MAY 29 - JUNE 4, 1998

Sen.-elect Legarda

NY parade guest

Consul General Willy C. Gaa, the overall chairman of the Philippine Centennial celebration, announced that Senator-elect Loren Legarda-Leviste, the popular broadcast journalist who topped the May 11 Philippine senatorial race, will be the guest of honor for the Philippine Centennial Parade and Festival in New York City on June 7.

Centennial Sunday is the New York version of what President Fidel V. Ramos has been referring to as "the celebration of a lifetime" for present-day Filipinos - the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine independence.

Consul General Gaa himself has called on Filipinos in the New York region several times in the last few months to join the Philippine Centennial Celebra-tion calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime" celebration.

Up until the beginning of this week, organizers of the celebration had not picked a guest of honor. However, when Ms. Legarda continued to lead the list of senators in the final stages of the counting of votes, she was immediately contacted by Centennial celebration organizers and invited by the New York festivities' honored guest, which she graciously accepted.

Ms. Legarda is a multi-awarded broadcast journalist of the Philippines today, having received the Benigno Aquino Fellowship award in 1996 and the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award in 1992, among others.

She hosts the award-winning newsmagazine "The Inside Story" and coanchor's the top-rated television newscast "The World Tonight."

Ms. Legarda has a master's degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) and is a reservist in the Philippine Air Force, holding an officer's rank of lieutenant colonel.

The whole-day program on June 7 includes an all-day street festival, the grand parade, and a three-and-a-half hour cultural program, with all three main events taking place on a stretch of Madison Avenue between 41st and 23rd Street.

In a meeting with the organizing committee composed of Filipino community leaders, Consul General Gaa also announced that Paolo Montalban, Filipino talent of "Cinderella" fame, will be the top performer at the cultural program to be presented on an opera stage on the east side of Madison Avenue between 24th and 25th Street, directly across Madison Square Park, from 3 p.m. on.

Paolo Montalban's credits include Broadway appearances in "Man of La Mancha" and "The King and I," but it was his role as the Prince in the made-for-television Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Cinde-rella" that catapulted him to stardom. Organizers have also recruited other name talents for the cultural show, such as Rodrigo "Bimbo" Cerrudo and the group "Pinay" from Los Angeles, California.

Centennial Sunday reels off with an 8:30 a.m. flag ceremony at the Philippine Center at 556 Fifth Avenue, between 45th and 46th Street, immediately followed by a mass at the Kalayaan Hall. At about the same time the all-day street festival will start to stir on the east and west side of Madison Avenue from 23rd to 26th Street.

Meantime, at 10 a.m., grand parade participants will begin to gather at 41st through 38th Street, east and west of Madison Avenue, for the noon parade that winds down the Avenue to 27th Street with the last float bearing the Binibining Philippine Centennial passing the reviewing stand on the east side of the Avenue between 27th and 28th Street at around 3:30 p.m., ending the parade.

Close to 100 organizations, associations, groups, floats, plus 12 marching bands, led by the famed Cathedral High School Band, will be participating in the grand parade, thus prompting organizers to predict that the Centennial Parade will be bigger than parades of previous years, if not the biggest in the short history of Philippine Independence Day celebrations in New York, which area community leaders and organizers tout as the biggest independence anniversary celebration in all of North America, year after year.