NEW YORK – One of the six aspirants to become the 2015 Diwa ng Kalayaan titleholder is poised to be named this Saturday, April 11, during the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.’s (PIDCI) Annual Pageant and Gala event to be held at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel at Newark Airport in New Jersey. The event kicks off the 117th Philippine Independence Day celebration.
Competing for this year’s title are Joanna Lizardo, Rianne Avendula-Philips, Jazmine Emmanuelle B. Binag, Andrea Joyce Hermoso, Katherine Campbell, and Anne Marie Lim. The winner will succeed Mikaela Alexa Rada, a multi-talented teen from Bayonne, New Jersey.
Mikaela, daughter of Adel and Melissa Rada, enjoyed the honor of being PIDCI’s Goodwill Ambassador. As her top prize, PIDCI said in a statement that she had the opportunity to tour the Philippines during the Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour. She represented PIDCI in Tacloban City, Leyte with the Blessed to Bless Foundation which helped the victims of typhoon Haiyan and affected areas rebuild churches, homes and feeding the children.
This year’s six finalists are all honor students with interests in mathematics, science, law, medicine, technology, engineering, sports and performing arts.
Joanna Lizardo of Allendale, New Jersey is a sophomore at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale, New Jersey with honors in Mathematics and Science. She aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. Her passion is in music, arts and theatre, and is a member of the Cheerleading Varsity Team, Lacrosse Varsity Team and its Exclusive Travel Team.
Rianne Avendula-Philips, is a Cebuana raised in Manhattan, New York. She is a junior voice major at the famed Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Lincoln Center, New York. The athletic Honor Student plays various instruments and wants to be a lawyer. She is also a member of ARISTA National Honor Society, the ARCHON Student Service Honor Society, and president of La Guardia High School’s Filipino Club.
Jazmine Emmanuelle B. Binag, of Nutley, New Jersey was born in the Philippines. She is currently a Dean’s List freshman student at the Stevens Institute of Technology, majoring in Biomedical Engineering. She also wants to be a part-time science journalist. Her hobbies include speedpainting, writing, and playing the piano. She also plays tennis, and basketball.
Manila-born Andrea Joyce Hermoso is from Bayonne, New Jersey. A sophomore and honor student at Bayonne High School, her goal is to be a lawyer. She keeps busy by playing the guitar, dancing, drawing and is very interested in fashion.
Katherine Campbell of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey is a graduating senior from Hasbrouck Heights High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a National High School Scholar Award. She also received the Girl Scouts Silver Award and won other pageant titles such as the National American Miss NJ Teen 2013; USA Ambassador NJ Teen 2014; and Top 16th-Ms. Teen USA-NJ. She is also into sports and has a talent for music. She plans to double-major in Nutrition and Business in college.K
Anne Marie Lim, born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey is a junior at High Tech High School, a selective vocational school for STEM in North Bergen, NJ. An Honors/AP Student, she plans to study biomedical engineering, do research internships while in school, and envisions doing research in a lab or designing tools for the medical field after graduation. An avid reader, her hobbies include dance, piano and photography. She traveled to Dumaguete in 2014 to participate in a medical mission organized by her church.
According to PIDCI, the pageant “aims to develop, instill and nurture a greater appreciation among the Filipino-American youth of their Filipino values, cultural heritage, and the history of their ancestral country.”
The “Diwa Ng Kalayaan” also bears the responsibility of being the PIDCI Ambassador of Goodwill. She, together with her court, helps promote the significance of the Philippine Independence Celebration to the second generation. She also gets the opportunity to ride on a festive float during the Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue on Sunday, June 7.