By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Jet-lagged Lito Pernia, president of the Philippine American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM), made a special effort to attend the victory party of champion contingent CEBU on July 8, Sunday in Elmhurst. He just arrived from Manila but wanted to bring the good cheer and apology that CEBU actually won four, and not three awards in the 28th commemoration of the Philippine-American friendship last June 24 in Jersey City.
“Sorry about the inadvertent error. We failed to give you the 4th award that day,” he said in his speech, which to many was zestfully a bit reminiscent of how Miss Universe host Steve Harvey goofed during the 2015 pageant where Ms. Universe Philippines Pia Wurtzbach had won. With Pernia giving the fourth award as ‘Best Performing Group’ was Gani Puertollano, overall chair of the PAFCOM festivities for 2018. On an already fun early afternoon at the social hall of the Ascension Church, the CEBU dancers thus doubled their glee.
Dancing to the theme of Sinulog, CEBU won as the most symbolic group, most attended, best in costume, and additionally, best performing group during the June 24 parade in Jersey City. Kudos goes to the concept and costume design of Axel Albao who is based in Cebu, and choreographers Shiran Ybanez, Gay Albao, and Helen Kwong.
At the party, organized joy had been created through games and the usual line dancing that Filipinos so love, with the participation of children and adults. Atty. Dulce Barangan, president of the Ilocano association here, proved to be the most upbeat and graceful dancer, winning a rather difficult jiggly wire dance with her husband.
Lead choreographer Shiran Ybanez said that the quality of dedicated members of CEBU Inc. makes it unique and a winning kind of organization. “Our members are willing to make a difference in the community by sharing their time and talent,” Ybanez remarked.
Organized in 2012, CEBU is considered to be among the more cohesive groups in the Fil-am community here. They have performed and won thrice as best contingent in the PIDCI-led Independence Day commemoration in New York and have guested in Philippine events in Boston and Philadelphia as well.