THE VERY FIRST MEMBERSHIP APPRECIATION DAY (MAD): A DAY TO CHERISH AND REPEAT!
The day began the dusk before. Even more accurate, months before, with a change of administration in between. It was PNAH President Cielito Matias-Schwarz who went forward with what was conceived the year prior under then PNAH President Violet Sadural. Great plans whose root is the ultimate good transcends administrations. It is also true that good presidents recognize this inherent good: they plan them, they implement them, and revel in the results.
September 2, Friday, at dusk, picture this: Rose Magsino and her girls, and I, with my grandkids, are seriously measuring the ground for proper placement of the canopies, marking each placement with beribboned bent wire, stuck on the ground.
The early morning of September 3, Virginia and Robert Baptista get the first prize for being at the park at 6:15. The rest trickled in quickly after that.
There were balloons to blow, canopies to struggle with in setting up, tables to be distributed, chairs, banners, accessories, and essentials to be farmed out to the different tables. It was a coordinator’s nightmare. It was nail-bitingly close to 9:00 am, when everything (appeared) to be set in place.
And, of course, Pinoys were being true to nature- late comers. It was past 9:00 am. Prexy Cielito Matias-Schwartz and I were nervously whispering about the start time and how we now have to start cutting the program I so obsessively worked on the night before. Treasurer Irene Gonzales and Membership Committee newest member Rose Magsino, our gatekeepers, were ready. Our tummies were fortified with a light breakfast of OJ, pastries from Wahiawa, and donuts from Safeway. Everyone’s at the ready in their posts while chatting and catching up with folks we hadn’t seen in a while.
Then the oldies took over and we, young ones (ahem) let them. Norgen took to the floor, errrr, ground and busted out her Zumba muzak. The menopausals followed. And Ramon Sumibcay, who stayed on long after the music was over, the sweaty seniors have returned fanning to their favorite corners.
After the impromptu Zumba, we were ready for the throng to trickle. And trickle, they did. To start the show on the road, Cielito went around our 50 x 72’ stage to point what booths were up at around 9:40 am. By this time, we agreed to go with the flow: we start when we have more people. And definitely, when the guinataan and arroz caldo arrive.
Once in a while our attention was directed to the weather. Everyone was talking of how the pouring rain everywhere that early morning was creating instant floods on the streets. But the God of Rain did not pelter Blaisdell Park as it did neighboring areas. Cloud cover gave us a break from the scorching sun although I am sure everyone’s undies got soaked by the punishing humidity.
Nearing 10 am, and there were still prepping steps going on, such as hanging banners and blowing up balloons and prettifying the tables with colored tablecloths. They say about 20-40% of those who say they were coming won’t. If these stats were to be believed, there would be about 55-75 people total.
The buzz of activity has calmed down from the frenzy of the early morning when canopies needed to go up and tables/chairs distributed. Guests helped with putting up bunting and tying balloons, getting into the spirit of fun. As long as there’s happy danceable music going on, drinks to quench the thirst, and buzzing chatter, there’s merriment in the air!
We finally started around 10:15. The face painter arrived and sat in her nook. One of her first customers was li’l Jackie Dardeen. And I was carrying around a balloon man on my shoulders the whole time!
Cielito, the first of the three emcees for the day, got cracking with a warm welcome to one and all. Tina Fernandez did a great job asking for heaven’s blessing on our humble day of gratitude for all our members. She must have struck a chord up there, coz Heaven held off on the sprinklers all day! Our Membership Committee boss, Emilyn Ramones, introduced the current leadership whose support we were so blessed to have all along!
We had started our program and never looked back. A pair of siblings swayed to beautiful hula and Rose’s youngest daughter, Sandra – the strongest woman I’ve ever beheld and who also had the voice of a lark – belted out a beautiful ballad, leaving us all with chicken skin.
Free food and giveaways, prizes, Bentos, face painting, balloon twisting, lei-making, hotdogs, beautiful singing voices, and the popular lei making booth! There were multiple attractions begging for attention. And then there is also the pull of friends who enjoyed the reunion and the need for kumustahan!
During the program, Island Productions (thanks to Ramon Sumibcay and Dr. Lorna Imperial) handed Cielito a park-size “check” as part of the proceeds of the largely successful Pomoy concert the night before. Then followed the games which ushered in the greatest delight and participation of the very game audience: an exciting ballet of water balloon catch and the ending Tug-of-war show of muscles.
Alas, all things must end, even good ones. I was ready to go have a shower, eat lunch, then go to bed. But first, we had to fold things away, pick up the trash, say our goodbyes, and hasta la vista.
All in all, it was great show of support from the leadership of this organization. Our organization depends on its membership to for its continued show of support for its goals and mission. Congratulations to all who did their part: donors, participants, emcees, even the family members who helped set up, cleaned up and carried on behind the scenes.
To all of PNAH, mahalo and congratulations!
Kona Ice truck on site!
Water balloon toss
Busy bodies setting up
Generous donation from Island Living Productions
Making lei po’o
Tessie putting away the cot
The Amazon-like women of the MBC, minus the Jacobs putting away things at the end of the very successful event