"In societies where Robbing Hoods are treated like a celebrity it is but natural to expect political parties to act like a Mafia syndicate" Political Jaywalker "In a nation where corruption is endemic people tend to confuse due process with aiding and abetting criminals" Political Jaywalker "War doesn't determine who is right, war determines who is left" Bertrand Russell "You have just one flash flood of money, you keep your people poor. It's like a time bomb and it's scary" Philippine Lawmaker

The Philippines in California's Rose Parades

Some of the gigantic, animated floats in the 2010 Rose Parade (from top-left, clockwise): Rain Bird Corporation's "Mountaintop Majesty," Farmers Insurance's "Salute to the Bands," American Honda's "Ship of Dreams," and China Airlines' "Taiwan's Guardian - The Third Prince."

Nearly a hundred marching bands, equestrian teams, and floats marched down the 5.5-mile stretch of Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena during the 121st Tournament of Roses Parade. Under a blue sky and amid a warm sunny morning, hundreds of thousands of people lined up both sides of the street to watch; millions more were glued to their TV sets at home, it was said.

The theme of the New Year's Day spectacle was "2010: A Cut Above the Rest" and for the first time officials opted for a real life hero, Capt. Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger, instead of an entertainment celebrity as the grand marshal. Sullenberger was the pilot of a disabled passenger plane that landed in the Hudson River saving everyone aboard. That is not to say that he was the first and only real hero who had the honor of leading the mammoth parade. It is said that in 1952, seven Medal of Honor awardees were given the honor and still earlier, in 1957, famous World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker was it.

One never cease to wonder at the painstaking efforts by so many volunteers pasting plant parts inch by inch that finally transform mechanized behemoths into wondrous works of art. To think that these expensive objects of wonderment are immediately on the way to oblivion after the parade and the viewings. Then the designing for next year's entries start all over again.

The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 to advertise the fact that while people elsewhere were buried in snow, in California the flowers are blooming and oranges are about to bear. Since then the Rose Parade had grown immensely in the number of participants, in the size of appreciative onlookers, and the complexity and expense involved in putting up the floats.

The parade had long ceased to be the exclusive domain of the state. Many of participating teams, bands, and floats are now originated from other regions of the USA and even other countries. For example in this year's outing Taiwan, Mexico, and Guatemala were among the prominent participants.

The Tournament of Roses website carries a photo of a Philippine float participating in the 1917 parade. That was at a time when my country was still a colony of the US. The float consisted of three ladies in terno and a nipa hut mounted on a four-wheeled vehicle covered with white petals and has the marking MANILA on the side.

In 1994, Erica Beth Brynes had the distinction of being the first Filipino-American to reign over the festivities. The following year, another beauty with Fil-Am roots - Melissa Dittmar - was selected as a princess.

A few years later, the Philippines participated with a two-piece float "Welcome to Our Celebration" spotlighting the scenic beauty of the islands and the country's centennial celebration. That was also the year that my cash-starved country splurged in some other international exposures such as the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the Festival of the Pacific Nations and the Festival of Culture and Arts in France.

The following year the Philippines was seen again in the Pasadena parade with another two-piece float consisting of a gigantic jeepney and a depiction of a flower garden, a giant sarimanok, and dancers in native costumes.

Among this year's winning floats was Rain Bird Corporation's "Mountaintop Majesty," which garnered the judges' nod in the Sweepstakes Award category for being the most beautiful float with Outstanding Floral Presentation and Design. The entry featured a family of endangered gorillas frolicking in the African rainforest and a waterfall fed by more than 15,000 gallons of water.

The International Award - Most Beautiful Entry from Outside the Continental U.S. went to China Airlines Ltd. for "Taiwan's Guardian - The Third Prince." In Chinese mythology, the prince rides on a wheel of fire over the ocean to fight a dragon.

Lathrop K. Leishman Award - Most Beautiful Non-Commercial: Torrance for "Garden of Dreams."

Grand Marshal's Award - Excellence in Creative Concept & Design: New Mexico for "Enchantment Is in the Air."

Queen's Award - Most Effective Use & Display of Roses in Concept, Design & Presentation: Bayer Advanced for "We are the Champions."

Mayor's Most Outstanding City Entry, National or International: West Covina Rose Float Foundation, "Tuskegee Airmen: A Cut Above."

Judges' Special Award - Most Spectacular in Showmanship & Dramatic Impact: Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, "Mexico Bicentennial."

Animation Award - Best Animation and Motion: Burbank Tournament of Roses Association, "Barnyard Aces."

Fantasy Award - Most Outstanding Display of Fantasy and Imagination: La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association, "Scissored Wizard."

Tournament Special Award - Exceptional Merit in Multiple Categories Include Floats Over 55 feet: American Honda, "Ship of Dreams."

Tournament Volunteers' Award - Best Floral Design of Theme 35 feet or Under: Rotary International, "Service Above the Rest."

NOTE: Also published in Los Angeles-based "Pinoy News"
Dionesio C. Grava - Part-time community journalist based in Los Angeles and editorial writer at Forum Asia.

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