Tanglaw Newsletter



By Jose Feliciano

When Tony Mateo persuaded me to come out of hibernation last November 25th to attend the annual Philippine Night celebrations, images of past events immediately flashed back in my mind . . . beautiful women "dressed to kill" in their "Mestiza" dresses, "Balintawaks" and "Maria Clara" gowns complemented by their escorts in various "Barongs"; a parade to choose the winner of the best costume contest; and Philippine cuisine from the likes of "Dinuguan" to a main course of "Lechon", with other native delicacies I haven't had for a long time served in between, while "Sa Kabukiran" music plays in the background! But that was then and this is now, the "New Millenium", I thought. As it went, the native costumes were there and the "Bahay Kubo", replete with a lit "Parol" hanging on the window, and the "Puno ng Saging at Puno ng Buko" made me choke with emotion as the set up brought back memories of my Shangrila. If only the food was "kare-kare" and not the catered grilled chicken, my night would have been complete.

When the soon to be crowned Miss PAMAS 2000, Jennifer Kalb, walked in with FAGB's Miss Philippines - New England, Greia "Gigi" Amarra, escorted by the dashing Austria brothers, Oliver and R. J.., Jenn's glowing appearance grabbed my attention away from the vodka and tonic I was nursing, and not too many things can make me do that! She was absolutely beautiful and she looked so regal. As the video lights shone on her virginal face amidst the clicking of a million cameras all around, the first thing that came to my mind was the realization that the "ugly duckling" from the PAMAS cultural variety shows of years past has blossomed into the beautiful and majestic swan of lore! Jenn, of course is the lovely daughter of Jeff and Amanda Kalb of Duxbury, MA. She's now a junior at the Assumption College in Worcester, pursuing a degree in Education, majoring in Spanish. Amanda must have been in her glory as the Miss Philippines - New England delicately placed the crown on her daughter Jenn's head. Naturally, as Filipino traditions go, no crowning of the "Reyna" would be complete without the eloquence of a "Makata". Enter Felix Atienza, our resident poet extraordinaire, directly from Maine and formerly from the "Balagtasan" circuit of Batangas and beyond. Only god knows how many times and many ways he told the audience how beautiful Jennifer was, in words you and I could never hope to imagine, but all well-deserved and appropriate to describe the reigning Miss PAMAS 2000. As one American lady told me, "I can't understand a word he's saying, but he sure sounds good!"

I was fortunate enough to have been seated with Ray and Emily Viola along with Norman and Ellenette Park, Nettie Jacildo, Rick and Jojie Warrick, Henry Mirando and a gorgeous blonde named Debbie Cole. We were later joined by a lovely "Cabalen", Susan Bautista, who danced so gracefully I was singing Inamorata! I was waiting to be entertained by the traditional folk dances like "Tinikling", but lo and behold, I was treated instead to a beautifully choreographed medley of dances which started and ended with the Spanish "Jota", but blended with the Latin "Todo-Todo" and "La Cumbia". Appropriately enough, it was called "PAMAS Variado de Bailes", arranged by the PAMAS choreographer, Amanda Kalb. Soon, led by the PAMAS officers themselves, line dancers filled the floor to the tune of "Mambo #5"!

On the lighter side of the evening, there were several winners of the donated raffle prizes, like Nepo Amo Yen Vo and Tina Ward, but nothing big compared to the one won by Ben Manzano - a big basketful of goodies donated by the Shuttle Stop Carinderia.! I was trying to buy just the basket 'cause it was big enough for my laundry, but no dice! One thing I always look forward to during these annual nationalistic happenings is the chance to see old friends again, who don't seem to go out socially much anymore but shows up during Philippine Nights. This evening, I ran onto old fossils, Dave Aguilo and Fil Servino, while I saw another Albatross from the Coast Guard, Andy Tiongson, waving across the room.

Believe it or not, Philippine Night was one of my pet project in the organization. I pushed for it to lure back the local Pinoys who have gone astray, mesmerized and brainwashed by the gyrating Hula dancers in their grass skirts, into holding an annual Hawaiian Night. I thought, why would any sentimental, red-blooded Pinoy disregard his or her heritage and embrace that of the Hawaiians. Thus, Philippine Night was born, as the organization chose it to be the motif for the annual PAMAS anniversary celebrations. Now, we have 2 evenings a year of tropical fun and frolic to enjoy - the Hawaiian Night and the Philippine Night.

An inescapable reality is beginning to unfold within the organization right before our eyes, and that is, the siblings of PAMAS families who formed the organization some twenty-two years ago, have now come of age and ready to assume responsibilities to becoming respectable community leaders themselves. It is their turn to find ways and means to perpetuate and preserve their Filipino heritage despite the influence of modern living, peer pressure and even generation gaps! A task, I dare say, of the same magnitude or greater than that faced by their mothers and fathers during the formative years of PAMAS. "Here's looking at you, kids!"

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