Harmony across cultures: An Asian Cultural Council tribute

Beyond the glitter and glamour of the ACC 60th Anniversary Gala was a most compelling program that paid tribute to the great accomplishments of the Asian Cultural Council throughout of its 60-year existence, with Malu Gamboa Lindo, treasurer of the ACC Philippines Foundation, hosting eloquently, each word she spoke giving the guests a better understanding of the significance of the evening, easily the social event of the year.

The Maynila Ballroom could not have been a more appropriate setting for the organization’s milestone celebration because the Manila Hotel, according to Malu, “is the epicenter of Filipino and American social and cultural events since the early 1990s.”

She said that she was thrilled “to share this historical venue with you to celebrate the wonderful work and dedication of the Asian Cultural Council and its benefactors for the past 60 years.”    

Lindo then enjoined everyone to watch the video presentation “Asian Cultural Council: Ignite Change,” which showcased the testimonies of past ACC grantees, all of whom have achieved renown in their creative specialties, with nine Filipinos becoming National Artists.

Other than the scrumptious five-course dinner orchestrated by Asia’s most outstanding chef Gaita Fores, equally appreciated by the distinguished roster of Manila’s and international power and privilege elite was the musical program featuring a most remarkable repertoire of Philippine Folk Songs: “Kuratsa,” “Cancion Cebuano,” “Bahay Kubo” and Ryan Cayabyab’s “Da Coconut Nut;” Vaudeville to Bodabil – “Hahabol-Habol,” “Balut,” “Aba-Ba-Ba-Boogie;” and Broadway Musical to Pinoy Musikal – “Found/Tonight,” “Impossible Dream/Bituing Di Pa Nararatnan.”

Directed by Chris Millado, an ACC grantee, it top-billed artists Bituin Escalante, Poppert Bernadas, Philippine Madrigal Singers under the baton of Mark Carpio, the Alice Reyes Dance Philippines with choreographer Ronelson Yadao, and musicians pianist Rony Fortich, bassist Christine Noel Vargas and guitarist Jordan Amaca.

Everyone enjoyed the dinner as the Manila String Machine played all-time Filipino and international favorites, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “In the Mood,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Blue Moon,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Kalesa,” “Gaano Kita Kamahal,” “Ay Ay Ay Pag-ibig,” “Ang Dalagang Pilipina,” “Usahay,” “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” and “Hatinggabi.”

Finally, if it was an enchanting evening, one that will always be remembered for its elegant ambience,  joyful camaraderie and the celebratory and hopeful mood, our most deserved congratulations go to  the artistic and production staff, namely, Nestor Jardin, Tess Rances, Chris Millado, Rony Fortich, Gino Gonzales, Barbie Tan-Tiongco, Joyce Garcia, Zayra Carreon, Soc Amon, Gee Pelaria and everybody’s favorite lights designer, Monino Duque, himself an original Rockefeller Foundation grantee, who took time out from his international and national commitments to brighten up the storied Maynila Ballroom.