It has been the tradition of Kalayaan Incorporated, the premier organization that spearheads the commemoration of Philippine Independence Day, to create lighter moments during its celebration of freedom day. It won’t be different on June 1, at the Marriott Hotel Los Angeles Airport. KI will continue to extol the beauty and virtue of Filipino womanhood, symbolizing the ideal Filipina – paragon of pulchritude, character and talent – imbued with an inherent love for our home country and humanity.
Chairing the Dilag committee is Marilou Perez, Assistant Treasurer and Ginang ng Kalayaan 2017; adviser is past President/Gala chair 2015 Zeny Sabocor, and Overall Chair is President Annie Cuevas-Lim. According to Marilou, KI is waiting for confirmation from a probably Ginang ng Kalayaan.
Meet ‘Mga Dilag ng Kalayaan’
STACEY REE WUTHRICH
Binibining Kalayaan 2019
“I am privileged to be Binibining Kalayaan 2019,” Stacey expressed, “because I believe that giving back to the community is not only through charitable work or donations, but also by humanitarian projects and simple actions as well.”
The purpose of KI’s Dilag program is to showcase Pilipina beauties and promote the culture of Filipino American women; help raise funds to support KI in implementing the celebration of the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence and its charitable and humanitarian projects; and promote our Dilag as KI’s Ambassadors of Goodwill.
Binibining Kalayaan lives by the words of Saint Mother Teresa who said, “Do small things with great love.” She strives, she says, to be like her late father who was “loving, humble, selfless and always said ‘yes’ when it comes to assisting those who are in need.”
She has, therefore, planned to continue to find creative ways to help those in need, especially in the Philippines.
“With today’s society and the negativity around it,” she stated, “I have learned that simple gestures such as a smile, holding a hand, donating items, feeding the homeless, and giving money to those in need will make the world a better place.”
Stacey Ree Wuthrich, born in Los Angeles, California, is the second daughter of late father, Rocky Anas Wuthrich Sr., an engineer and a physical therapist; and mother, Doris Ann Wuthrich, a nurse supervisor at LA County Sheriff’s Department/Department of Health Services. Both her parents are from the Visayas, the provinces of Iloilo and Capiz. Her older sister and younger brother are also both nurses.
Stacey graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing and works at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica.
“I define nursing not as a job,” she says, “but as a vocation.”
As an oncology nurse, her patients have taught her to live in simplicity, and to always help others regardless of the circumstances. As program chair of the Greater Los Angeles-Oncology Nursing Society, Stacey has assisted in preparing toy drives, donations, and has coordinated monthly events for more than 100 active members.
During her spare time, Kalayaan’s Binibini volunteers at the Glendale Incarnation Catholic Church as cantor and choir member during its Sunday Mass and as a nurse at retreats and church carnivals. She also assists in its outreach activities.
Aside from her love of singing, she enjoys hiking, dancing salsa, traveling, and, recently, flower arranging.
As a current regular American Red Cross disaster relief volunteer, Stacey extends her assistance from local emergencies to multi-state natural disasters. She went on a medical mission to Peru, in 2016, with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children. This upcoming October, she is scheduled to go on another mission trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Locally, she is involved with the homeless feeding program of the Midnight Mission in Skid Row Downtown Los Angeles.
She is passionate towards the underserved individuals whether it’s their health or finances and will effortlessly provide their needs with a smile. Since 2011, she has sponsored a child in the Philippines to provide necessities in life.
In 2014, Stacey received an award from the Philippine Children’s Charities, Inc. as one of the Outstanding Filipino Americans in the USA.
“My parents have always encouraged my siblings and me to grow in their faith, to be altruistic and to find ways to give back to the community,” Stacey stated.
In 2005, she joined a beauty pageant sponsored by Cebu Brotherhood, Inc. to benefit its humanitarian projects. She raised funds while sharing her talent and was crowned Miss Teen Philippines – USA 2005.
Mutya ng Kalayaan 2019
KI officials learned about our Mutya ng Kalayaan from personal accounts shared by her mother and her grandfather. At a young age, she learned that “two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward, so no matter how many issues arise in the future, no matter what dangers may pose a threat, as long as we keep going, we will be going forward.”
Samantha Babasa was born in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to a strong single mother, Pinky Babasa. Despite growing up without a father, she had many supporting father figures in her life like her grandfather, Redy Babasa, and his late husband, Thomas Thompson. Her mother and grandfather are both from Makati, Metro Manila.
“Being the youngest of three children,” said her mom, “Sam found it challenging at first to elicit her true talents. However, it soon became clear that her interests are in the medical field. When she began her freshman year at Palm Springs High School, Sam joined PALM Palm Springs Academy for Learning Medicine.
“Little did she know,” her mom added, “that this spark of interest would build into an undying passion for understanding the mechanisms of the human body on a deeper level. Joining the PALM Academy had opened her to many opportunities such as community service, sports medicine training, and internships. Knowing this, she strives to do as much community service when she’s available.”
During her sophomore year, Sam trained for months in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation techniques and is currently CPR certified by The American Red Cross. A junior in high school, she is taking her third year of Sports Medicine and has been accepted to be an intern at AVID Physical Therapy in Cathedral City, where she shadows Physical Therapists and learns how to identify patient’s conditions simply through observation, analyzation, and communication.
Aside from her medical practice, she frequently travels to Los Angeles to pursue her alternate passions – modeling, acting, and singing.
“She has been acting and singing since the ripe age of 5,” narrated her mom, “and she began modeling at 14. When she was in the fourth grade, she auditioned for her school’s production of Annie: The Musical, not expecting much from it as it would be her first play. Soon after, she was pleasantly surprised to find out that she had been cast as the lead role, Annie. This 10-month experience (September 2010 to June 2011) had thrilled her more so than anything else at this point in her life, so she decided to audition for Hansel and Gretel, the next year’s play,” Pinky added . “Another pleasant and perhaps even more surprising is the announcement she received: She had been cast as Hansel, a boy, and instead of having 10 months to memorize an entire play, she had only two days. Although taken aback at first, this new challenge acted as a shot of adrenaline for her and she spent the next two days after school with her head glued to her script. Sure enough, her diligence had worked and she had successfully memorized every single line expected of her. After taking a detour from acting in middle school, she was beatific to return to it again in high school. She decided to audition for Musical Theatre University in 2016, during her freshman year, where she would later become an alumnus.”
After a year of intensive singing, acting, and some dancing lessons, Sam successfully auditioned for high-profile modeling agencies like Wilhelmina and Ford Models, and after they chose her, she decided to sign in 2017 with Commercial Talent Agency and TWO Management.
In 2017, she had a job, promoting a new Instagram filter, and later in the year she was a runway model in Las Vegas, during Renee Salud’s Philippine Tapestry Fashion show where fabrics from various regions of the Philippines were tastefully exhibited in his pieces.
“And I’m very excited this year,” offered Sam, “to return as a runway model for Palm Springs’ very first Fashion Show in April.”
Switching to a Physical Therapist in training to a hard-working triple threat of sorts has proven to be difficult, according to grandpa Redy, but extremely worth the time.
“Her main goal is to continue to pursue her interests at hand no matter how many hardships she has to brave. With all of the support she has from her family and loving friends, she knows she can accomplish what she has set out to as long as she remains level-headed and wise. She is filled with pride to be able to represent any and all Filipinos because she grew to fall in love with her culture and will do her best to let it be known.”