A Whole Lot of Love

Mrs. Filipino Valentine contest celebrates cultural heritage.

By Léo Azambuja

The Filipino community on Molokai crowned Violeta Ballocanag as the new Mrs. Valentine during a gala event at Home Pumehana Saturday night. The radiant and beautiful mom and wife now will represent her cultural heritage until next year.

Ballocanag competed against three other contestants, in a night filled with cultural homage to Filipino cultural traditions. Council Vice-chair Danny Mateo hosted the event, alongside Leonida Molina.

The community center at Home Pumehana was quickly filled by well over 100 people. The Filipino community, the second largest ethnic group in the state of Hawaii, showed a little bit of their rich culture, by showcasing music, dancing and singing.

In one of the most endearing moments of the night, Steven Jenkins sang to his wife, Karen Jenkins, who was one of the contestants. Jenkins ended a superb serenade on his knees, bringing the audience to a long ovation. Mateo, in one of his many spirited jokes of the night, said he sounds “exactly like that in the shower.”

The title of Mrs. Filipino Valentine, despite being disputed by four gorgeous women, does not involve beauty or talent. The pageant who brings in the most money from fundraising ends up with the trophy and the crown.

The money raised goes to a scholarship fund, according to Jerry Clemente, president of the Molokai Filipino Cultural Club (MFCC). To qualify for the scholarship, students who are pursuing a higher education must meet five criteria; have some Filipino ancestry, be a Molokai resident, have a GPA of at least 3.0, meet a financial need and be involved in extra-curricular activities such as community events.

Clemente said the event is the major fundraiser for the scholarship. About 90 percent of all the businesses on the island donate some kind of help, according to him. Thousands of raffle tickets, a commemorative book filled with advertising, and the famous damage dance add up to thousands of dollars toward the scholarship.

Each contestant performs a damage dance, in which friends and family of the pageant come up to the front of the stage and dance. Each dancing pair donates at least $1 to the contestant’s purse.

“The bigger the damage, the better the dance,” joked Mateo.

Mateo talked about the importance of the scholarship in perpetuating the Filipino heritage in Hawaii. “Tonight is about investing in our future,” he said, noting that Filipinos no longer are looked at only as manual laborers, but also as doctors, attorneys, politicians and professionals.

Clemente credited the success of the night to community and businesses that donated time and money to the event.


Mrs. Congeniality – Maricris Ballesteros

Mrs. Photogenic – Violeta Ballocanag

Most Beautiful Evening Wear – Karen Jenkins

Third Runner Up, Mrs. Charity – Karen Jenkins

Second Runner Up, Mrs. Love – Lian Duffy

First Runner Up, Mrs. Hope – Maricris Ballesteros

Mrs. Valentine – Violeta Ballocanag


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