In D.C., Independence Day celebrated by showcasing trends in food, fashion, and furniture

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Patis Tesoro (center) with her  creations worn by volunteer models

Patis Tesoro (center) with her creations worn by volunteer models

Ambassador Jose Cuisia and his wife Maria Victoria Cuisia hosted a  formal dinner for about 300 guests celebrating the Philippines’ 117th year of freedom from Spain.The 117th anniversary of Philippine independence was celebrated in the Nation’s Capital with a Vin d’honneur for the diplomatic corps and a fashion show featuring the textile designs of Patis Tesoro.

Among the distinguished guests who packed the Ronald Reagan Building and International Center were Rep. Matt Salmon, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald, and Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee. Community leaders came in their barong Tagalog and  Filipiniana gowns.

Cuisia recalled what he called “significant milestones” of the Philippines in the past year, such as  the continued economic stability, and the good governance platform of the Aquino Administration. These are reasons for celebration, he said.

“This year’s theme, Kalayaan 2015: Tagumpay sa Pagbabagong Nasimulan, Abot Kamay na ng Bayan (Independence 2015: Triumphs Through Reforms Within Nation’s Reach), highlights our cumulative efforts to improve the quality of life of every Filipino even in the face of daunting challenges,” he said.

Ambassador Jose Cuisia: Economic stability and good governance are ‘significant milestones’

Ambassador Jose Cuisia: Economic stability and good governance are ‘significant milestones’

Congressman Matt Salmon recognized the importance of regional peace, stability, security, and freedom of navigation and flight the Philippines has provided in the region, particularly in the South China Sea.

“We remain committed to honoring our long-standing alliances and partnerships with Asian countries in the region, and the Philippines continues to contribute to regional peace and security in contested areas such as the South China Sea,” he said.

He also noted the contributions of the Filipino-American community to the growth of the U.S. economy growth, cultural understanding, and political life.

Secretary Robert McDonald recalled moments in history when Filipinos showed courage in fighting for freedom, an act, which he said, deserves the trust and friendship of the American people.

“We forget today what a tinderbox Asia was in 1898 when the people of the Philippines declared their independence from Spain,” he said. “Japan just fought a war with China and would find another one with Russia in a few years. China was on the verge of a civil war, the Boxer rebellion, and half a dozen of foreign powers were still jockeying for position in the region. There would be two world wars upcoming and a lot of suffering and sacrifices by the Filipino people before their independence would become a permanent reality.”

He added, “Through all those years, the Filipino people were no less courageous, no less resourceful and no less deserving of freedom than any other people. And in their past 69 years of peaceful independence, they have proven themselves fully deserving of our trust and our friendship.”

Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, offered his best wishes and optimism for the future of Philippines-U.S. relations

Honored that evening were Dr. Conrado Gempesaw, first Filipino and first lay president of the Catholic St. John’s University in New York, and Rear Admiral Babette Bolivar, one of the highest-ranking Filipinos in the U.S. Navy.

Musical numbers were provided by tenor Allan Palacios Chan, who sang the “Lupang Hinirang” and “Mutya  Ng Pasig” and  Clarissa Ocampo, who  did a beautiful rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” and sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  Guests were treated to a blend of  traditional Filipino dishes, such lechon, and Vegetarian Paella while savoring a dessert of mango ice cream.

The Vin d’honneur was quickly followed by “A Gala Evening Celebrating Philippine Design, Textile and Fashion” where piña or pineapple fabric took center stage with the renowned Patis Tesoro.

About 60 breathtaking pieces made from piña, considered the finest of all Philippine hand-woven fabrics, were modeled by volunteers.

Also on display were furniture pieces by designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

Among the special guests that evening was Ms. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

“Philippine fashion has earned world-class recognition, and the U.S.-Philippines Society is pleased to sponsor this gala as a way to share with you stunning examples of some truly innovative advances in design,” said former Ambassador to Manila John Negroponte, who is co-chairman of the society.

Tesoro’s and Cobonpue’s pieces will be  open to the public at The Gallery of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center until July 15.

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