By: Cheryl Marcelo | Last Saturday’s grand ball hosted by the Ilocano Cultural Association of Greater Philadelphia was an elegant affair that celebrated the coronation of 2013’s Little Miss Philippines Sydney Marie Niemala. Trevose’s Radisson Hotel came alive with the sounds of music, accompanied by the rhythmic tapping of shoes on the dance floor as attendees rushed for a round or two (or ten) of line dancing. The fashion, much like the location, was elegant, though all could not outshine the beauty of the night’s celebrant. In fact, I claim that Miss Philippines, along with other young Filipino Americans, took center stage on Saturday night with their vivacious energy and impressive talents.
The program went off to a great start with an instrumental version of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Christian and Shekinah Yanes, and Gerald and PJ Manao, followed by Marie Sophia Jimenez’s beautiful rendition of the Philippine national anthem. The Mutya Philippine Dance Company, always a crowd favorite, amazed with their performances of Philippine traditional dances, including a lively La Jota, complete with colorful costumes and castanets. The presence of last year’s Little Miss Philippines Vanessa Inigo also reminded attendees of the continuous presence of young Filipino American talent in the community.
Some of the night’s highlights were Miss Kirby Asunto’s dazzling performances during the program. After representing the Philippines through her beautiful rendition of “Lupang Hinirang” at the June 2012 Pacquiao-Bradley fight, Asunto went on to continue her rise to fame at ABS-CBN’s popular variety show ASAP. Asunto performed for and dazzled Saturday’s audience with her charm and talent. Her dedication to Little Miss Philippines to the tune of the movie Mulan’s “Reflection” was heartfelt and complementary to the night’s salute to Sydney Niemala’s coming-of-age. When Asunto wasn’t singing, she captivated the audience with her wit and charm, channeling the liveliness and professionalism of today’s seasoned hosts in the Philippines. Later on, the songstress gave another performance–a rendition to the musical Cabaret’s “The Girl in 14G.” More than her first performance, this number truly showcased the vocal versatility of the young talent; the song, with its wide range of notes and quick switches from jazz to opera, was the perfect choice for Asunto to make her mark in the world of music.
This year’s Little Miss Philippines Sydney Marie Niemala, of course, was the star of the night, and for good reason. The young lady, merely twelve in age, has already established herself as a multitalented, hardworking Filipina American. From taking on gymnastics and dance starting at the age of five, to participating in swim meets and cheerleading competitions, Sydney Niemala does her family proud with her myriad of accomplishments. Most importantly, the young lady’s love and value for family truly marks her as a great example for her peers in the Filipino American community. I, as well as the rest of the community, look forward to witnessing her growth and hearing of her successes in the future.
Congratulations to Sydney Marie Niemala for earning the title of 2013 Little Miss Philippines. Many thanks to ICAGP, especially President Ruth Luyun, for hosting the wonderful event and ensuring that the Filipino American youth have an outlet to showcase their many talents and give the Filipino American community in Greater Philadelphia excellent reasons to be proud of our future generations.