Photo of the debutantes from the 2007 Cotillion Ball.


ON many a clear and moonless night, the stars would come out shining bright and sparkling.

Soon their bright lights would beam out of the skies onto a chosen space on earth where the festivities were filled with music and merry-making.

The space could either be Marriott Hotel in Teaneck, Sheraton in Mahwah or Meadowlands or Hilton in Newark.

Some eight or more pretty teenaged girls, along with their escorts, were ushered into the center of the ballroom for an unforgettable first formal dance of their young lives.

Such is the sight embedded in my memory that always comes alive every time the season of springtime comes around.

The month of May is the season for debutantes.

So on Sunday, May 1, 2016, friends, members and guests of the Philippine American Community of Bergen County, Inc. will gather at the Sheraton of Mahwah, N.J. to celebrate its 39th anniversary.

It’s a party like no other.

Rich in ambiances, fine foods and jovial fellowships, the event is choreographed to make it a day to remember.

At the helm of the organization is Rose Lobrin-Latanzio, of Fort Lee, N.J., a former lawyer and CPA from Batangas, Philippines will leave no stones unturned to make the celebration a complete success.

The traditional Cotillion Ball has always been the centerpiece of the PACBC annual celebration — where pairs of debutantes and escorts were marched around, in their white long gowns and tuxedos for their coming out party.

This May 1st event will feature no cotillion dance but will soon resume by next year as anxious parents are eager to sign up their young girls and boys.

The PACBC is the oldest organization in Bergen County and is always at the forefront of community activities.

Over the years, it has provided numerous scholarships for deserving students and has donated assistance to victims of calamities here and abroad.

As a measure of its commitment to the community, the members and friends of PACBC had acquired its own two-story building in Paramus.

It is situated right at the center of Paramus business district just a block away from Highway Route 4 and bordering on the right side by the gigantic Garden State Mall.

The PACBC Building is a home away from home where Filipino-Americans and their families come together to celebrate their traditional home-themed holidays such as New Year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or in holding seminars or cultural events.

At very affordable prices, the building is also available for rent to hold private parties or group presentations.

In its humble beginnings, the PACBC members will hold their events from one church auditorium to another church auditorium.

It was a tiring and tedious undertaking.

The building itself is a proud symbol of the Filipino-American community and also epitomizes the indomitable spirit of the Filipino bayanihan.

Mrs. Nilda Largoza, a retired CPA and financial comptroller of a large multi-national company and resident of Upper Saddle River, N.J., is largely responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the PACBC Building since its inception 20 years ago.

April showers bring May flowers.

Such is the lyrics of a popular love song.

Figuratively, it also means that after a period of discomfort, there soon would be beautiful things to come, more colorful and vibrant.

All around me are unmistakable signs of spring — flowers in bloom, birds in flight and people in leisurely walks around the promenades and pathways.

Spring is my favorite season because it awakens in me the feelings of a new dawn and the re-birth of life-fullness that was chilled by the coldness of an uncaring winter.

And there is also the promise of Resurrection on Easter Sunday, the very foundation of our faith and life everlasting.

May I also take this opportunity to invite the parents and alumni of the PACBC Cotillion Balls attend its 39th anniversary on May 1, 2016.

It is a time to reminisce the memories of that special segment of our younger life.

How long ago was forever!

I still remember those awkward moments when our 15- or 16-year-old boys and girls were first introduced to each other as cotillion dance partners.

Soon enough they became best friends forever.

As for example, my older son had this beautiful and lovely girl as his partner.

After four years of college, they became real partners in life and later on were blessed with three lovely children.

My other son also loved the cotillion so much that he had been in so many debutante balls, including in that luxurious and world-famed Waldorf-Astoria.

And my daughter, as fate would have it, reunited with her cotillion partner and have been married to each other happily ever after.

At the PACBC Balls, the Cotillion is an annual rite of passage — from a world of innocence to a new life of discovery.

Soon the full moon will come back again in full glow, over the hills and thoroughfares, in Bergen County and elsewhere.

In my memories, the moonshine won’t obscure the glittering lights of those twinkling stars dancing on the floor while their parents are aglow with pride and happiness.

A life lived to its fullest is a life celebrated.

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