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Our Executive Staff

Creative Direction, Leadership, Education

Our Executive Staff

Anamaria Labao Cabato - Executive Director

FFMs. Cabato has been with PASACAT since its inception in 1970. She was a dancer, musician and vocalist through 1983 and is currently the Executive Director. She received a B.S. in Business Administration, emphasis on Accounting from San Diego State University.

Being born of immigrant Philippine nationals, Ms. Cabato’s experience with Philippine dance enabled her to discover her cultural identity. This further developed her appreciation for the arts in general and thus become an advocate for the arts and the promotion of Philippine dance and music to other second-generation Filipino-Americans.

She was honored by Women Together, November, 1998 & 1996She is a 1996 California Arts Council/Coro Southern California Arts Leadership Fellow; given the KFMB-TV 8 Cares Award, April 1993; featured in April 1993 in the Southern Cross (Catholic) newspaper; and as the 1990 Ladies of Elegance Award-Field of Education from the Maria Clara de Filipinas Sorority. Her work was featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune, in June 1996, for “Filipino role model shortage” and in September 1990 “Preserving Cultures-dancer’s dream comes true in Filipino troupe.”

A recognized leader, she has served as chairperson of the Diocesan Commission for Filipino Catholics, member of the City of San Diego’s Cultural Diversity Committee and board member of the San Diego Area Dance Alliance. She is proud of her heritage and faith and shares her musical gifts as co-director of the St. Rita’s Folk Choir where she also is a Minister of the Eucharist, and secretary of the parish Finance Council. In October 2003, she was selected to serve on the Diversity Initiative Steering Committee for the City of San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture.

Ms. Cabato is a founding partner in VOCAL (Voices of Community at All Levels), an 18 member network of cultural groups facilitated by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. She is also a community member on the Center for Community & Cultural Arts Guide Team, a dynamic bridge that connects Southeastern  San Diego and Balboa Park.

Her vast experience, integrity and professionalism as an arts administrator, coupled with a positive personality, have given her high regard and praise in the San Diego arts community.

Joji Ramirez Castro - Choreographer & Dance Director

Before moving to San Diego in 1985, Joji was no stranger to San Diego. As a former member of the world famous Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, she was a member of the international touring group. She performed in two world tours of which San Diego was on the itinerary and many short tours to Asia and Europe. She joined Bayanihan in 1972 and was trained under Lucretia Urtula. Joji became a lead dancer performing the rapid Tinikling and daring Vinta. She became a junior staff member and was responsible for training prospective Bayanihan dancers. Most inspirational was assisting Ms. Urtula on field research studies of rituals of northern Luzon tribes.

Charming Joji, joined the PASACAT staff in 1986 as a dancer. The increasing interest in Philippine dance for children steered PASACAT to create its Junior Dance component hiring Joji as its director. She started with 8 students, and today has 50 junior students. In 1990, Joji became the Artistic Director for the Senior Company. Joji’s arts direction in the ’92 Summer Extravaganza, garnered rave reviews from Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union Tribune dance critic, describing PASACAT as “a touring professional company …. with young and fresh, skilled and well drilled dancers.” Eileen Sondak, San Diego Union Tribune, describes PASACAT’s ‘94 Extravaganza choreography as a “total visual delight.” Jennifer Poyen, San Diego Unioin-Tribune, dance critic, experienced the “joyful (1998) Extravaganza,” with the “smooth, fast-paced choreography.”

In a rare feature of Philippine dance, CNN International featured PASACAT on Inside Asia, February, 1996. The 6-minute segment of PASACAT’s 1994 Extravaganza and an interview with Joji provided information on the importance of Philippine dance in the United States. The segment aired four times in 226 countries.

Joji is respected by many of her peers in the United States and the Philippines. She continues to share her knowledge and has served as a consultant to Bayanihan alumni throughout the country. She is a former resident artist for the San Diego Institute for Arts Education. Joji holds Bachelor of Arts degree in Pilipino Studies from Philippine Women’s University.

Matthew Padrigan PASACAT Assistant Choreographer
Matthew Padrigan - Associate Choreographer

Matthew began his dancing career at the age of ten years old in 2000 where he joined PASACAT as a Junior Dancer under the instruction of Joji Ramirez Castro. He began apprenticing as a Company dancer in 2004 and began teaching Junior dancers in 2006. During his enrollment at Montgomery Senior High, and President of the Ugnayan Philippine Cultural Club, Matthew and Salvacion DeVera, Filipino teacher and club advisor, put together a Showcase of Philippine Fold Dance done by members of the Ugnayan Club.

 For five consecutive years, he has successfully put together an annual Showcase performance for the Montgomery High School students and community, resulting in a successful production recognizable among Foreign Language Teachers throughout the Sweetwater Union High School District of San Diego. A student at San Diego State University, Matthew still continues to return to ignite the flame of Philippine pride in high school youths today. It is passion and appreciation of Asian arts that has driven Matthew to recreate images of Philippine folk culture through expressive stores of Philippine history.

Gemma Cabato Dance Master PASACAT
Gemma Cabato - Dance Master

A company member of fourteen years, Gemma trained under Joji Ramirez Castro as a Junior PASACAT dancer since 1990. She became a dance assistant for the Junior Dancers and eventually for the Company dancers. Gemma had the honor of performing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines with PASACAT in 2002 for the Bayanihan National Philippine Folk Dance Company’s 45th anniversary, and also took workshops with the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group. It was during that first visit to the Philippines that propelled Gemma’s endeavor to perfect her craft as a Philippine folk dancer. It is through her leadership skills as a Dancer Master that she strives to encourage the involvement of youth activity in our Philippine community. It is through the spirit of “Bayanihan” that Gemma hopes the youth of PASACAT continue the legacy to love, protect and promote the passion for our rich, beautiful and very diverse culture.

Alex Castro Dance Master PASACAT
Alex Castro - Dance Master

Alex is one of PASACAT’s consummate artists. He began his time with PASACAT in 1993 as a Junior dancer, under the instruction of Joji Ramirez Castro. Within these formative years as a junior dancer, Alex was able to absorb many musical traditions of the Philippines. Apart from traditional dance, Alex was Junior Rondalla member, where he had gained a keen skill in the 14-string bandurria. In addition, Jonathan Tajuna, a former student of renowned Kulingtanggan master Guro Danny Kalanduyan, was able to pass on his Kulintanggan knowledge onto Alex, where he has amassed a substantial repertoire of Mindanaoan music. As a well-rounded artist and member of the Artistic Staff, Alex has contributed to PASACAT productions as a dancer, percussionist and member of Rondalla. PASACAT considers Alex a valued asset, as he continues to be a part of the organization’s history of excellence.