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APCO’s Freedom Day Ball in Lidcombe, NSW

freedom ball pics123a (320x214)freedom ball pics80 (320x250)Text and photos by Richard Ford.

Perhaps it was the night when you see the biggest number of men and ladies dressed in the best, smartest, classiest Filipiniana wear ever assembled in any one place here or in the Philippines! Is this because one of the signature activities of the Freedom Ball is the selection of the Best Filipiniana Terno and Barong of the Year worn in classical and modern styles?  Also notable is the presence of more than 100 guests from other cultural backgrounds, for total attendance of about 500 guests!

The night was introduced  a wide array of classical Kundiman songs by Marcus Rivera, Linda Trinidad, Brian Lorenz Babon and Angelo Refuerzo, accompanied on the guitar by Joven Estigoy.

Then the Programme officially started with the Australian National Anthem sung acapella by the 4-man Bernoulli Effect Quartet, followed by a rousing rendition of the Philippine National Anthem by Marcus Rivera, which was a fitting start to the very emotion-stirring “Lupang Hinirang Tableau” themed on the Philippine Revolution and the Death of Rizal acted out by the members of APCO Inc.

The emcees for the night were beauteous Katrina Yu from SBS World News and the very reliable Charles Chan from Radio Rizal, who did a truly splendid job. Ms Katrina commented that she enjoyed the night and would be happy to be emcee again if asked for next year’s Freedom Ball!

The honoured guests for the night included the Parliamentary Secretary of Multicultural Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon. Senator Matt Thistlethwaite who also represented Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Kate Lundy; Co-chair of the Filipino Ministerial Committee, the Hon. Kevin Conolly MP who represented Premier Barry O’Farrell, Member for Werriwa, Laurie Ferguson, Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes and his lovely wife, Bernadette, Greg Donnelly, MLC who represented the Leader of NSW Opposition, John Robertson, Co-chair of the Filipino Ministerial Consultative Committee and Member for Campbelltown, the Hon. Bryan Doyle, Lord Mayor Ned Attie of Auburn, Councillor Jess Diaz of Blacktown City Council, Philippine Consul Marford Angeles, Ms Sharon Davson, high-selling Australian artist and magistrate Doug Myres and his lovely wife, Lydia.

The musical entertainment was provided by singers Linda Trinidad of APCO Inc., Marcus Rivera, Melanie Balagtas, Ma Paz Barcenas, Sydney Perez, Brian Lorenz, Angelo Refuerzo, the Bernoulli Effect Quartet and Albert Prias who was also the overall Program Director. Other entertainment came in the form of a Magic Show provided by Jonas Jost, sexy and very versatile young dancers Rica and Sabrina, ballroom dancers Rudy and Maria Reyes and the Mindanao Ethnic Dance Group, Maharlika Inc and the VIP Dancers.

They were all such dazzling performances by so many Filipino talents within APCO Inc. that one cannot help but be so overwhelmed to just only sit back and to take it all in. The constant comments from the guests including the VIPs all evening have been “how amazing the performances were” and “how extraordinarily talented Filipinos are”!

One of the many highlights of the night was the unveiling of the Andres Bonifacio Commemorative Painting of Daisy Cummings by Federal Senator Matt Thistlethwaite, APCO Founding Pres. Dr. Cen Amores, Consul Marford Angeles and the current APCO Pres. Jhun Salazar and assisted by Daisy, the current president of Plaza Filipino Inc. This year being the 150th birth anniversary of the “Father of Philippine Revolution”.

Another highlight of the evening was the launch of the coffee table book of Michelle Baltazar titled “Love, Manila”. This is a collection of photos and essays made by the talented young author in her 10 days trip around Philippines’ capital metropolis. Like the 2013 Freedom Ball which has for its theme “Ibahagi ang mga Biyaya ng Kalayaan” (Share the Benefits of Freedom), the book is a great promotion of the Philippines and its people.

The Maynilad Band splendidly provided danceable music to the delight of everyone who danced the rest of the night away. There were lots of cakes and red and white wine provided by APCO and bottomless soft drinks augmenting the 3-course meal of beef and chicken served for dinner. After the Ball so many commented that they will be back again next year and they will surely bring their families and friends to the Ball!