Philippine Fiesta main performers Ariel Rivera, Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Melai Cantiveros and Jason Francisco flanked with regional performers introduced by Ogie Afable, production director.

Elegantly dressed in their ternos and barong Tagalogs, Filipino Americans filled the ballroom of the Sheraton Meadowlands on Aug. 19 for People’s Ball, which kicked off the three-day celebration of the Philippine Fiesta in America.

The Fiesta, now on its 13th year, is a “celebration of what it is to be Filipino in America, our second home,” said organizer Nanding and Mila Mendez.

Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate, and his wife Eleanor, headed the list of officials who graced the affair.

“It’s quite impressive for Nanding and Mila Mendez to offer the Filipino community this wonderful tapestry of Filipino food, song and dance at its finest,” said Consul General de Leon.

Adding excitement to People’s Ball was the presence of Philippines‚ popular stars Zsa Zsa Padilla,and the comedy love team Melai and Jason.

“This is also the second year that we highlight the support of private institutions for empowering the lives of Filipino Americans,” said Nanding.

Empowerment awards were given to Suellyn Ellerbe, executive vice president and COO of Saint Clares Health System, Anthony Paredes, founder and managing partner of A.F. Paredes & Co., Jake Kahen, general manager of Hudson Toyota, and Emmanuel Moya, C.E.O. of Fluidyne International Corporation.

To celebrate the 400th year anniversary of the founding of the University of Santo Tomas, Philippine Fiesta honored two outstanding Tomasians — Rev. E. Gary Villanueva, M.D., and Francine Savellano for their dedication to their professions and service to the community.

The evening’s affair also highlighted the partnership forged with the U.S. Pan American Asian Chamber of Commerce northeast chapter which awarded the 2011 Rising Star Awards to Phil-Am Merchandising Corporation’s general manager, Erwin Santos, and the technology award to its COO, Rafael Lopez.

This is part of its community outreach to encourage Asian businesses to participate in its supplier diversity corporate programs.

Good weather on Saturday noon heralded the start of the Philippine Fiesta at the Meadowlands Expo Center.

To grace the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the convention hall were Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., and his wife Vicki Jose Cuisia; Bergen County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan; and Mayor of Secaucus Michael J. Gonnelli.

Attendees sampled and saw the many offerings presented by sponsors and exhibitors.

A varied range of handicrafts, clothing, vehicles, real estate, goods and services set before them, many were able to get a head start on their Christmas shopping.

The children’s pavilion was filled with young and creative participants while the chess pavilion headed by Bong Ortiz and Jun Encarnacion attracted many chess enthusiasts.

The mass was celebrated on Sunday, followed by colorful Santacruzan parade of over 150 participants headed ny Rhodora Lyness, Virgie Wilcox and Mely Garcia.

The aisles were packed with those eager to rediscover the latest and greatest in Filipino innovation.

Raffles, promotions and giveaways were a persistent counterpoint as the crowd swelled, eager for the night’s performance.

Meanwhile, a long line composed mainly of fans of ABS-CBN stars Zsa-Zsa Padilla, Ariel Rivera, and the comedy love team Melai and Jason for the “Meet and Greet the Stars” at the Fiesta.

The fans were not disappointed: not only did they get a chance to see their favorite stars in person, but they also had their photographs taken with them.

The cultural event headed by Ogie Afable and Rose Javier featured many regional performers with various talent abilities.

The event also featured Pinoys Got Talent competition headed by Hector Magno and performed by many talented participants.

As the evening’s entertainment drew near, scattered buzzes of excitement began to arise, from mouths lathed in sweets and content from a wide sample of authentic Filipino cuisine.

The program, once in full swing, brought cheers and a sense of coming together as Filipinos in America, on a Fiesta weekend.

To participate in 2012 Philippine Fiesta on Aug. 18-19 at the Meadowland Expo Center, please call 212.682.6610 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it