Photos courtesy of Oscar Sibal, Manny Lopez, Ferdi Hudencial

WASHINGTON DC- On its 7th year, the Filipino Heritage Night (FHN), organized by Filipino-American Basketball Assn (FABA) of Metro DC’s Ken Mendoza, staged another successful “all tickets sold out” day of showcasing Filipino Heritage through the Philippines’ favorite sports- basketball during the NBA Wizards vs. Miami Heat game, Capital One Arena, Washington D.C. FHN endeavors to bring the Filipinos and non-Filipinos closer together in this annual event where FABA players are given a chance to play in the prestigious NBA court, meet their favorite NBA stars up-close inspiring them to do better in basketball.
Both US and Philippine national anthems were sang by Fil-Ams from New York City – the TOFA Artists & Performers led by Elton Lugay.
This year at the NBA Halftime show, two multi-awarded groups, the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) of Metro Washington D.C. spearheaded by Grace Divina Valera, Jesse A Gatchalian/ Arnedo S Valera and the Richmond Pilipino Class from Central Virginia (RPC) led by Maria Cielo Sinsioco, performed “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” dance to the music of “Piliin mo ang Pilipinas”.
Other performers with the group were from the Ilocano Society of America/ ISA’s Miss Teen Philippines-America beauty queens, some Mabuhay Inc. members and the eskrimadores of the Pinakatay Eskrima (c/o Lexi Crisostomo) in DC.
The two groups’ choreographers were Dennis Michael Hona-Hansinger and Ludwig Osorio.
A total of 90 dancers (56 from MHC and 34 from RPC) proudly performed waving US and Philippine flags, signifying the friendly ties between the 2 countries.
The dance showcase was initiated by MHC’s Executive Director & former Philippine Embassy’s Cultural Officer/ Attache’ Grace Valera who thought of encapsulating the diverse, vibrant and colorful cultures of the Philippines in one production number.
And to ensure a bigger participation, Grace asked the collaboration of Maria Cielo Sinsioco of Richmond Pilipino Class- a highly dedicated cultural group from Central Virginia, who agreed to do the Southern Philippines/Muslim suite while the rest of the suites will be done by MHC.
Both Valera and Sinsioco believed that showcasing the Philippines to the American mainstream is a great way to spread Philippine goodwill and promote the good image of the Philippines in the U.S.A.
With the big banner of “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”, the Halftime showcase in the US capital, featured the Philippines’ diverse cultures of 5 cultural suites namely: the Spanish/Maria Clara Suite, the Cordillera/ Mountain Province Suite, the Southern Philippines/Muslim Suite, the Tribal & Ati-atihan suite and the Rural/Barrio Fiesta Suite.
To the delight of over 20,000 arena audience, the two pride of the Philippines- Manny “PACMAN” Pacquiao (a Pacquiao look-alike Rudy Merc) and the Philippines’ Miss Universe (played by the 2011 Miss Teen Philippines-America title holder Chessa Taboada), joined in the halftime performance. The big event was also televised thru the NBA channel and Pay for View.
Ken Mendoza, the indefatigable president of FABA Metro DC, said “Through the annual Heritage Night at NBA Games, we can inspire the young generations that anything is possible if we put our mind into it, and that as Filipinos, we are proud of our heritage and culture”.