Jan 5, 2010

The Rice Festival: An Event To Remember

By Fil-Am OBSERVER Staff
It was the best attended program held by Binhi At Ani at the Filipino Community Center in 2009.  The Rice Festival program of December 20 will be remembered by many people, many years to come.  People came and left because of other events going on somewhere.  However, there were more than 400 in attendance at peak time--and they largely stayed throughout the evening.

Significant features can be mentioned at random. 
*Binhi At Ani donated 1,900+ pounds of rice to the Maui Food Bank. Add to said amount, a bag of rice donated by Rev. and Mrs. Walter Baloaloa. 

*A variety of rice dishes or delicacies--ammarayen, arroz caldo, bibingka, pinaltaw, and about 20 others--were brought by guests, and shared with and enjoyed by all the guests. 

*Ten aging Sakadas led the ringing of the Centennial Bell, followed by their spouses and Sakadas' widows.  Ryan Sagayaga's son also rang the bell to honor his late Sakada grandparents.  Sen. Norman Sakamoto also rang the bell to pay tribute to the Sakadas and to send a message of peace and goodwill to all people. 

*Tony Ramil, general chairman of the event, sprinkled polished rice grains on the guests to wish them good health and prosperity. 

*Presented and recognized as 2009 Ama At Ina, Outstanding Father and
Mother, were Elpidio and Alejandra Cabalo, married 68 years, and accompanied by their children, Ben and Dominick Cabalo, and Lucy Peros, and their families.  Lucy Peros, the youngest of the three children, paid tribute to the parents. 

*Notable guests included former Gov. Ben Cayetano; U.S. Rep. Neil
Abercrombie; State Sen. Sakamoto; Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran; Maui County
Council Chair Danny Mateo, who was the principal speaker; former Mayor
Alan Arakawa and wife Ann; Council members Mike Molina and Mike Victorino; former Council members Rick Medina and John W. Enriques; and
retired Judge, now Univ. of Hawaii regent, Artemio Baxa.

*Lively folkdances were performed by Elsie Saribay's Bailes de Pilipinas, Lawrence Pascua's La Galeria, Madelyne Pascua's Dance International Production, Good Shepherd Church Troupe with Bessie Cacayorin and Alfredo Evangelista, Esq. as lead dancers, and Alice Ragasa's Senior Dancers.  The rice dance sequence --planting, harvesting, pounding, treshing and winnowing--and, of course, the tinikling, binasuhan and abaruray, were warmly received by the guests.

*Young and old took turns to present vocal renditions: Nana Rosa Bagoyo, Tata Quintin Casio, Ryan Sagayaga, Joy Fontanilla, and, not the least, young Jessica Adena, who was the first prize talent contest winner of the 2009 Barrio Fiesta. 

*Binhi At Ani president Norma Barroga and Board member Emmanuel Baltazar led the "kanyaw" community dance, joined in the later half of the dance by about 20 guests who were "conscripted" to participate by the lead dancers.
*Gracing the occasion were Celina Macadangdang Hayashi, Miss Hawaii Filipina; Dr. Cathy Long, Mrs Maui Filipina; Mia Livaudais, Miss Maui Filipina; and Victoria Cabalce Alakai, Miss Barrio Fiesta.

*For "surprise" door prizes, Teresita Noble of Noble Travel donated two roundtrip airfare tickets to the Philippines--Honolulu-Manila-Honolulu.  One was "won" by Lida Echalas of Kihei, and the other by Antonia Quinsaat of Paia.
*U.S. Rep. Abercrombie donated $500 in support of the event.  The donation augmented the sponsorships--kapatid, kapitbahay and kaibigan--earlier received by Binhi At Ani in support of the Rice Festival and the organization's other programs.

*Sen. Sakamoto presented a Certificate of Commendation from the State
Senate and Rep. Keith-Agaran presented another Certificate of Commendation from the State House of Representatives, to Binhi At Ani for the remarkable celebration, a "first" not only on Maui but the entire State of Hawaii.  Both certificates were graciously accepted by president Barroga.

*Many guests wore green, gold and white attires or had or were presented with green, gold and white leis.  Green, gold and white are the official colors of the Rice Festival.  Green, the color of the young rice plant, is for aliveness, well-being and over-all prosperity.

Gold, the color of the ripened and unpolished grains of rice, is for nobility of mind and heart.  White, the color of the polished grains of rice, is for integrity or purity.
To be sure, there was also the "dulang", a traditional low dining table, where former Gov. Cayetano, U.S. Rep. Abercrombie, Maui County Council Chair Mateo, and former Mayor Alan Arakawa sat at dinner with president Barroga.  There was a reserved seat for Mayor Charmaine Tavares at the "dulang"--and she was slated to address the gathering with an opening greeting, but she didn’t make it due to physical illness according to Deputy Finance Director Agnes Macadangdang Hayashi. She resourcefully stepped up for the mayor.  The "dulang" was constructed and donated by Ryan Sagayaga.
Good feeling--wonderful feeling--pervaded the BINHI AT ANI Filipino
Community Center throughout the evening of December 20.  What an event
to highlight Year 2009!

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