NEW YORK CITY, NY — 16-year-old High School student Mikaela Alexa Rada, whose family resides in Bayonne, New Jersey, was crowned 2014 Diwa Ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) at the 23rd annual Diwa ng Kalayaan Pageant and Gala, organized by the Philippine Independence Council Inc.’s (PIDCI) Board Members and Event Chairpersons Margie Wisotsky and Rolly Postadan, recently held at Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Newark, N.J.
Launched in 1990 by Nilda Jaynal, former overall committee chair, Diwa ng Kalayaan, a pageant of Filipina beauty, brains, and talent, has been an integral part of the annual commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day in New York City, whose cultural festival and parade along Madison Avenue are the largest outside the Philippines. More importantly, the pageant aims to instill in Filipino-American youths a greater appreciation of their cultural values and the history of their native country.
Rada, daughter of Adel and Melissa Rada, currently attends High School at High Technology High School in Lincroft, N.J. She loves music and dance, which she ably showcased by playing the keyboard, singing, and dancing to the song “A Thousand Years,” written by American singer-songwriter Christina Perri, at the pageant’s talent competition. Since the age of seven, she has been a volunteer at Blessed to Bless Foundation, which occasionally travels to the Philippines to conduct medical mission trips.
The Bayonne teen, voted Best in Talent, bested five other lovely young ladies: Shina Angeles Lingat, 18, named Ms. Filipino-American (Ms. Photogenic); Kirsten Jan Dipa Dela Cruz, 18 named Hiyas ng Pilipinas (Best in Evening Gown); Illin Bangug, 18, named Bituin ng Luzon (Ms. Charity); Ria Lalaine Rius, 25, named Bituin ng Visayas (Ms. Congeniality); and Kristine Joy Poraque Beof, 25, named Bituin ng Mindanao.
As Diwa ng Kalayaan, Rada enjoys the honor to be PIDCI’s Goodwill Ambassador for one year, besides riding a festive float at the Philippine Independence Day parade along Madison Avenue on Sunday, June 1.
At the pageant and gala, Rada was given her sash, crown, and scepter by 2014 PIDCI Grand Marshals Drs. Emilio and Felicisima Quines, 2013 Diwa ng Kalayaan Kristine Liwag, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, Vivina Malantic, and PIDCI President Fe Martinez.
Her additional prizes have included round trip tickets to the Philippines, and a Healthy and Glowing Skin gift certificate from Joey Bautista Cruz.
Christine Sienicki, Radio City Rockette and former Diwa ng Kalayaan; Rosemary Flores, performing artist; Helen Kwong La Barbera, choreographer; Grace Labaguis, marketing consultant, entrepreneur, and producer; and Dr. Cesar Malantic, physician and photographer made up the panel of judges.
PIDCI, which is celebrating its silver anniversary this year, is a nonprofit organization best known for the biggest Philippine Independence Day parade outside the Philippines, which is held first Sunday of June (June 1 this year) along Madison Avenue, accompanied by an all-day street fair and cultural festival.
These events are attended by about 100,000 predominantly Filipinos and Filipino-Americans from the New York Tri-State area and Pennsylvania, visitors from neighboring states and California, and Canada.
1. 2014 Diwa ng Kalayaan Mikaela Alexa Rada (Photo by Oliver Oliveros)
2. 2014Diwa ng Kalayaan winners Ilin Bangug, Kristen Jan Dipa Dela Cruz, Mikaela Alexa Rada, Shina Angeles Lingat, Ria Lalaine Rius, and Kristine Joy Poraque Beof (Photo by Velzon Velez)