KAHIUSA 17th Annual Fiesta in Honor of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
by Gerry Malixi
December 27. 2007
December 8, 2007 was a date to remember for a congenial group of expatriates hailing from Hilongos, Leyte. Not only was it the Feast of the Immaculate Conception but it also marked the 17th annual celebration of their town's fiesta in the United States. This multifaceted assemblage came together at the Palm Park, 12305 207th Street, Lakewood, CA for an afternoon of family fun and festive socializing.
The venue prominently displayed a mural donated by Dr. Eleanor Villaflor that depicted the town's Spanish era church. Against this backdrop, the fete commenced with mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Mike L. Alcuino, whose homily was both inspiring and contemplative. The harmonious sounds of the KAHIUSA choir provided a pleasant complement. The mass ended with an original Visayan hymn whose music and lyrics were by Romeo Mercado, a Hilongosnon.
After the mass, Fr. Mike Alcuino said a prayer over the tables groaning under the weight of an impressive array of enticing dishes. Everyone then partook of the feast which included quintessential fare such as lechon, embotido, lumpia shanghai and pancit bihon and many other savory treats. There was a slew of desserts - cassava cake, binangkal, leche flan and biko to name a few. A charming Pasalubong Corner was set up by Cheryl Agravante and Tessie Singco to the side comprising typical Leyte delicacies such as moron, cheese sticks, kalamay, torta and ampao. There was even puso brought all the way from home.
After the feasting, there was a program emceed by Ralph Grafe Villejo, the debonair son of the Treasurer of the KAHIUSA Hilongos Association. A video presentation of "Tribu Alicaraw of Hilongos" highlighted the occasion. Other video presentations included a "Doxology" and "Hilongos Overview" which enabled the guests to visualize the history of their hometown, past and present. A lyrical Hawaiian dance was performed by Britney Torion, followed by a group dance by the Ramacula Kids, a song number by Macrita Wertz and Jimmy Flores, Kuratsa dance by Ariel Ramacula and Macrita Wertz, and group dancing led by Katrina Flores & Company. Finally, there was a special 1-2-3 dance for unity recognizing the various groups coming from Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas, Temecula, and Riverside.
The event was capped by dancing to the sound of the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and the present. Dance instruction was provided first hand by 2 DI's who led the group in spirited line dancing, the cha cha and the boogie. All in all, a fine time was had by everybody.
This fiesta was a resounding success due in large part to the efforts of the Hermanos and Hermanas namely: Jun & Tessie Siongco, Cheryl Agravante, Menting & Jojo Flordelis, Betty Caldwell, Erwin & Glenda Tavera, Andy & Rose Ollero, Odette Aparente & Lauro Lorida, Charles Silva, William & Elizabeth Patterson, Oliver & Lolita Frank, Inocencia Smymiotis, Jesus & Celestina Gregorio, and Amador & Naomi Ampo. Major support was provided by the officers of the KAHIUSA organization: Ramon Fabular, President; Malou Lamberte, Vice President; Pilar Villejo, Treasurer; Jessie Fabular-Kimura, Secretary; and Tessie Villejo, Auditor, the prime movers and event organizers.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have the heartfelt thanks and appreciation of many, many Hilongosnons!