The Bayanihan Spirit

By: Becky Pagsibingan

kutitap1The Philippine Embassy Booth, for the second consecutive year, won first place and was awarded “The Best Overall Award” during the Asian Festival held at the Reston Park on August 1 & 2, 2009. The Embassy of the Philippines and the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. (PAFC) once again partnered together and worked collectively to produce a most comprehensive booth, besting other Asian Embassy booths that were invited to participate in the yearly festival. Last year, the featured Embassy was China, this year was India and next year will be the Philippines.

The composition of the group that worked in this event together complimented each other with unselfish dedication without any fanfare, manifesting the real sense of volunteerism and the true meaning of “Bayanihan Spirit.” This was my close and nearsighted observation during the frenzied moments of putting up the tent and organizing the items to be exhibited together the artistic way. This group just worked not mindful of the length of time they had been working, lending their precious time and energy, away from the family. In fact, there were many other community projects and events that they did and were involved in that were not anymore published for recognition.

The Philippine Embassy booth proudly hung the Philippine flag outside the tent which was artfully designed by Presy Guevara, projecting sharply the shape and vivid yellow color of the sun and stars. The blazing sight surely did not go unnoticed. The Philippine items exhibited inside the booth were carefully selected to showcase our culture and heritage. They were quality items that educated the visitors about our country with books laid out around for them to read and compliment the items that they’ve just scrutinized. Cameras of the visitors flashed inside and outside the booth even asking the guides attired in Philippine costumes to pose with them. Vice Consul Robert Borje played an important role coordinating with the event’s organizers, the PAFC and other community leaders involved.

The exhibit was one part of the presentation. The other part which the judges witnessed and considered for scoring was the cultural presentation through a showcase of Philippine costumes, dances and music. I took charge of this part. There was the “Harana” in which Philippine “kundiman’ songs were aired. Then, a group of invited volunteers modeled colorful Philippine costumes like the Muslim, “Kimona at Saya, Barong Tagalog, Terno and Maria Clara.” They posed one by one or by couples on a platform mannequin-like. Cameras kept on clicking and some onlookers shyly asked to pose with the models. There were four children who participated wearing beautiful Terno and Barong Tagalog.

They were so cute (the Quion and Manaloto children- Katherine, Patrick, Mavis and Marc). Right after the show of costumes, was the dance presentation of “Sayaw sa Bangko” (dance on the bench) and the “Tinikling.” Yvonne Horneffer headed the Bicol Association with their Harana group, a couple of models and the wonderful folk dance performers. Quite a number people in the audience fell in line to try the “Tinikling” dance steps, hopping bravely in and out of the bamboo poles. One white American guy even tried it carrying his infant daughter with him. He was so enthusiastic that he did not have the chance to ask someone to hold his child temporarily while he tried the dance. He did a good job – excellent rhythm and dexterity. The child seemed to enjoy the bouncing movement. They got the loudest applause from the audience, of course. Other nationals dressed in their ethnic costume also tried the dance. Cameras kept on flashing as this activity progressed. At this point, I noticed the judges were watching before they went inside the booth. Someone alerted me of their presence.

Those who visited the Philippine Embassy booth and watched the cultural presentation had expressed their enjoyment but, equally important was the final verdict of the judges declaring it as the “Best Overall Winner.” The volunteers were jubilant. All their efforts were rewarded.
The “*Bayanihan Spirit” *was alive and proved strong.
Rose Villamor, wife of Ambassador Tony Villamor, current Consul General in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was in town for a personal visit. Many community leaders in Metro Washington, D.C. still remember Tony when he was the Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in early to mid-80’s. The busy schedule of Rose with her socials and her side trip to New York and San Francisco and my busy schedule with personal and community activities prevented us from seeing each other until her last day in Washington, DC which was also the day prior to my trip to Colorado to attend the Pagsibigan’s family reunion.
My friend from way back and I finally met for lunch and did a quick shopping at the Tyson’s Galleria. We tried to catch up with our family happenings, children, etc.. Tony was already retired but was requested by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to assume this diplomatic position in Saudi Arabia. Rose told me that even the diplomats’ wives had to wear the “abaya,” the long length black cloth which covers the head and down to the ankle when outside their official home. She revolves mostly with her circle of international diplomats wives. Her “unica hija,” Rosanna, followed the footstep of her father, now a Vice Consul and is at present in Cambodia with her husband, Stephan, a General Manager of Hyatt Hotel. They were in Singapore prior to this assignment. It is recalled that it was actually Rose who first established the Philippine Embassy’s cultural school which she and Tony opened to the Filipino American community children in Washington, DC.. She got me as a volunteer to teach Philippine Folk dances and Pilipino to these children. The rest is history. Up until now wherever Tony is assigned, Rose was resourceful enough to find someone to help her with her Philippine cultural program. In Manila, she taught Spanish at the International School. She invited me to visit her in Saudi Arabia before Tony’s term is up. Well, let’s see ….
Mrs. Henrietta Bustos, the mother of Dr. Elwin Bustos, current president of the Philippine Medical Association in Washington, D.C. recently passed away. After cremation, she was laid to rest at the Fairfax Memorial Park on August 1st , where families and friends had gathered to condole with the Bustos family. It is recalled that Dr. Bustos, his wife, Dr. Doris Bustos and daughter, Sabrina were active participants in the PAFC Philippine Independence Day Gala Ball dance presentation in June.

Community August Birthday Celebrants
Carissa Mirasol, daughter of Miriam and Jess Mirasol of Fairfax, VA on August 13.
Alma Conty of Annandale, VA, on August 18.
Bong David, formerly Director at IFC, on August 23.

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