Mano Po


A church in the Philippines needs a new bell and bell tower. Some enterprising Filipino Americans in California see the need to preserve their traditional culture. Accomplishing both of those objectives is the purpose of the “Mano Po” event, connecting Vallejo, CA with Barihan, Plaridel, Bulacan in the Philippines. It was a fundraiser for the Santisima Trinidad Church in Barihan with a celebration of Philippine folk dances and traditions, and the music of the Philippines’ premier folk band, Ang Grupong Pendong, at the Filipino Community Center in Vallejo last Saturday (March 12).

It was the brainchild of Zen Nogue. “I have very strong ties to Barihan,” revealed Zen , “and I know that the Santisima Trinida Church is very important to this community. It has grown enormously over the years from a very small beginning. I can’t be there to help them in person, but I can still help them from here. And what better way could there be to raise funds for a church in the Philippines than through a celebration of Philippine culture, featuring folk dances and traditions. I’m very concerned that we should not forget our culture. So ‘Mano Pa’ is important in that regard too.”

Organizer Lucy Marte shared Zen’s sentiment. Lucy, a high school Filipino language teacher in Vallejo, is especially concerned for Fil Am youth. “I want to make sure that young Filipino Americans continue to observe Filipino culture and traditions, and that they don’t forget their heritage,” Lucy states. That’s why I have recruited some of my students [from Jesse Bethel High School] as dancers for Mano Po. Involving them in an event like this reinforces their sense of their heritage. In addition to that, it involves them in the community – which I also consider important.”

The other dancers were children and teens from the Marhalika Cultural Troupe in Martinez. Fil Am community leaders were also among the dancers: Visayan Circle President, Annie Ramos, with her husband, Jess Ramos; and the President of the Filipino Community of Vallejo, Norma Placido, with her husband, Nanding Placido. Choreographer Cynthia Novero described the dances: “There are traditional dances and costumes from all over the Philippines. From the Mountain Province we have the Sakpaya dance in the Igorot costume. The Southern Philippines dance is the Kappa Malog Malong in the Muslim Malong costume. Other provinces are also represented by their dances, including Visayan and Luzon. We want to give a flavor of the whole country.”

Adding to that flavor was the music of the renowned Ang Grupong Pendong, who blend traditional and contemporary music, using indigenous instruments, like the kulintang, the kubang and the faglong.

“Mano Po” was sponsored by the Visian Circle of Northern California and by the Filipino Community Center, 611 Amador Street, Vallejo.