By Jay Bolusa

February 17, 2009 – It is still very cold here in New York — 26 degrees F — but the wind chill factor is in the single digits. The whole week will still be like this and Thursday we can see some snow.

Last Saturday, Valentine’s Day, I attended the Little Miss Valentine’s 2009 here at the World Astoria Manor. Here, little girls of Filipino descent, vie for the title of Miss Valentines. They are usually presented on the Christmas party of the Social Club of New York, the sponsor, on the second week of December and from then on the contestants’ families work so hard to raise funds for their daughters to win.

The contestant who raises the highest amount is declared the winner and is crowned on Valentine’s Day. The funds that will be raised in this occasion will be used by the association to bankroll its various projects in the Philippines, especially the scholarship program, which is a very laudable cause.

This years’ winner is Nicole Ocampo. Margie Beof invited me to this affair. Her daughter Desiree Marie Wisotsky was Miss Valentines 2008, and turned over her reign to Nicole. This was the first Valentine’s party I have ever attended where it was a family affair. Families danced together with their friends with them.

The Coronation Ball started at 7:00 p.m. and ended at 1:00 a.m. the following morning. It was a beautiful sight to see parents dance with their children in the hall. It changed my view of Valentine’s Day celebration, where before I always thought that it’s a day for sweethearts, lovers, husbands and wives to celebrate. I now see it is better this way, to celebrate with families and friends — each family dancing with their own. I danced with the Wisotsky family, Daniel, Margie, Paul and Desiree, with their friend Angelica from 8:00 p.m. till the wee hours of the morning with only short breaks in between. It was happiness I felt, not exhaustion, after four hours of non-stop dancing.

Margie Beof was born and raised in Aborlan and migrated to California with her parents when she was in second year high school. She married Daniel, who is a retired Marine Officer. They were blessed with three children, John Paul, Paul Thomas and Desiree Marie. If only all the families would change their view of celebrating Valentine’s Day and enjoy this with their families, I believe this would be a better world to live.

What an ideal family! But not most of the Filipino families here are like this. A lot I know have fractured relationships. Materialism has crept into them that the children, at very young ages, have already embraced the western culture. As Filipinos, we have a lot of traits worthy to be preserved — if only some of these Filipinos I know will teach their children our culture, they will have lesser headaches raising them.

I truly lament for these parents. But there is always time, if only they start the change. I am praying for that day. Until next week, Ciao and God Bless!