NEW YORK —Accomplished medical technologist and pianist from Long Island Josephine “Joji” Vilar Rafael, who is married to Nonoy Rafael, with whom she has three children: Justin, Jermyn, and Jacqueline, was recently crowned 2014 MRS. KALAYAAN at the 3rd Annual MRS. KALAYAAN Pageant and Gala held at Double Tree by Hilton in Newark, New Jersey.
Organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), MRS. KALAYAAN is a popularity contest for married or formerly married Filipinas/Filipina-Americans who vie for the honor of becoming 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.
Rafael is the youngest daughter of Dr. Rustico Vilar, a dentist, and Natividad Reyes, a school teacher, who both hail from the province of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. Rafael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology and has held several positions such as laboratory supervisor, laboratory inspector, and senior technologist at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and quality management specialist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is also a seasoned pianist who can play a wide range of music from classical to pop, and an active volunteer at the Holy Spirit Church in New Hyde Park, Long Island.
At the pageant and gala, Rafael was given her sash, crown, and scepter by 2014 PIDCI Grand Marshals Drs. Emilio and Felicisima Quines, 2013 MRS. KALAYAAN Rose Pacia Labelle, Consul General Mario De Leon Jr., and PIDCI President Fe Martinez.
Rafael’s additional prizes have included AZ Global Travel and Tours’ round trip tickets to the Philippines, where she will join the 9th Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour to the Philippines; and a Healthy and Glowing Skin gift certificate from Joey Bautista Cruz.
Other new beauty titlists crowned, alongside Rafael, were Mrs. Kalayaan Filipino-American Ruth Sityar Medina of Elmhurst, NY; Mrs. Kalayaan Philippines Tenette Juarez Lirio of Farmingdale, NY, who was also voted Mrs. Congeniality, Most Photogenic; and Best in Evening Gown; Mrs. Kalayaan Luzon Marites Calvar of Stamford, CT; Mrs. Kalayaan Visayas Michelle Llado-Wroz of Union, NJ; Mrs. Kalayaan Mindanao Rufina Peralta Ghan of New York, NY; Mrs. Kalayaan Manila Marifil Taneo Kreisberg of Queens, NY; Mrs. Kalayaan Sampaguita Mia Jose of Mountainside, NJ; and Mrs. Kalayaan Ylang-Ylang Sheila Binas of Astoria, NY.
PIDCI’s Elvira Reyes and Albert Diala chaired this year’s pageant and gala. Co-chairs were Beth Manalo, Maryann Sanagustin, Joy Aligarbes, Dora Koltsidis, Jeanette Corpuz, and Leila Morales Fernandez.
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.