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Storm fails to dampen enthusiasm of fiesta guests
Lydia Castillo of Manteca scans the printed program for the annual fiesta celebration Saturday evening at the Lathrop Community Center. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO/ The Bulletin
LATHROP – The angry rain pummeling the roof on the Scott Brooks Gym of the Lathrop Community Center steadily threatened to muffle the musical performance of the Lathrop Youth Focus.

But it was a no-contest struggle. The youthful energy of singers Cheyanne Milligan and sisters Christina and Melissa Candelaria won hands down with their audience, the United Bacarreneos of America and guests, giving the trio a resounding applause.

The Saturday night event was the annual town fiesta celebrated by the organization every year on the feast day of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of their hometown, Bacarra, in the Philippines.

Bacarra is the Sister City of Lathrop. This year, for the first time in the five years of cultural friendship between the two cities, Lathrop co-sponsored the celebration, a move that was sanctioned by a unanimous vote of the city council. It was a Hawaiian-themed extravaganza. The luau-type dinner-dance fundraiser included a whole roasted pig and fresh pineapples for centerpieces. Colorful Hawaiian leis were slipped into the necks of guests arriving at the door. The more than 100 guests who braved the inclement weather included members from San Jose, San Francisco, Modesto, and Stockton.

Among the special guests were City Manager Cary Keaten, who came with wife Vivian and his visiting sister, and mayor-elect J. “Chaka” Santos who was accompanied by wife Rosanne. Representing newly re-elected Sonny Dhaliwal who could not get away from his job in Santa Clara were his daughter Sophia and his older son. Santos was the evening’s featured guest speaker. In his short message, he promised to help the organization in their various projects.

One of the evening’s highlights was the surprise presentation of the Most Outstanding UBA Members of 2010 award to Mr. and Mrs. Jose P. Albano, Sr. of Fremont. The plaque was presented to the couple by UBA president Nerie Acosta of Lathrop and Father Justo Andres, UBA advisor. Acosta said the award was in recognition of the Albanos’ longtime dedication and service to the cultural and service organization.

The entertainment provided by the Lathrop Youth Focus was the first time the group made its appearance at this annual celebration. Accompanying the dozen members of the service-oriented Youth Focus was the program’s volunteer coordinator Anna Candelaria. Her husband, John, who was part of the group that evening, served as the group’s videographer.

One of the three vocalists, Cheyanne Milligan, is a resident of Manteca and attends Sierra High School. She is a former winner of the Manteca Idol competition. One of the two siblings, Christina, is also a graduate of Sierra High and is currently working part-time at Red Robin restaurant in Manteca while attending San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton at the same time. Her sister Melissa, 15, attends Lathrop High School.