The United Filipino Organization topped the float competition at the 2012 Liberation Day Parade, with an entry highlighting the vast and rich culture of the Philippines together with the CNMI.
With a man-made waterfall as its most notable feature, UFO's float garnered 286 points to win $1,500, besting four other entries exhibited at yesterday's parade that drew thousands of spectators.
The winning entry took some five days to create by about 50 volunteers who all worked on the design featuring giant rocks made out of paper maché and decorated with the island's flora and fauna.
Aboard the float were UFO members clad in traditional outfits of various ethnic groups from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao-the three major island groups in the Philippines-along with some children who wore island dance costumes.
Bong Malasarte, president of the umbrella organization for some 30 Filipino groups in the CNMI, said their members had to come in as early as 6am yesterday to work on the float for some minor damage caused by the previous night's heavy rain.
“We really prayed hard that our float won't get destroyed. And it wasn't. God is good,” Malasarte told Saipan Tribune.
Malasarte explained that the waterfall on the float wasn't just for decoration. Water, he said, is universal and can bind different cultures and peoples together.
He acknowledged Hawaiian Rock management led by general manager Felipe Fejeran for lending the truck used for the float, and Joel Vallega, Ernie Molina, and Patrick for their help in embellishing the float design.
“We are very happy about placing first in the float competition and we offer our victory to the entire Filipino community. Our success was made possible because we all worked together to achieve our goal. All our efforts have paid off and we thank you for your support,” he added.
Coming in second place is the Marianas High School Lancheros, which garnered 273 points and won $1,000 for their float that drew attention to local produce. Winning third place is the CAB Dancers, which received 254 points and won $500.
The other competing teams were Tun Genio A. Borja & Family and The Return of Chinaman.
Donald Crisostomo, Parade Committee chair, said the competing floats were evaluated by three judges from the government and private sector. He declined to identify them.
“There were lots of hard work and dedication that the five groups put on their floats and I'm very proud of all of them,” he said.