAMCCO President Imelda Martin-Hum delivered a speech in which she cited the historical significance of the Kalayaan Picnic.
Martin-Hum said that the freedom Filipinos enjoy today was “paid with blood, sweat and tears by our forefathers.”
After the recognition of the Diwa ng Kalayaan, a special cultural dance was presented by the Kalamazoo-Philippine Association of Southwest Michigan Dancers.
The cultural program, emceed by Circulo Pampangueno Flor Sitchon, began with a dance entitled “Imunan” by the University of Michigan Filipino-American Students Association. Afterwards, Johanna Cueco and Christopher Cabatu did a duet on the song “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang.”
Next was a presentation by the West Michigan Filipino American Association/Kasuyo Foundation of the classic dance “Leron Leron Sinta.” The KKPM Adult Choir then sang “Sanlibong Buhay.” This was followed by a performance by members of the popular PACCM Hula Dance Troupe who danced the Tahitian “Aparima.”
Afterwards, Lelian Grabowski and Bebeth Angaray did a duet on “Isang Lahi.” The West Michigan Filipino American Association/Kasuyo Foundation returned to the dance floor to present the immortal dance “Tinikling.” The singing of “Handog ng Pilipinas sa Mundo” by all the participants in the program capped the cultural presentation.
The candidates for the Miss Philippines-Michigan 2014 title were also introduced during the program by Ryan Rosario.
Among the special guests at the celebration were APIA Vote-Michigan President Theresa Tran, State Senator Steven Bieda of Warren, State Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy, Warren City Council President Cecil St. Pierre, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, Blackwell Institute Principal Patricia Hines, Blackwell Institute Vice Principal Carl Hankins and Iqbal Singh and Carmen Johnson of DTE Energy.