NJ teen tops PIDCI 2010 Diwa ng Kalayaan Search

by Tambi Wycoco

NEW JERSEY — Christine C. Soriano, a seemingly shy but smiling 18-year old New Jersey-born dalagang Pilipina (Filipina maiden) romped away with the number one Filipino and Filipino-American beauty title Diwa ng Kalayaan in a spectacular four-hour pageant conducted by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) as one of the main features of the commemoration of the 112th Anniversary of Philippine Independence.

Christine topped nine other beauteous teenagers and a 20-year-old to take the most coveted sash, crown and the only scepter that went with the prized title of the evening, the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence).  She also received the major prize of the contest, a round trip airline ticket to the Philippines, and the other title, Ambassador of Goodwill for PIDCI and the Filipino community of the Greater New York area.  Earlier in the evening, she was chosen as “Miss Photogenic.”

Christine is the daughter of the Reverend Dr. Gaudencio Soriano, Sr.  and Elizabeth C. Soriano.  Reverend Soriano is the founder and Titular Bishop of the Faith Restoration Center and the Association of Christian Evangelists.  His wife, also a Reverend, graduated from the Lighthouse Bible College in Brooklyn with a Bachelor in Theology and a Bachelor in Christian Education.

The 2010 Diwa ng Kalayaan loves to sing and dance and play the piano, guitar and drums.  A senior, she is graduating this year as an honor student at Fort Lee High School, and has been accepted and offered a scholarship at the William Paterson University.  Christine is active in school sports being the Captain of the soccer, basketball and softball varsity teams.

She is the recipient of this year’s Best Kids Foundation Award as one the Ten Outstanding Kids for 2010 in the Eastern Seaboard.

The first runner up title of Miss Filipino American was won by Justine Omilig, a 19-year-old born-and-raised in Brooklyn, New York. She goes to the City University of New York (CUNY) Hunter College for a degree in Sociology.  The judges also bestowed her Miss Congeniality.

Justine is the daughter of Robert and Sany C. Omilig.  She is a working student putting in hours at the Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Services.

Another Brooklynite is 20-year-old Manila, Philippines-born winner of the second runner up title Mutya ng SilanganArmi Piamonte.   Her parents are Arnel and Marcela Piamonte.

Registering for the Diwa ng Kalayaan Search, Armi wrote: “I am inspired by strong, independent and successful women.  They exude confidence, a strong-willed manner, and creativity.  Even with their strength, they still retain their femininity and womanly charm.  They are ever progressing because of their passion for life, and thus I wish to emulate them and become one as well.”

Winning the title Mutya ng Silangan, and being in Interior Design at New York’s famous Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), one begins to see Armi is well on the way to becoming the woman she emulates.

Third runner up with the title Hiyas ng Pilipinas is Nia Murielle Rodriguez, 18, daughter of Lino and Valerie Rodriguez of Jackson Township in New Jersey.

Nia works at Abercrombie & Fitch and goes to Rutgers University where she is working towards a Major in Accounting.

Denisegail Rendo
r, 18, won the title Bituin ng Luzon (Star of Luzon).  Her school is the Mount St. Dominic Academy.  She was born in Los Angeles, California.   She lives with her parents Gilbert and Daisy Rendor in Nutley, New Jersey.

Alyssa Roldan
, first of three 17-year-olds in the group, goes by the name of Alys, Lyss, Lyssie and Cherries to her friends at Freehold High School in New Jersey, but at the Diwa ng Kalayaan Pageant Gala, she drew the name Bituin ng Visayas from the judges. 

Alyssa, who was born in New Jersey, writes in her registration essay: “Philippine Independence Day is a time to recognize and appreciate the fact that I am a Filipino American.  It is the one day of the year where Filipinos come together, as a people, to celebrate being Filipino.  It is a special day where I am able to rejoice in my heritage, my culture, my family, and my traditions.  I am proud to be a Filipino and I hope that I am able to raise cultural awareness.”

Winning the title Bituin ng Visayas, the daughter of Roy and Arlene Roldan can now do just that more fervently:  raise awareness to Filipino culture.

Maria Camille Cezar garnered the Bituin ng Mindanao title, the second of three Philippine-born among the 11 contestants.  She is another 18-year-old and another suburban New Yorker who lives with her parents Romeo and Marinella Cezar in White Plains.

Camille is majoring in Accounting at nearby Westchester Community College.

Chelsea Evangelista, 18, is now the holder of the title Miss Manila.  She was born in New Jersey to Raymond and Gigi Evangelista of Howell, New Jersey.

Chelsea is taking a Nursing course at Brookdale Community College and also works at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Binibining Sampaguita is Jessica Dawn Bolandrina.  Of all the Diwa ng Kalayaan 2010 candidates, Jesi is the only candidate native to Boston, Massachusetts, having been born in the tea party city 18 years ago to Joseph M. and Gretheline R. Bolandrina. The family still calls the Massachusetts area home.

Jessica is a Journalism student at Northeastern University and is the in-house Graphics Designer at the publication Planet Philippines-New England.  The monthly publication’s Publishing Director is her Mom, Gretheline.

Two titles went to Janine Ashley Jacob: the Binibining Jasmine contest title and Miss Popularity. 

Ashley, 17, was born, grew up and still stays in the Bronx, New York where her parents, Joe and Rorie Jacob make their home.  She goes to Preston High School.

Writing “What Philippine Independence Day” means, Ashley contends it means “freedom, freedom to do almost anything.  We can express, appreciate and be aware of our culture and heritage, and be proud of who we are.”

The title of Binibining Ylang Ylang, went to Inez, or Ina Toribio, 17, who was also born in the Philippines.  The Toribio family, with father Edwin and mother Anita, is from Yonkers, New York.

Inez goes to Maria Regina High School and is employed at The Rivera Bake House.  In her essay “What Philippine Independence Day means to me” she writes: “Philippine Independence Day expresses a day where Filipinos can celebrate their pride for our culture and how far our country has come from our independence.”

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