NEW YORK, NY – The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) number one beauty, brains and talent title in the Filipino and Filipino-American community of the Northeast, if not the entire United States, was won by a performing arts college student from New Jersey.
Kristine Liwag, who was born in New York City 18 years ago last March to Lourdes Sardoma and Ramon Liwag romped away with the most coveted title among 16 to 22 years old Filipino descent dalagang Filipina (single Filipino young ladies). The Liwag family now make their home in Union, New Jersey and TinTin, as Kristine is nicknamed, goes to Kean University’s Academy for the Performing Arts. She has a sister named Vanessa.
The Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) search and selection is conducted annually as one of the major commemorative events of the celebration of the anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence, this year the 115th.
As Diwa ng Kalayaan 2013, TinTin takes home the grand prize of the contest, a round trip airline ticket to the Philippines, with which she may join the Philippine Government’s Ambassadors/Consuls Generals and Tourism Directors Tour to the Philippines, including, among other land arrangements, its highlight – a courtesy call on the President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III and a luncheon in Malacañan Palace. When she goes on the Ambassadors tour, the new Diwa ng Kalayaan will also represent PIDCI and the Filipino and Filipino-American communities of the Northeastern USA as Ambassador of Goodwill.
Additionally, Kristine also wins an all-expenses-paid land tour of Cebu and Bohol, donated by Nanette Sering Wright.
She will reign during PIDCI’s months-long, multi-event 115th commemoration of Philippine Independence that has now grown from the largest celebration of Philippine Independence outside of the Philippines over the last 18 years into the largest outdoor gathering of Filipinos and their friends in the Filipino Diaspora over the last five years.
Liwag beat five other contestants who took the other titles: the first runner-up title of Miss Filipino-American was won by Riana Aldana, 20, and daughter of Rosebel and Ron Aldana of Dumont, New Jersey; who is in her junior year at Muhlenberg College working towards a double major in Media and Communication, and Dance. Dancing since she was four years old, Riana has been in intensive programs with American Ballet Theater (ABT) and the Joffrey Ballet. She gets into an internship program with Fox 5 News shortly.
The second runner-up title of Hiyas ng Pilipinas (Jewel of the Philippines) was won by Camille Jessica Cunanan, a 17-year-old high school student of Secaucus, New Jersey, daughter of Alex G. and Carmencita L. Cunanan. Jessica is President of the National English Honor Society and Secretary of the National Honor Society. She excels in sports, being a four-time medalist in the Hudson County Swimming Championships.
The next title, Bituin ng Luzon (Star of Luzon) was taken by Allysson M. Prada, the born-in-New-York-City 21-year-old daughter of Didi and Edelberto Prada of Manhattan. She currently goes to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) taking a course in Advertising and Marketing. The title of Bituin ng Visayas (Star of the Visayas) was taken by Judith Ashley Quilapio, who was born in New York 19 years ago to Rebecca Quilapio, an immigrant from Tarlac, in the Philippines. Judith is currently employed while going to Baruch College. And the title Bituin ng Mindanao (Star of Mindanao) went to Kirsten Claire Fernandez, who at 16 years old is the youngest and the only one born in the Philippines of all six 2013 Diwa ng Kalayaan candidates. Kirsten and her parents Ruth and Mark Alvarez make their residence in Tenafly, New Jersey where she goes to Tenafly High School.
The judging took place Friday, May 3 at the Diwa ng Kalayaan Selection and Coronation Pageant and Gala held at the Grand Ballroom of the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Newark at 128 Frontage Road, Newark, New Jersey 07114-3721.
PIDCI’s 2013 Diwa ng Kalayaan Entourage (Top Left to Right): Kristine Liwag, 2013 Diwa Ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence); Riana Aldana (Miss Filipino American); C. Jessica Cunanan, Hiyas ng Pilipinas (Jewel of the Philippines); (Bottom Left to Right) Allysson Prada, Bituin ng Luzon (Star of Luzon); Judith Ashley Quilapio, Bituin ng Visayas (Star of Visayas); and K. Claire Fernandez, Bituin ng Mindanao (Star of Mindanao). (Photos by Butch Gata)