Twenty-eight more days and Filipinos in the Southland will commemorate the 113th Philippine Independence Day with a grand ball at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, 333 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, Calif. Hosted by the 2011 Kalayaan Executive Council, the community celebration on June 11th is with the cooperation of the Philippine Consulate General, the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center.
This year is the sesquicentennial anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal and in honor of his 150th birthday anniversary, the Kalayaan theme is: Rizal, Haligi ng Bayan (Rizal: Pillar of the Nation).


“Everyone is welcome,” reminds grand chair Leo A. Maranan, President Emeritus of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, San Fernando Valley (FACCSFV), during a meeting of the 2011 Kalayaan Executive Council at the FACCSFV headquarters in Van Nuys. The FACCSFV is this year’s event chair headed by Executive Director Joe Arciaga and President Rodel Lumanog.
Attendees at the meeting included Naomi P. Armada, Chito Mandap, Gil Mislang, Noel Omega, Dr. Lito Babaran, Bing dela Vega, Tetchie Quiatchon, Atty. Antero Pagunsan, Willie Manacsa, Lydia Soriano, and Lydia V. Solis. Nominated by Mrs. Armada, Solis is a replacement for Bobby Reyes who had resigned from the Council.
In charge of entertainment is Ted Benito of TDRZ Productions, Inc. Benito had his start of musical theatre when he auditioned for one of the children in the Los Angeles production of The King and I. After playing Mr. Bratt in a high school production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, he hung up his Broadway ambition. Instead, he sang every standard karaoke song imaginable. He then began producing musical/theatrical events while at UCLA and later for the Filipino community in Los Angeles.
Benito has announced that emcees at our Kalayaan gala are Becca Godinez, “gifted with an unbelievably powerful voice,” and Bernardo Bernardo, stand-up comedian, singer, and theater actor who said he “felt like a bangus fingerling in a humongous ocean” when he immigrated to the United States.
Dr. Jose Rizal’s great grandniece has been invited!
“I’m so happy,” Benito e-mailed, “I literally just got off a phone call with Patti Laurel. She wanted me to convey her appreciation for inviting her to the Kalayaan, and pending her availability and airplane fare, will be honored to join us on June 11 as we celebrate her great, grand uncle’s sesquicentennial.”
Patricia Magdalena Laurel is the daughter of Marita (Banaad) and Roberto Archimedes Laurel and is first cousins with Gemma Cruz Araneta. She’s also related to Vicky Garchitorena, President of Ayala Foundation. Born and raised in San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines, she lived in Germany, Alaska and the United States but returned to the Philippines to continue her writing.
“My great grandmother, Maria, was the sister of Jose Rizal,” he told Benito.
About to publish her second book, Laurel is a published author, freelance writer and editor of online magazine Art in Site (
Benito has more surprises including participation of AngLahi-USA, a Filipino American movement that “strives to establish an IDENTITY as a Filipino race outside of the Philippines, aims to uplift the IMAGE of Filipinos who are in and out of the country, dreams to be a strong INFLUENCE to help other races, and aspires to be an INSPIRATION for other races to lift up their own race.”
There will be guest appearances of Filipino tenor Rodel Rosel, singer/dancer/actress/host Antoinette Taus, and former Tawag ng Tanghalan champion Vangie Crowther, who is also an FACCSFV member.
Maranan will soon make the announcement as to Kalayaan’s keynote speaker, but Congressman Hermilando I. Mandanas, Batangas 2nd District Representative, has already confirmed his attendance.