‘Queen of Kundiman’ Sylvia La Torre leads star-studded lineup on PH Day in NY
NEW YORK CITY — Organizers of the Philippine Independence Day Celebration, Inc. (PIDCI) are ramping up the nostalgia and patriotism by bringing the “Queen of Kundiman” Sylvia La Torre to headline this year’s line up of celebrity performers.
The veteran singer of “Waray-Waray” and “Sa Kabukiran,” a Philippine TV, radio and movie icon, is making a rare public appearance for the Big Apple’s Philippine freedom day festivities on June 7 onMadison Avenue.
She will be joined on stage by her granddaughter, Broadway performer and former Disney artist Anna Maria Perez de Tagle.
“PIDCI is very honored to have Ms. Sylvia La Torre, who is a living treasure, as our headliner,” PIDCI president Fe Martinez said. “This is an exceptional treat for all the US East Coast followers of Ms. La Torre and the kundiman, as well as the younger revelers who will be dazzled for the first time by the queen of the traditional Filipino love songs, a genre that dates back to the Spanish era.”
Now based in Los Angeles with husband Celso Perez de Tagle, La Torre is the first soprano to successfully cross over into mainstream pop culture in the Philippines. She co-hosted in the early 1960s the unbeatable noontime program “The Big Show” and later “Oras ng Ligaya,” and has appeared in a number of TV shows and films, including “Oh Sendang,” “Tang-Tarang-Tang” and “Yantok Mindoro.”
The star-studded New York City event, which draws tens of thousands of revelers every year, will also feature top balladeer Nonoy Zuniga (“Kumusta Ka,” “Never Ever Say Goodbye”), Pinoy folk rock superstar Florante (“Ako’y Isang Pinoy,” “Handog”), Original Pilipino Music chanteuse Jam Morales (“Even If,” “A Smile In Your Heart”), Fil-Am jazz artist Mon David, Fil-Am pop/R&B singer and “The Voice” semi-finalist Cheesa, and premier Filipino American stand up comedian Rex Navarette.
Adding luster to the annual celebration are international jazz vocalist Kevin Lettau (“Sunlight,” “Bridges/Travessia”), YouTube sensation and Super Selfie King Gabriel (Gab) Valenciano, Fil-Am actor/model and “Pinoy Big Brother” housemate Ivan Dorschner, and multi-awarded actor and singer Cesar Montano, one of the stars of the acclaimed Manny Pacquiao bio flick “Kid Kulafu.” Montano is also the lead star of the late Marilou Diaz’s internationally-renowned opus “Jose Rizal.”
The June 7 event will also serve as a homecoming for Fil-Am beauty queen Christi Lynn “Ashley” Landrito McGarry of New Jersey after being crowned in March as Binibining Pilipinas-Intercontinetal. Joining her is Mrs. Asia International 2014 Joyce Pilarsky.
With the theme “The Filipino: An Active Partner in Environmental and Climate Change Governance,” the 117th commemoration of the declaration of Philippine Independence from Spain will be highlighted by colorful themed floats, open cars and lively marching bands, along with participants in captivating costumes representing dozens of Fil-Am organizations in the New York tri-state area.
Philippine Airlines, which recently inaugurated its New York flight this year, is the official sponsor.
Leading the pack of dignitaries are Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr., Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Lourdes Yparaguirre,
Consul General Mario De Leon Jr., PIDCI officers and past grand marshals, past presidents and overall chairs and this year’s grand marshal, Manhattan lawyer and civic leader Reuben Seguritan.
Various New York city and state officials, led by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, have also been invited, according to organizers.
Also gracing the parade on a special float are Mrs. Kalayaan 2015 Rose Mejia Richman and Diwa ng Kalayaan 2015 Katherine Campbell and their court of beauties, and the New York Police Department (NYPD) and its Asian American members under the NYPD Asian Jade Society.
The June 7 event will kick off with a flag ceremony at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue near 46th Street, to be followed by a solemn mass to be officiated by Concelebrants lead by Rev. Monsignor Aquino, (PIDCI’s Parade Grand Marshal 2008).
The street fair, featuring an array of Philippine food and treats, will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., between 26th Street and 24th Street on Madison Avenue.The two-hour grand parade will start at noon sharp with ribbon-cutting at 11:45 a.m. from 38th Street down to 27th Street, to be followed by the cultural festival from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 23rd Street.
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