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Memories flood Filipino celebration of fathers

  • June 29, 2009

By Sarah Rohrs
Staff Writer

In honoring her father Sunday afternoon, Catherine Manalang spoke of a man who worked hard, listened without judgment, and was always able to lift spirits and make people smile.

Since Catalino Manalang passed away from cancer last October just before his 56th birthday, his 26-year-old daughter says his life continues on in her young daughter, Amaya Jones.

With her daughter standing on stage next to her, the young woman was among many to honor their fathers and grandfathers as part of "Barongs of Our Fathers," an art and music festival at the Foley Cultural Center.

She encouraged audience members to always cherish their fathers and grandfathers and not take them for granted.

"Barongs of Our Fathers," was organized by Stacy Cabales of Vallejo, a recent California State University East Bay graduate. A fund-raiser to benefit the Bayanihan Clinic of Sacramento, the event drew artists, musicians and community members.

A barong is a traditional, formal embroidered garment men in the Philippines wear.

Cabales said she never acknowledged her late grandfather, Severo Magtoto, A decade after his death, the Jesse Bethel High School graduate was inspired to honor him and allow others to do the same.

Local artists enthusiastically joined the festival to honor fathers and grandfathers who influenced them, and helped shape them. Cabales said she hopes to hold an event annually to honor fathers and grandfathers.

Mark Medina, 23, displayed a colorful, joyous painting of his 92-year-old grandfather Peter Reyes, a World War II veteran. Standing in front of the flag of the Philippines, the 92-year-old man is smiling broadly.

"He still has that sense of humor. He brings a lot of happiness," Medina said. The painting helped the young man connect with Reyes and to realize the two share many personality traits.

Some artists created work at the event, such as Tim Guitarte who sketched and painted portraits of his father and grandfather.

"He's always been there for me," Guitarte said, of his father. "He's been somebody to look up to."

Christine Balza said Filipino fathers and grandfathers struggled, sacrificed and gave much to bring their families to the United States so that they could go to school and get good jobs.

In a poster display about her father, Criste Aguilar Silverio, she noted he was in the U.S. Air Force, and is a Christian pastor and fisherman.

"I would like to honor my Father for his tenacity, determination and for the ability to catch blue crabs with his toes," she wrote above his photo.
Vallejo resident Christian Voltar Alcala, the son of legendary Filipino comic book artist Alfredo Alcala, was also on hand, displaying dozens of his father's comic book covers.

"I just want to show the contribution of my dad and showcase (his art) for this generation of artists so that they will be inspired and not forget their roots," Alcala said.

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