MANILA – Carrying the slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” a US-based Filipino dance troupe received a standing ovation during their performance at the halftime basketball game between the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC last March 23.
This was disclosed by Grace Divina Valera, co-executive director of the Washington-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), in an e-mail to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Tuesday.
The game was held to celebrate the 7th year of Filipino Heritage Night (FHN), organized by the Filipino-American Basketball Association (FABA) in Washington that is headed by Ken Mendoza.
In a statement, Mendoza said that “through the annual Heritage Night at (the) NBA Games, we can inspire the young generations that anything is possible if we put our mind into it, and that as Filipinos, we are proud of our heritage and culture.”
Valera said it was another successful "all tickets sold-out" day of showcasing Filipino heritage through the Philippines’ favorite sports -- basketball during the Wizards versus Miami Heat game of the National Basketball Association (NBA) at the Capital One Arena.
The affair was also designed “to bring the Filipinos and non-Filipinos closer together in this annual event where FABA players are given a chance to play in the prestigious NBA court, meet their favorite NBA stars up close, inspiring them to do better in basketball,” Valera added.
The national anthems of the United States and Philippines were sung by Filipino-Americans from New York City – the TOFA Artists and Performers led by Elton Lugay.
A total of 90 multi-awarded dancers from MHC and Richmond Filipino Class (RPC) from Central Virginia combined their talents during their dance performance that generated a standing ovation from some 20,000 basketball fans, Valera pointed out.
Waving the flags of the United States and the Philippines, they also carried a huge banner with the markings, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”. The performers danced to the music of “Piliin mo ang Pilipinas”.
Members of the Ilocano Society of America, Miss Teen Philippines-America beauty queens, Mabuhay Inc. members and the eskrimadores of the Pinakatay Eskrima also joined the dance number, choreographed by Dennis Michael Hona-Hansinger and Ludwig Osorio.
The dance showcase was initiated by Valera, a former attaché and cultural officer of the Philippine Embassy in Washington.
The musical dance number was also aimed at “encapsulating the diverse, vibrant and colorful cultures of the Philippines in one production number,” she said.
Maria Cielo Sinsioco of the Richmond Pilipino Class agreed to do the Southern Philippines/Muslim suite while the rest of the suites were done by MHC.
Both Valera and Sinsioco believed that showcasing the Philippines to the American mainstream is a great way to spread Philippine goodwill and promote the good image of the Philippines in the United States.
With the big banner of “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, the halftime showcase featured the Philippines’ diverse cultures of five cultural suites -- the Spanish/Maria Clara Suite, the Cordillera/Mountain Province Suite, the Southern Philippines/Muslim Suite, the Tribal and Ati-Atihan Suite; and the Rural/Barrio Fiesta Suite.
Valera also said that to the delight of the audience, “the two pride of the Philippines – world boxing champion Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao (Pacquiao look-alike Rudy Merc) and the Philippines’ Miss Universe (played by the 2011 Miss Teen Philippines-America title holder Chessa Taboada) -- joined in the halftime performance that was televised via the NBA channel and pay per view. (PNA)