BAGUIO CITY, December 22, 2003  (MANILA TIMES) By Gaby B. Keith, Northern Luzon Bureau — An elderly couple and a nursing consultant from the USA, a teacher from Indonesia and a roving overseas broadcast journalist are this year’s lucky balikbayan to highlight the pearl anniversary celebration of Silahis ng Pasko.

Narciso Padilla, former city councilor and Silahis ng Pasko executive chair, said the lucky balikbayan will be accorded a VIP Mabuhay reception by Silahis and Christmas in Baguio officials, led by Mayor Bernardo Vergara and Rep. Mauricio Do­mogan, on December 27, dubbed as Baguio Balikbayan Day.

Padilla said that the activities would start at 9:30 a.m. with a motorcade coordinated by the Spectrum Communications Group on the main thoroughfares here, which will end at the Sunshine Park for a fellowship party.

He said that the lucky Balik­bayan couple are Benito Sibayan, 78, and wife Maria Nieves, 69, from Los Angeles.

“Sibayan is a retired noncom­mission officer of the Philippine Army where he was in the service for at least 31 years, 18 years of which were spent at the Philippine Military Academy,” Padil­la said.

He added that the couple migrated to the US in the early 1990s to join their son who works in a computer company. They reside at Amistad Village in Camp 7, here.

Padilla said that the couple are here for the holidays to be with their children and grandchildren.

Maria Helen Quijana and Arnell Foronda Alhambra were chosen as the lucky individual overseas workers-balikbayan in the quest’s female and male category, respectively.

Padilla said that Quijana has been a classroom teacher at St. Nicolas Pre-School in Jakarta for two years now. She was formerly a substitute teacher at the Baguio City National High School. Her husband is a photo printer at the Fuji Films shop on Session Road. They will be celebrating their wedding anniversary here on December 26 together with their two daughters.

Alhambra, seeking greener pastures abroad, left for the US in 1979, where he is presently employed as management nursing consultant in an insurance firm in California. He is also a volunteer scout of the International Committee of the Desert Pacific Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Padilla said that veteran radio broadcaster Francis Calado is this year’s balik-ng-balik balikbayan. He is a senior correspondent of Radio Station DZRH covering the US mainland from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Padilla said that Calado’s beat includes activities of the Filipino community, sports and special events.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved