15,000 flock to Mabuhay fest

Community Round Up Aug 1, 2008 at 10:53 pm

A record breaker of over 15,000 festive goers packed the Metro Toronto Convention Centre last July 19, 2008 to celebrate the Best of Philippine Arts, Culture, Trade Show and Charity. There were more than 230 exhibitors and with special participation and gratitude of the major sponsors, this event was a success and the very best ever among the PIDC Mabuhay Summer Festivals.

From the moment everyone set their foot on the 100,000 square feet of Festivities, they marvelled at the immensity of the hall, they were captured immediately by the 140-foot colourful banderitas hovering around the hall. The place was transformed into one huge Town Plaza celebrating its Fiesta. With all the booths and vendors, showing up their wares, “parang palengke” quipped Lydia Perdon who drove from Hamilton just to see the spectacle. “Our family has been going to the Mabuhay Festival for the past three years; I think this is the best” Lydia added.

People were in awe at the big hall that was so busy with activities; if you set your course to the left you can hear the children screaming with delight and excitement as they played along the 50 foot obstacle course, the 15 foot slide and the ever favourite bouncy castle. Clowns were on hand too, showing their funny antics. Face painting on one side, kids’ shows on the other. But it was not all about fun and games, the booth of the Toronto Catholic School Board was on hand to guide parents on what to do in the upcoming school year. The whole side was aptly called the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario Kids and Sports Zone because of the activities involved. While children were playing, Ping Pong enthusiasts from around North America were battling it out on who will be the Mabuhay Cup Table Tennis Tournament Champion.

Roberto Amante from New Jersey and his family were much confused on where to go; the GK House Replica was much too beautiful to miss. His wife wanted to go shopping; their kids want to see the Kidz Zone, his mother in-law just wanted to watch the shows… They finally ended up going to the food court where they feasted on the different cuisines offered by more than a dozen food stalls serving our favourite Filipino dishes, like Palabok, barbecue, halo halo ..yumm sarap!

For the second time in the Festival’s history an ANCOP GK house replica was displayed to symbolize the houses that PIDC will build in the PIDC-Toronto GK Village for the poor and the needy in the Philippines. As the President of PIDC Jun Enverga declared, “Supporting PIDC projects like the Mabuhay Festival will not only allow us to celebrate our Arts and Culture but we will also help our poor Kababayan!”.

One of the favourite parts of the festival was the Luz-Vi-Min cultural display anchored by Mindanao with a life-sized Vinta, with its sail up high, proudly flaunting its colours, there must have been thousands of pictures captured on this location alone.

As people settled down around the stage, revellers can only marvel at the huge Philippine flag, the largest of its kind in Canada. Just the sight of the flag will elicit the sense of patriotism and the yearning to go back to the Philippines. Minda Neri, the Chair for the festival explained, “We want the Mabuhay Festival to be a lifelong experience for everyone, most especially those who wanted to experience the Best of Philippine Arts and Culture all in one day with emphasis on community involvement and charity.”

With Estring Aguinaldo of Fiesta Filipina at the artistic helm of the festival programming, it was no surprise that people were mesmerized every time a show production was performed. “It is a symphony of performances!” exclaimed by email from Rhodora Belmonte, a native of Detroit, “Bravo, Bravo to you guys”.

The day started with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist celebrated by Msgr. Juano, Father Carlos, Father Mar and Father Angel. “It is just fitting to celebrate mass in any Filipino Celebration because faith has mostly shaped our Culture” Rosemer Enverga explained. To complete the blessing of the festival and the festival goers, a special prayer by the famed Healing Priest Father Fernando Suarez was broadcast in the two 20 square foot screens in front of the stage.
The whole show was complimented by our local TV Stars, Pauline Chan of CTV, Melissa Grelo and Marianne Dimain of CityTV, Marivel Taruc of CBC TV, Brian Mangubat of Rogers TV, Gie Alvarez of Frontpage TV and Deo Moreno of Mabuhay Channel. Everyone was so starstrucked.

The programming started with “Pista sa Bayan: Balik Yabang” produced by Zena Zagala, choreographed by Kim Belen, The story of a balikbayan who found out that she is after all a Filipina all the way . Great story lines with exciting characters like “Erap, Vilma, Cory, Gloria and Mayor Lim…” This segment featured different organizations most notably two distinct home grown organization, the Philippine Advocacy Through Arts and Culture (PATAC) headed by Paulina Corpuz and Migrante. The day started with great excitement and fun.

“Pasikatan” the story about the old and the new, produced and directed by Sue Aguinaldo was a heart warming experience with the surprised featured artist, the world renowned Madam Eleanor Calbes as the Lola and Lurvie Debloise as the Nanay. This segment was a mixture of Ballroom, Folk and contemporary dance performances. The Dance Crew ala Jabbawockeez drew the crowd to their feet, dancing to the beat of RAP Music.

The next segment was “Amazing” according to Bob de la Pena from Pickering,” I have never realized that we have so much great young talents”. The “Voices of the Future/Mga Tinig Ng Kinabukasan” production by Livvy Camacho made everyone shiver, the exhilarating voices of the young singers Candace Santos, Roy Tugbang, Jasmine Elaine Ragual, Glenn Montera and Lia Luz made everyone gasp for air. The unforgettable performance by Elle Delizo, the Little Miss Philippines 2008, and the high-energy High Musical Dance of the full Little Miss Philippines court completed the segment

Santa Cruzan, the parade of regal beauties headed by the Miss, Little Miss and Mrs. Philippines pageants was a sight to behold along with all the winners of other pageants were on hand to grace the grandest Santa Cruzan of them all. This was the time when everyone milled across the hall as the beautiful ladies with their beautiful ternos and gown strut, a parade of royal beauties indeed. The festival was graced by the fashion show by no other than the couturier extraordinaire, Lito Dizon.

Pauline Chan from CTV, the master of ceremonies introduced Je-ann Salas, a world renowned ballet dancer and a member of the National Ballet of Canada’s Corps de Ballet. The crowd was captivated with the performance of Je-ann, a true representation of the elegance, grace and sophistication of a Filipino talent.

It was the Jenifer show that followed the evening performance, “what a great choreography!” was all Belinda (from Mississauga) can say, the segment was choreographed by the Dorotheo Dance Company. What will a Mabuhay Festival be without the premier dance company “Fiesta Filipina and Culture Philippines” performing. The dance companies completed the Fiesta Atmosphere in the hall. In their colourful and extravagant costumes they executed a dance choreography that brought out the patriotic passion of the crowd most especially with the special presentation of the “Bayani” segment, almost everyone was glued and some teary eyed as they performed “Bayan Ko” in a backdrop of a huge Philippine Flag.

Lilac Caña and Emil Zarris followed with the rendition of various classical songs, the combination of their talents just brought out the passion out of everyone. “I am in Love again!” as Shiela Rivera from Whitby declared.

As the climax begins to unfold, the PIDC officers were introduced one by one to the great applause of the audience. The applause could only mean a great appreciation by everyone to the PIDC officers and volunteers who made the event a great success.

The same night, PIDC has once again shown its social consciousness and responsibility by announcing that Juana Tejada has been granted a permanent resident status, whereas just a month ago during the PIDC Independence Day Picnic the case was brought to the personal attention of Hon. Jason Kenney, the secretary of state for Multiculturalism. Kenney himself was on hand to confirm her status, a great day for Juana and a proud moment for the Filipino community.

The drum rolls………The Studio Six production of “Musika Ng Ating Bayan” headed by Josie de Leon began. Complete with a Jeepney, a Karaoke Bar and modest Philippine home. The show was a mixture of songs, drama and comedy .. a show that surely brought back memories to all the audience. “Great Entertainment”, “The Best”, “Well produced” are the comments of the audience who stood up and applauded , pleading for more…. But the best is yet to come.

AI-AI, AI-AI, AI-AI. AI-AI, AI-AI.! The multitude screamed while being prompted by emcee Deo Moreno. Then the star of the show appeared, pandemonium erupted as Ms. Ai Ai de las Alas appeared in a style only her fans can understand. But everyone was her fan; it was all fun and laughter as she performed her antics, her talent, and her super “bading” charisma. Whatever she does, whatever she says elicit rapturous laughter, thanks to the two twenty foot screens everyone was able to enjoy and experience Ai Ai. We love the Queen! screamed a fan on the far side of the seats… to the laughter of everyone.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end…