Students of Paaralang Pilipino and their friends impress the crowd with their agility as they perform a modern version of the Tinikling, a classic Filipino folk dance.
Students of Paaralang Pilipino and their friends impress the crowd with their agility as they perform a modern version of the Tinikling, a classic Filipino folk dance.

It was a romantic, memorable evening.

This aptly described the 30th annual Valentine’s Ball hosted by the Philippine American Community Council (PACCM) last Feb. 16 at Troy Marriott Hotel in Troy.

The latest PACCM’s Valentine’s Ball, as a fund raiser, was also a “box office hit” as it drew 370 guests who braved the snowy weather to motor to the Troy Marriott. It was learned that the net income was substantial.

HULA DANCE. Dancers (from left) Marissa Radowick, Dee Juco and Flor Penner are a lovely sight to behold as they perform a hula dance to the tempo of the Filipino song, Dahil sa Iyo.
HULA DANCE. Dancers (from left) Marissa Radowick, Dee Juco and Flor Penner are a lovely sight to behold as they perform a hula dance to the tempo of the Filipino song, Dahil sa Iyo.

The evening was particularly romantic and memorable to 33 couples, who celebrated their milestone wedding anniversaries.

Leading the couples who were honored with the special celebration were Dr. Isidro and Mrs. Del Almeda, who marked this year their 50th year of marriage.

Following the Almedas were couples who observed their 45th year of marriage. They were Fred and Dr. Ellena Porte, Dr. Roberto and Millie Barreto, Doctors Jose and Stella Evangelista, Dr. Pres and Rhett Maribao, Rhoades and Tess Pocalla, and Engineer Arnold and Dr. Virginia Pacis.

The other couples who marked their milestone wedding anniversaries were Salvador and Brenda Sanagustin, Dr. Ben and Remy Marquez, and Raymond and Tess Tchou,  40th year; Celso and Ofelia Magbitang, Eli and Lou Santa Maria, and Mark and Audrey Lacey, 35th year; Manuel and Divina Juco, 30th year; Tony and Kathleen San Agustin, 25th year; Vince and Liza Bonot, John and Gigi Castro, 20th year; Gary and Cantrece Cadelina, Michael and Daisy Egged, and Rene and Novella Lanzanas, 15th year; Joe and Cynthia Flores, and Brad and Arcy McFarlin, 10th year; Jeff and Ninfa Tan, and Stan and Maria White, 5th year; and Randy and Cathy Bernardez, Greg and Priscila Baker, and  Leopoldo and Carol Santiago, 1st year.

The couples were wearing resplendent, colorful suits and gowns.

After the names of each couple were announced, the man handed a red rose to his sweetheart. All the couples then danced a slow drag to the tune of “When I Fall in Love,” which was sung by versatile singer Fely Villegas.

In his message in the souvenir program, Philippine Honorary Consul General Jose Evangelista paid tribute to the couples who marked their milestone wedding anniversaries. He said, “they (couples) serve as role models for the younger couples to emulate because they symbolize success in their married lives.”

The consul and his wife, Dr. Stella Evangelista, were among the couples who celebrated their 45th year of togetherness. He gave special recognition to Stella whom he described as the “wind beneath my wings.” He said, “I want to give her credit for raising six exceptional children…”

Shortly after the couples were feted, the entertainment program unfolded.

It was highlighted by numbers presented by the Hula Dance Group headed by Flor Penner and the Tagumpay Dance Ensemble.

The Hula dancers showed once again their versatile terpsichorean skills. Flor Penner, Dee Juco and Marissa Radowick captivated the crowd when they swung in fluid, elegant motion to the tune of the Filipino classic “Dahil sa Iyo.” And they were a lovely sight to behold when they repeated the dance, this time with the quicken tempo of the same song.

Later, members of the whole Hula Dance Troupe, wearing grass skirts, danced to two more numbers — the Iorama-Te Hiva and the Tahitian Aparin Dance – to the delight of the appreciative crowd.

Aside from Penner, Radowick and Juco, the other members of the Hula Dance Troupe were Mercy Goding, Dory Cardenas, Sally Naveras, Gabrielle Caoagas, Becky Tungol, Karen Fell, Connie Sumalde and Rosemarie Caoagas.

The Tagumpay dancers, dressed in bright native costumes, also wowed the audience with the Kalesa Dance.

Then it was the turn of the PACCM kids and their friends to show the dancing skills they had learned at Paaralang Pilipino. Performing a modern version of the Tinikling Dance choreographed by Janel Castillo and Jaylin Davis, the kids impressed the audience with their agility and perfect timing as their feet avoided being hit by the fast-paced clapping of the bamboo poles.

The PACCM children and their friends who wowed the crowd were Marissa Orzame, Anthon Lazaga, Lester Villapando, John Matthew, Josh Cabato, Janela Castillo, Preston and Ethan Duller, MJ and Gabby Coagas, Gillian, Jeremy and Justin Cabrera, Benedict, and Tressamae, Bryan and Brent Duller.

The bamboo clappers were Sabrina, Josh and Lester. Liel Tungol was particularly impressive when she did a solo number.

PACCM President Becky Tungol credited the success of the entertainment program to the “program proper” committee composed of Theresa Duller, chairperson; and Flor Penner and Toni Martinez, members.

With superbly arranged music provided by Allen Carter, a talented DJ and an electronics expert, the ballroom dancing that capped the affair ended past midnight.

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