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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Orlando Valentin kept culture alive

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Orlando and Pat Valentin were successful business owners and entertainers in the days when many Filipinos were struggling for respect in Hawai'i'.

Entertainers Orlando and Pat Valentin helped promote Filipino culture.

Advertiser library photo

The duo founded Pearl of the Orient Dance Co. in 1960 as a family venture and performed regularly in Waikiki for years.

The Valentins also performed at many festivals and instilled cultural and ethnic pride in generations of Filipinos.

Orlando Valentin, retired director of the dance company, died Friday in Honolulu. He was 80.

Roland Casamina, president of the Filipino Community Center and House of Finance, said Pearl of the Orient gave local Filipinos something to be proud about.

"In those days the majority of the Filipinos were still the laborers, the plantation workers, janitors," Casamina said. "For us to have an organized show like this showcasing our culture in the middle of Waikiki strip, we were very proud. It was really an accomplishment."

Valentin was born in the Philippines Aug. 19, 1921, and his family moved to Hawai'i when he was 3. He graduated from McKinley High School and attended the University of Hawai'i and the University of the Philippines.

Orlando and Priscilla "Pat" Valentin married in 1947. The couple had three daughters, all of whom played integral roles in the formation of Pearl of the Orient.

Pat Valentin taught the girls the tinikling (bamboo) dance and the children captured first place in a dance contest. After a visit by the renowned Bayanihan Philippine Dance Co. to Hawai'i, Pat Valentin decided to go to the Philippines and do research in dance.

The original Pearl of the Orient consisted of the girls and immediate family members. Orlando Valentin was master of ceremonies at all performances.

In 1961, the year-old folk dance troupe began a regular "A Night in the Philippines" show in the Monarch Room of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. That gig lasted for more than 10 years.

"Normally if you have a show, it's one or two weeks. But this is in years," Casamina said. "Obviously the reason was it's authenticity and professionalism that they presented."

Pat Valentin said her husband at first hesitated at being part of the performances. But she said if he didn't agree to being the emcee that the show would not have gone on.

"I told him that was the deal. I would not do it any other way," she said. "He started out very slow. He was very, very shy. His mother couldn't even make him dance."

Regina Gonzalez said her father was a very understanding and loving man.

"He was very understanding and patient because his women in his family life were very demanding women," she said. "He had three of us plus my mother and he loved all of us equally and unconditionally."

The Valentins retired from the troupe in 1991, but remained active as directors and consultants. In 1993, the two were honored by Manila's Mayor Jose Atienza with the Cultural Nationalism Award.

Valentin is survived by his wife, Priscilla "Pat"; daughters, Regina Gonzalez, Charlene Botello and Rolanda Reese; three grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and his brother Adelino.

Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at Borthwick Mortuary; Mass is at 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral. Burial is at 3 p.m. at Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery.