Diwa ng Kalayaan kicks off 117th Philippine Independence Day celebration

Mikaela Alexa, shown here outside the Philippine Center, is the daughter of

Mikaela Alexa, shown here outside the Philippine Center, is the daughter of Adel and Melissa Rada

Diwa Ng Kalayaan 2014 Mikaela Alexa Rada of Bayonne, New Jersey, is ready to turn over her crown to her successor.

Competing for the title are six talented and community service-oriented young women, according to the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI). They are Joanna Lizardo, Rianne Avendula-Philips, Jazmine Emmanuelle B. Binag, Andrea Joyce Hermoso, Katherine Campbell, and Anne Marie Lim.

Joanna Lizardo of Allendale, New Jersey is a sophomore at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale. Competitive in Mathematics and Science, she aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. She enjoys music, arts and theatre, and is a member of the Cheerleading Varsity Team, Lacrosse Varsity Team and its Exclusive Travel Team.

Cebu-born Rianne Avendula-Philips grew up in Manhattan. She is a junior voice major at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts on the Upper West Side. The athletic honor student plays various instruments and wants to be a lawyer. She is also a member of ARISTA National Honor Society, the ARCHON Student Service Honor Society, and president of LaGuardia High School’s Filipino Club.

Jazmine Emmanuelle Binag, of Nutley New Jersey, was born in the Philippines. She is currently a Dean’s List freshman student at the Stevens Institute of Technology, majoring in Biomedical Engineering. She also aspires to be a science journalist. Her hobbies include speedpainting, writing, playing the piano. She also plays tennis, and basketball.

Manila-born Andrea Joyce Hermoso is from Bayonne, New Jersey. A sophomore and honor student at Bayonne High School, her dream is to be a lawyer. She keeps busy by playing the guitar, dancing, drawing, and is very interested in fashion.

Katherine Campbell of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, will be a graduating senior at Hasbrouck Heights High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society, with the National High School Scholar Award. She won a Girl Scouts Silver Award and garnered other pageant titles, such as National American Miss NJ Teen 2013; USA Ambassador NJ Teen 2014; Top 16th Ms. Teen USA-NJ. She plans to double-major in Nutrition and Business in college.

Anne Marie Lim, born and raised in Jersey City, she is a junior at High Tech High School, a vocational school for STEM in North Bergen, New Jersey. An Honors/AP student, she plans to study biomedical engineering, do research internships while in school, and envisions doing research in a lab or designing tools for the medical field after graduation. An avid reader, her hobbies include dancing, playing the piano, and photography. She visited Dumaguete recently as part of a medical mission organized by her church.

The Diwa ng Kalayaan beauty-brains-and-talent pageant
aims to develop and nurture a greater appreciation among the Filipino-American youth of their Filipino values and cultural heritage, according to a PIDCI statement.

The six finalists will be presented at a dinner-dance on April 11 to be held at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel at Newark Airport.

“The Diwa Ng Kalayaan bears the responsibility of being the PIDCI Ambassador of Goodwill,” says the statement. “She, together with her court, helps promote the significance of the Philippine Independence celebration to the second-generation FilAms.”

She also gets the opportunity to ride a festive float during the June Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue.

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