In the early morning of a cloudy Saturday, 19th May 2012, the participants of the Philippine Faire 2012 and the Festival of Festivals Parade trickle in front of Mar Vista Middle School - staging area for the parade. The Council of Philippine American Organizations of San Diego County, Inc. (COPAO) organized this event celebrating Filipino-American History & Culture and the 114th Anniversary of Philippine Independence, with the theme: “Connecting, Sharing and Preserving Our Cultural Heritage”, with the active participation of the Council for Teaching Filipino Language and Culture (CTFLC) headed by its President, Rosalina V. Idos.
Later, the assembly area is filled with students and teachers in their festive and colorful costumes and props. CTFLC participants wore their Filipiniana attire. Rancho Del Rey students, under Ms. Jeanette Fiorica, show their black and yellow Ati-atihan costume while the Pintados of Montgomery High School, under Ms. Salvacion de Vera, display their body arts simulating tattoos. In addition, Paradise Hills Elementary School, under Ms. Margarita Idos, and Morse High School students, under Ms. Julita Biares & Ms. Gloria Guilas, conceal their faces with colorful masks for the Masskara Festival. Eastlake High School students, under Ms. Corazon Simpson, parade glamorous and ostentatious gowns and barongs for their Santacruzan under the colorful flower arches. Under the shade of their colorful umbrella, the Sweetwater High School students, under Ms. Blancaflor Villanueva, uphold the Obando Rites Festival of Kasilonawan. Moreover, Otay Ranch High School students, under Ms. Rizalyn Cruz, clothe themselves in blue pants, red shirts, and yellow sashes. Students from Southwest High School, under Mr. Romando Reyes, wear white laced casual dresses and carry baskets filled with flowers for Flores de Mayo. For the Pahiyas Festival, Challenger Middle School students, under Ms. Myrna Ablana, carry bilao, a large bamboo tray, filled with fresh vegetables; some of them wear balintawak consisting of blouse with pañuelo and skirt. There’s also the famous bahay-kubo, a hut made of bamboo, from Mar Vista Middle School under Ms. Marilin Escalante. Olympian High School students, under Ms. Grace Almazar, carry a wide array of parol, a star, mounted in a float symbolizing a guiding light when the three magi searched for the infant Jesus Christ, for the Parol Festival. Finally, Bell Middle School, under Ms. Jacquilin Magat, explodes in different color for their Sinulog Festival. They garb themselves in different costumes. In the middle, a student carries the image of Sto. Niño. Surrounding her, students wear traditional costumes in shimmering bright blue, yellow, pink, and red; some wear Hawaiian skirt. Gradually, the sun peeps behind the clouds; the colors explode and glow.
At about 9:30, the parade starts with all the different schools’ festivals and dignitaries. Sweetwater High School Band and Granger Junior High School Band lead the way as the participants march toward Robert Egger Sr. South Bay Recreation Center. As they approach the stand, Mr. Lee Romero, Principal of Southwest High School and Ms. Mary Rose Peralta, Granger Junior High School Principal, introduce each marching group. Philippine Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon and Councilmember David Alvarez, 8th Council District, City of San Diego were the Grand Marshalls.
At the park, COPAO hosts the Opening Ceremonies entertaining the crowd with different performances, with Mr. Salvador & Mrs. Rosalina Idos, as emcees. In the beginning, various dignitaries give a short inspiring speech, with Ms. Merly Ferrer, COPAO President rendering the Welcome Remarks, followed by Presentation of Proclamations and Greetings from elected officials, including Ms. Arlie Ricasa, Sweetwater District Board Member. Initially, Granger Junior Band and Sweetwater High School present musical pieces. Challenger Middle School participants serenade the crowd with their own interpretation of the famous Bahay-kubo song. The Olympians present a Christmas Carol singing Pasko na Naman. The Bell Middle School students wow the crowd with their Sinulog dance presentation. Finally, the Otay Ranch and Eastlake High School students combine forces to give the grand finale presentation by singing Tara Na, Biyahe Tayo ending the morning activity.
The afternoon celebration include the Presentation/Promenade of COPAO’s Ambassadors of Goodwill 2012, with Mrs. Corazon Idos as the Mrs. Philippine Faire; a Royal Entertainment, with a Harana rendered by the brothers Nario & Salvador Idos, followed by the Promotional Appearance/Performance of U.P. Concert Chorus. The final segment of the celebration had the Performing Arts Showcase and GMA Pinoy TV & GMA Life TV Variety Show c/o Jush Andowitt and starring Rhian Ramos and Aljur Abrenica.