Sunday, January 18, 2015

Irene Kaneko

"10 Years of UTAWIT Thanksgiving"

Jan - Feb 2015

It gives me so much joy and bliss that after 10 years…
we’re still here.

10 years. Not easy.
10 years of hard work & laughter.
10 years of friendship.
10 years of musical joy.

The sun was brightly shining that day as all the production staff started to prepare and do their own tasks; the glowing faces of the grand finalists preparing and anxiously waiting for the time to do their greatest performance of their life. 

Contestants did not see each other as competitors but rather friends helping each other in their performance, clothes and make-up. This is actually the essence of Utawit: the friendship and oneness that evolved within the group. 

There was an atmosphere of excitement in the audience where everybody knows everybody from our very own Ambassador Manuel M. Lopez & Madame Maria Teresa L. Lopez with the Deputy Chief of Mission Gilberto G.B. Asuque & Mrs. Rosalie Asuque, and more officials and staff from the Embassy of the Philippines in Tokyo were in attendance.

Leaders and friends from the FilCom in Kanto area were there. However, a feeling of anxiety and nervousness can be felt at the front part of the hall, where the families and supporters of our contestants from all over Japan were seated.

For as long as the dynamic Regional Groups are here…
thank you for saying “yes” to host a Regional Qualifying Round in your area:
1. Utawit Iwate: Bayanihan Iwate - Ofy Daza Takahashi, President
2. Utawit Sendai, Miyagi: Damayan & The Kapatiran - Charity Sato, Damayan Vice- President & The Kapatiran Adviser 
3. Utawit Yamagata: Fil-Jap Association in Yamagata - Erlinda Castillo, Vice- President
4. Utawit Kanagawa:  The Ulila Foundation - Joseph Salcedo de Leon, Founder
5. Utawit Nagano: Fujimi Filipino Catholic Community - Edna Kodaira, Adviser
6. Utawit Hamamatsu, Shizuoka: Utawit Hamamatsu Executive Committee 2014 - Silvana Sugiyama, Chairman
7. Utawit Nagoya: Philippine Society in Japan-Nagoya - Nestor L. Puno, President
8. Utawit Kyoto: Mother Earth Connection Kyoto, Japan - Maria Emelia Medellada Arai, Coordinator
9. Utawit Obama, Fukui: Filipino Association of Wakasa, Inc. - Mia Yoshida, President
10. Utawit Hiroshima: Hiroshima Assistance for the Filipino Community- Rachel Semizo, President
11. Utawit Kagawa: Kagawa Filipino Community - Maria Estrella Bitoon-Inubuse, President
12. Utawit Fukuoka: Global Filipino-Japanese Friendship Association - Rosemarie Aritaka, Founder & President
13. Utawit Oita: Oita-Philippines Friendship Association - Ms. Barbara Rivera, Adviser

For as long our Philippine Embassy support is here…
UTAWIT’s former advisers, who were not able to join in the day’s festivities, shared in our celebration & greeted everyone by their video messages: Reydeluz Conferido, now the Undersecretary of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment); Saul de Vries, now the Director of Department of Labor and Employment, International Labor Affairs Bureau; Josephine Sanchez-Tobia, now the Officer in Charge of Planning & Program Development-OWWA; Ryan C. Pondoc, now the Vice-Consul & Third Secretary of the Philippine Embassy in Dubai. Father and Founder of Gawad Kalinga, Tony Meloto, gave his video message, also.

Thank you very much for the guidance and intelligence received from our Utawit Advisers, Minister and Consul-General Marian Jocelyn R. Tirol-Ignacio and Third Secretary and Vice Consul Andrea B. Leycano.

For as long as our friends and supporters are here…
The Honorable Board of Judges:
Mr Arnel Castillo, Utawit 2007 Grand Champion; Ms Emma Cordero, Asia’s Princess of Songs; Dr Mel Zulueta Kasuya, Soprano and Musical Director of the FilCom Chorale; Ms Leith Casel-Schuetz, Musical Director of the FilCom Chorale; Minister Angelica C. Escalona; Minister & Consul General Marian Jocelyn R. Tirol-Ignacio; Madame Maria Teresa L. Lopez and the Chairman of the Board of Judges, Mr Akihiko Shimizu, the Executive Vice President of Sony Music Direct (Japan) Inc.

Thank you very much for sharing your time in doing the most difficult job –  choosing the winners of the Utawit 2014 GRAND FINALS.
1. Cristina Yasuda – Kanagawa
2. Hazel Yamada – Sendai
3. Antonino Mark Bangis – Kagawa
4. Karen Gay Sakamoto – Kyoto
5. Melanie Shihara – Fukuoka
6. Romelyn Tanaka – Hiroshima
7. Bablyn Virtudazo Tanaka – Nagano
8. Vanessa Yoshida – Oita
9. Loma Raquel Ito – Tokyo
10. Yuichiro Matsuo – Fukui
11. Janeth Watanabe – Nagoya
12. Rowena Mangabat – Yamagata
13. Mami Terui – Iwate
14. Kateryn Cabalatungan - Shizuoka

Thank you very much to our official videographer/ photo-grapher Red School Media Production (RSMP) - Alden Estolas, JP Punzalan & Waweng Ga. We also had our other pro photographer friends who took their own share of Utawit moments Bonbon Garbanzos, Philip Bueza Ricafrente Watanabe, Juliuz Angelo, Joe Anne de Vera and many more.

For as long as our beloved sponsors are here…
Cebu Pacific, Seven Bank, Family Mart/Western Union/DSK, SPEED, Metro Remit, Philippine National Bank, Asia Vox Limited, Ihawan Restaurant, Asia Yaosho, Maki Beauty, Amejisto Inc., Pay Bux Card, La Cusina, EMCOR Music Bar & Restaurant, Kowa Gakuen, Mayumi Ozawa & Attorney Carmelita Lozada and many more kind- hearted Donor Friends. Thank you very much! Your sponsorship has helped Utawit in many ways.

Part of the proceeds in Utawit will be donated to our beneficiary. Utawit has been helping small kids in their education, coming from very poor families in different villages under the Gawad Kalinga-Sibol, Child & Youth Development, because Utawit believes that education is the key to a person’s success, shaping lives that are crucial to our society.

Utawit is here to stay...
On behalf of the National Executive Committee Core Groups: Teatro Kanto Organization, Samahang Pilipino-Tokyo, Science & Technology Advisory Council Japan & the Jeepney Press…

All I can say is this simple words we hear everyday but is very meaningful to me especially today.

Maraming salamat po! Thank you very much!
Itsumo osewa natte orimasu. Arigato gozaimashita!

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