Partygoers in elegant masquerade masks mingled with Batman, Captain America, Spiderman, the Hulk and several Wonder Women as they celebrated the Filipino American Association of Santa Clarita Valley’s (Fil-Am of SCV) 36th annual Inaugural Ball at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Sunday.
The superhero masquerade-themed party both celebrated the accomplishments of the old leadership and welcomed the new board members. Incumbent President Jocelyn Reyes said she chose the masquerade theme because she thought it would be a fun way to “unmask the real heroes behind the scenes who work to keep our organization going.”
“Tonight still feels so surreal to me because there was so much work that went into planning and all the little details that I hadn’t been sleeping well the last couple of days,” Reyes, who was dressed like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, said with a laugh. “People have been congratulating me because this was the first year that we’ve completely sold out our 200 seats, and I had to deny so many people. Tonight I just want to have fun and make sure that everyone is having a good time.”
The night’s festivities included dinner, a silent auction, inaugural ceremonies, dancing, musical performances and a dance performance. Rather than double down on the cultural aspects of the organization, Reyes said she chose to forgo Filipiniana for more modern arts and music and to just have fun with the masquerade theme.
Joel Javan, public relations officer for Fil-Am, said his favorite part of going to the inaugural balls is celebrating the accomplishments of the past year with the other members of the organization.
“I love coming to the inaugural ball because it’s a way to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while and it also helps spread awareness of who we are and what we do, like our scholarships,” he said. “There’s the idea that Filipinos really like to party and it’s true. We’re a very lighthearted people who don’t know what stress is and parties are just a way to keep our connections to each other strong.”
Javan added that he is excited to see Reyes increase the organization’s focus on sports and cultural dances, which he said have been core parts of the organization that had been neglected as of late. Tryouts for the basketball team were held on Saturday, and those who tried out will have a chance to compete in the Nike 3-on-3 tournament in August.
“This year, the board of directors is a very diverse group of people that come from different backgrounds like sports, medicine and entertainment,” Javan said. “When you have people that have these different ways of thinking working together in a room, it waterproofs our association because you learn from each other which helps make awesome things happen.’
Though he is not Filipino, James Hecker is familiar with Filipino celebrations and the community and jumped eagerly accepted an invitation from his coworker.
“The Filipino people I know are always so welcoming and they tell me, ‘Even though you don’t look Filiipino, you’re part of the family,’” said Hecker, who also invited his church’s new Filipino pastor to the ball. “I never hesitate to attend any Filipino-hosted event.”