NEW YORK (Apr 21) — Seven young Filipinas are in for the final selection of the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) search, one of the major programs of this year’s commemoration of the 111th anniversary of the Philippine Independence.
Three candidates are from New York; namely: Demellen Faith Cuerda, Janette Gomez and Loriella Reyes. Those from New Jersey are Natasha Abella, Renee Nicole Lago and Alexandra Uy; and, from Pennsylvania, Monica Castillo Meares.
These seven Diwa ng Kalayaan aspirants have been rehearsing for several weeks in time for the selection and crowning of the title holder on April 26, 2009 at a pageant and gala event to be held at the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Newark Airport Hotel at 128 Frontage Road in Newark, New Jersey. The event will start at 5:30 p.m. and scheduled to end by 11:00 p.m.
This annual search, which made its debut in 1991, has been one of the mainstay programs of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI). Since its inception, it has risen to be the top beauty, brains and talent contest in the Filipino and Filipino American community in the metropolitan New York area where the title holder reigns during the months-long commemoration of Philippine Independence.
The Diwa ng Kalayaan title holder is selected by a board of judges appointed by PIDCI. Candidates are between the ages of 16 to 21, of Filipino descent, single (never have been married), of good moral character, at least 5’2″ tall, charming, witty, talented and personable.
Erika May Pineda, who hails from New Jersey, earned last year’s coveted title and a round trip airline ticket to the Philippines. She joined the Ambassadors/Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour to the Philippines organized annually by the Philippine Department of Tourism representing PIDCI and the northeast USA’s Filipno community as their “Ambassador of Goodwill.” One of the crowning glories of her reign was when she graced her own float at the Philippine Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. In addition, she was also presented during the Philippine Independence Ball after the parade was held.
As in past years, this year’s title recipient will also receive a round trip airline ticket to the Philippines and possibly take her prize as part of the 2009 Ambassadors/Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour to the Philippines. She would also be in the parade on her own float.
Joji Jalandoni, a board member of PIDCI, is this year’s chairperson of the Diwa ng Kalayaan Pageant and Gala Committee.