NEW YORK — The countdown to the 116th Philippine Independence Day celebrations in New York City, which falls on June 1, officially kicked off February 15 with the presentation of the first batch of Diwa Ng Kalayaan beauty pageant contestants and Mrs. Kalayaan popularity finalists held at the Philippine Center.
This year’s first batch of Diwa ng Kalayaan candidates includes Kristine Joy Poraque, 25, Glendale, NY; Illin Bangug, 17, Hackettstown, NJ; Stella Marie Cabrestante, 19, Glendale, NY; and Ria Lalaine Rius, 25, Jamaica, NY. The Diwa ng Kalayaan pageant of Filipina beauty, brains, and talent will hold a coronation night on May 3, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m., at Double Tree by Hilton in Newark.
The first batch of Mrs. Kalayaan candidates included Michelle Loretto Llado, Divina Rule, and Lourdes Sardoma, mother of 2013 Diwa ng Kalayaan Kristine Liwag. This year’s coronation night will be held on April 12, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m., at Double Tree by Hilton Airport at 128 Frontage Road in Newark, New Jersey.
“These ladies are very beautiful; and each one is a staunch supporter of PIDCI’s mission to promote the rich historical and cultural heritage of Filipinos through the annual celebration of the Philippine Independence Day,” PIDCI President Fe Martinez said.
Besides the honor to become an Ambassador of Goodwill for one year, the Diwa ng Kalayaan and Mrs. Kalayaan winners will ride on a festive parade float during the Philippine Independence Day parade along Madison Avenue, the largest parade of its kind outside the Philippines. They will be formally introduced to the public during the cultural festival program held near Madison Square Park after the parade.
The Diwa ng Kalayaan, a pageant of Filipina beauty, brains, and talent, was launched by Philippine Independence Day Committee (PIDC) 1991 Overall Chair Nilda Jaynal on the second year of the Philippine Independence Day Parade in the Big Apple. The reigning Diwa ng Kalayaan is Kristine Liwag (NY). Last year’s beauty titlists also included Miss Filipino-American Riana Aldana (NJ), Bituin ng Luzon (Star of Luzon) Allysson Prada (NY), Bituin ng Visayas (Star of Visayas) Judith Ashley Quilapio (NY), and Bituin ng Mindanao (Star of Mindanao) Kirsten Claire Fernandez (NJ). Former Diwa ng Kalayaan titleholder Christine Sienicki now dances for Radio City Hall’s The Rockettes.
The Mrs. Kalayaan pageant, a mere popularity contest, was the brainchild of PIDCI President Fe Martinez. It was launched three years ago.
The Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) is a nonprofit organization best known for the biggest Philippine Independence Day parade outside the Philippines, which is held first Sunday of June 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.
PIDCI’s pre-Independence Day celebrations are as follows: Presentation of Candidates for Mrs. Kalayaan and Diwa ng Kalayaan (February 15); Grand Marshal Gala (March 15) at World Astoria Manor (25-22 Astoria Blvd., Astoria, NY); Mrs. Kalayaan Pageant (April 12), and Diwa ng Kalayaan Pageant (May 3). PIDCI’s post-parade event, the Independence Ball, is set June 7.
PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDITS
Photo 1: First batch of 2014 Diwa ng Kalayaan candidates include Kristine Joy Poraque, 25; Illin Bangug, 17; Stella Marie Cabrestante, 19; and Ria Lalaine Rius, 25. (Photo by Monico Rabara)
Photo 2: Mrs. Kalayaan and Diwa ng Kalayaan beauties with Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. board members and friends