By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City — Dancesport champ and darling Jessa Mae Briones dazzled in her gold, fuschia, and red gown as she led the Sinulog together with 50 dancers of the Cebu contingent. They gracefully danced through Madison Avenue, sending spectators approvingly cheerful, on the sunny first Sunday of June in celebration of the Philippine freedom day here.
The roaring crowd thought they will win. And they did. Cebu Sinulog was recently announced Grand Champion of the Marchers category on the 117th Philippine Independence Day celebration.
The costume was a creation of the artistic flair of Axel Albao who lives in the northern town of Sogod in Cebu province. He works in a local hospital and was elated when his sister, Gay Blanca, called earlier about the good news. Gay Blanca was one of the dancers and leaders of the group.
“We practiced since first week of May,” she said.
The upbeat choreography by Christopher Corro and expressive execution proved to be the contingent’s winning elements too. Corro, who is also a dancesport champion since his younger days in Cebu, motivates the dancers by telling them to dance from heart. “I treat everyone fairly. But I am strict in a nice way. Punctuality is important during rehearsals,” he said.
The Philippine Independence Day celebration is organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council and the largest gathering of Filipinos in the US and outside the Philippines. It has become a tradition among immigrants here, to prepare a cultural presentation or join or watch the parade, or simply get together at the Madison Park for some Filipino food.
“Once a year, it feels festive here. It feels like home,” says Leani Auxilio, OSM! digital editor, who enjoys her time with friends. (Photos by YetBoLoveRita)