(Until now, the euphoria over the success of the 2nd International Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards night has not yet receded from my system. Although it's quite late to blog about it, I am reposting [with permission] an account of the affair as posted by my wife, Judge Christine Muga-Abad in her December 30, 2009 FaceBook Notes)
The 2nd International Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards Night held last Dec 27, 2009 at the PhilAm Life Theater in Manila was a very important and much-awaited affair for my family. We had our plane tickets booked as early as September 2009, to make sure that we will not miss out on this rare occassion. Jethro is the 2009 President of the Pinoy Expat/OFW Bloggers Association, Inc. (PEBA, Inc.) composed of Pinoy bloggers based all over the world, and we were throwing our all out-support for this event and for PEBA, Inc. as well.
So after many months of preparation, we flew off to Manila on the early morning of Dec. 26, a day earlier than the scheduled event as Jethro had to meet the rest of the officers of PEBA and the organizers. It was the first time for them to see each other in the physical world as previous conferences and plannings were done in the virtual world.
On the day of the event, we decided to rest the whole morning in our hotel and tried looking for a beauty salon to have our hair done before dressing up for the occasion. But no salon was opened at that time and thus, we were forced to fix our hair by ourselves. Gabrielle braided her younger sister's hair and placed a little hair gel/spray to tame the thick and wavy curls. The outcome was perfect and Chloe came out from the dressing room happy with her hair and very pretty in her little black dress, gold gladiator shoes with a matching gold sling bag. Gabrielle was ready with her ballerina skirt , black flat shoes and white top. Kevin was sporting a rugged look with a blazer. Jethro who was toying between a barong and a business suit, finally settled for the latter. As for me, my clothes were off-the- rack from Rustan's after a very hurried shopping.
Two hours before the scheduled start of the program, we were already at the venue. Jethro was adamant that we should be at the PhilAm Life Theater early. When we arrived at the theater: the place was abuzz with activities, the theater was ready, the ushers and usherettes were in their assigned areas, the red carpet already rolled out in the presscon area and the singers were busy vocalizing. I was introduced to a lot of Jethro's blogger-friends whom he has only meet face to face during that night. There was one from Afghanistan, from Riyadh, from Shanghai, from France, from the US... Faces of the bloggers were flushed with excitement as they came and met their fellow bloggers in the flesh for the very first time. Although I am not yet into blogging (only FB for now), I am quite familiar with the other bloggers as I also visit and read their blogs too. I enjoyed looking at the group and silently guessed each of their names based on the photos found in their blogs. There was also this tall, lovely and fashionably-dressed lady who passed by my seat and I was trying to put a name to the face. Later, I learned that she was Sundrenched, one of the four ladies of the "Pink Tarha" blog based in Riyadh. She went up the stage to get their award as they bagged the second place for the Top Ten Best Expats/OFW Blogs for 2009.
The program started past six in the evening and everybody was welcomed by PEBA, Inc. founder and Chairman Kenji Solis of Al Khobar. He came with his wife and their little girl. A keynote speech was made by former Secretary of DSWD Dinky Soliman, who extolled the OFWs for being the modern day heroes of the Philippine economy. She also shared her experience as an OFW in Cambodia after her stint in Malacanang. The daughter of the late Senator Blas Ople and senatorial candidate Susan 'Toots' Ople, was also there and challenged each one to join the bloggers and learn how to make use of the internet and send emails to foster ties between OFWs and their families left behind. She said that she will ask OWWA to include in the PDOS, the reading of the winning blogs and other OFW blogs to prepare the OFWs in their adjustment and integration in the foreign lands they will be working. Party-list Representative and Senatorial-bet Lisa Hontiveros also graced the event to show her support to the Pinoy bloggers and to PEBA. There were a lot of entertaining numbers during the program: the awesome rendition of an excerpt from 'Ako Si Ninoy' Musicale by the Aliw Awardee Philippine Stagers Foundation was a blast that opened the ceremony, a hilarious spoof by "Juana Change" about a domestic helper based in Italy who came home to help her son in his coming candidacy as "kagawad" in their town's elections brought the house giggling, Filipiniana dance numbers by Hiyas ng Rizal dance troupe, songs from some alternative/progressive band groups, etc.
The main highlight of the program was the giving out of the blog awards. As expected under the circumstances, most of the winners were represented by their family members, as the awardees/OFWs themselves are still out of the country and were unable to come home for the awards night. It was a touching moment... seeing the bloggers happy for being recognized for their blogs. They feel proud, knowing that their true-to-life stories have been appreciated by other Pinoys. It was equally touching to see the proud faces of the family members of the OFWs/bloggers. Parents of one awardee came all the way from Bohol, there was one blogger who came with apparently the whole clan...another came with her/his group of friends.
As I gazed at the Pinoy/OFW bloggers, I knew that they have a personal drama, a funny anecdote, a happy milestone, a painful experience to share to all of us. As imparted by Jethro in his closing remarks, being able to blog and being able to express yourself in a medium where it can easily be accessed by a lot, is a therapy that helps one to overcome loneliness and struggles that an OFW experiences in a foreign land.
To the OFWs/Pinoy Expat Bloggers including my hubby Jethro...I salute you all for your success in working and carving a niche in foreign lands . I also highly admire you all for sharing your talent in writing thru your blogs. God bless you all.
Photo Credits: Kevin Jethro Muga Abad
UN Avenue, Malate, Metro Manila
Main Entrance to the Theatre
The well-lighted Theatre's Lobby
The Stage The Theatre's Seating Arrangement
Another view of the stage
Pictorials before the Awarding Ceremony
Pictorial at the Red Carpet of the Presscon Area
Chloe Eunice, Gabrielle Khryss and Kevin Jethro
The two girls posing in front of the elegant Christmas tree.
Waiting for the Program to start...
PEBA Founder and Chairman Kenji Solis with Shiela and Heavyn posing with the Former DSWD Secretary Dinky Juliano Soliman & Party List Representative & Senatorial Candidate Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel
The Awarding Ceremony
The Philippine National Anthem
The Philippine Stagers Foundation (Aliw Awardee) in their awesome presentation
of an excerpt from"Ako Si Ninoy" Musicale
Kenji Solis giving the Opening and Welcome Address
A pop-alternative band giving a special number
PEBA logo flashed on the screen
Former DSWD Secretary Dinky J. Soliman giving her keynote speech
Former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman receiving her Plaque of Appreciation
Another band rocking the house...
Susan 'Toots' Ople awarding the Blas Ople Policy Center