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    6th Fleet Celebrates Diversity during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

    NAPLES, Italy – Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Headquarters held an Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month celebration for military and civilian personnel here May 19.

    Prepared and hosted by CNE-CNA/C6F's Multinational Heritage Committee, the event consisted of several Filipino dances and a speech about the importance of diversity.

    The event started with several children performing the Sakuting, a Filipino dance that illustrates a mock fight using sticks. After the dance, the children performed a Pandango sa Ilaw, or "candle dance," which consisted of a dancer balancing candles while they danced.

    "Most Filipino dances tell some kind of story," said Army Sgt. Mary Thomas, the children's dance teacher. "The Sakuting tells the story of the fight between the Ilocano Christians and the non-Christians during Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines, and the Pandango sa Ilaw shares the movement of the fireflies during the summer nights."

    "Seeing these dances during an event like this is a great opportunity to showcase my heritage to those who don't experience [Asian and Pacific] culture regularly," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Panelo, an informations systems technician and Sailor attached to CNE-CNA/C6F. "The Navy is so diverse; we have so many different groups of people, so many different cultures."

    The event's guest speaker was Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet.

    "I am thrilled to be standing before you, as a Japanese American, celebrating our heritage in this new age where diversity is embraced by a larger percent of our society than ever before," said Harris. "I believe [diversity] is exactly what makes our Navy the greatest in the world. It is what makes us stronger, our melting pot of America."

    Harris spoke about the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans in American history; from the arrival of the first Asian immigrants to the United States to the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans up to the present.

    "Imagine where our country would be if we had not overcome many of the prejudices that stunted our growth throughout the first two centuries of our existence," said Harris. "Embracing diversity is essential, not only for the good of the nation but for the benefit of our military services. That is why diversity is a mission essential tool in the armed forces."

    At the show's finale, the children performed Tinikling, which is the national dance of the Philippines. Tinikling consists of two dancers hitting parallel bamboo poles against each other in a rhythm while two more dancers hop over and outside the poles.

    "I am very proud of the job the kids did with the dances," said Thomas. "They are a very diverse group themselves with kids of every ethnicity participating. And the way that they performed and the way they represented my heritage, I couldn't be prouder."

    Asian-Pacific Heritage Month initially started as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week before President George H. W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.19.2010
    Date Posted: 05.20.2010 09:27
    Story ID: 50001
    Location: NAPLES, IT 

    Web Views: 138
    Downloads: 128

    PUBLIC DOMAIN