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THE ASIA PACIFIC GROUP OF THE UNITED NATIONS WOMEN’S GUILD REMEMBERS THE TYPHOON HAIYAN VICTIMS

The sun was out. It was a perfect fun-filled family fund-raising day! On Saturday, May 10, 2014 the easy to reach Casa Generalizia of the Society of the Divine Word was transformed: tables selling colorful Indonesian batik cloths, Philippine hand woven textiles, Indian prints, and other goods and trinkets were lined under the shade of trees. A special table was set with donations from members with beautiful Linda Oricchio under a pink umbrella manning the booth. Signs for finger food, drinks, desserts were put up, and along the Casa’s long corridors were lunch tables with an array of color and aroma. For a donation of 15 euros one was able to enjoy a full set lunch with a choice from the following 3 menus: Philippines, South Asia, or Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. 
 
Under the leadership of APG President Winy Amato, Vice-President Susheela Rodrigues and treasurer Takako Fujinami, the entire APG moved towards organizing the event. Maris Gavino was overall coordinator for the Philippines, as well as the Philippine food table with Noelle Rodriguez. The East/Southeast Asian and Pacific Food table with all its 9 dishes on one tray organized by Cathy Sulis, while Poonam Juneja organized the South Asian table. The Book club and Walking tour group handled dessert and coffee with Janet Lauderdale, Greta Colpaert, and Mary Cordis in charge.

 
And, adding to the festivities a program of dances and songs were performed. Zita Kuemlangan, in charge of the cultural show brought together a wonderful collage of Asian sound, color and movement. With her daughter Ashalynn helping out with the music flow it was a spectacle.
 
Robert Magbata Jacinto grabbed people’s attention with a powerful voice singing “Feeling Good.”  He was followed by the delightful Indian dance by Priti.
 
The show was stolen after by Kindergarten children of the Japanese school of Rome who sang Koinobori which means “Carp Streamer”.
 
The 5th of May is Boys’ Day. The song was written about one hundred years ago wishing boys to grow healthy and strong like carps that can swim upstream against the current.  All over Japan one sees these carp streamers flying in the sky from the end of April to the 5th of May to celebrate the festivity.
These adorable children also danced the Doraemon Ondo which has become a popular Bon-odori.  Bon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. It has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to their homeland.  The festival of Bon is around the 15th of August and the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars during that period.  It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance known as Bon-Odori.
 
The striking colors of the Bangladeshi dancers would still leave the audience in a daze with their grace and elegant movements. Two dances were performed. The first dance was to welcome the New Year. The Bengali New Year is a great event celebrated widely with a lot of merriment. Cultural programs and events are organized in open air and private venues where one can enjoy traditional dances, songs and poetry, and partake of delicious traditional food. 
 
The next performance was a Harvest Dance. Harvest season is a time of rejoicing as food security is assured. So they celebrate with singing and dancing as rice is brought to their homes.
 
Then came the Pinoy Teens, a group of young Filipino residents here in Rome with a common interest in music and dance. The Group entertained us with 3 songs and 2 traditional Philippine folk dances.
 
The first was an Italian song , Ti darò di più sung by Gabrielle Sarmiento,followed by a dance entitled Binislakan which comes from the northern part of the Philippines and portrays the Chinese influence in Philippine culture. Bislak means “chopsticks” in the Pilipino language. The dancers were Marika, Keile, Erika, Megane, Gabrielle, Daryl, Kim and Josh.
 
The Tagalog Song Pinoy Ako (I am a Filipino) was sung by Daryl Estabillo and Megan Brosas. Pinoy is the colloquial term for Filipino. He sings of his pride in being one, showing the world the values of a true Filipino.
 
A popular folk dance is the Tinikling. It is a dance imitating the movements of the bird called tikling trying to escape the bird trap that farmers put in the rice fields to protect the grains from being eaten or destroyed. Swift dancers were Erika, Marika, Kim and Daryl while the bamboo clickers were Gabrielle and Josh The bar holders were Megan and Keile.
 
And finally Ang Bayan Ko (My Homeland) was sung by Keile Soriano, Gabrielle Sarmiento and Melisse Abucay. This song talks about how Filipinos fought for freedom against those who have come to try to conquer them.
 
And the finale of the program was Sajojo, an Indonesian dance.The lyrics of the song in this dance tell the story of a pretty girl idolized by youngsters in the village. It originated from Papua, the largest island located in the eastern region of Indonesia. This dance is a kind of social folk dance that is also performed to greet and welcome guests. 
Raffle tickets were sold with the help of  Zeruela and Pihla Pekkarinenby with prizes from top restaurants! 
Marie Luarca-Reyes, on behalf of Ambassador Virgilio Reyes, thanked the organizers who once again remembered to help those that were seriously affected by typhoon Haiyan.  She also thanked the guests who came to support the noble project of the ladies of the Asia and Pacific Group.
 
The Asia Pacific Group of UNWG identified the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in the Philippines to help those affected through the project: Bancas for the Philippines.“This project aims to bring fiberglass boat technology to the Philippine communities affected by Haiyan, while reducing the use of sawn timber and plywood.  Anchored on the supply of training, molds and boat materials, all boats will be built on site by the fishermen themselves.
With Philippine seas also heavily exploited by commercial fishing, the project seeks to avoid increasing fishing pressure by sharing climate-smart technologies to small scale, sustenance fishermen whose boats rely on paddle or sail power.
We face a climate-defined future. By providing one platform through which small scale fishermen can redefine their lives, we hope to build local resilience, and take the country one step closer to preparing for the rough seas that lie ahead.” (WWF) (by: Noelle Rodriguez and Maris Gavino – photos by: Stefano Romano)
 

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Camille Joanne Manalo, ang Miss Mundialido Philippines 2014