By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Members of the Fil-Am Press Club of New York yesterday did an unusual thing: organized a huge community cocktail party to celebrate its sixth anniversary and also to launch its Journalism scholarship program.
Chaired by Grace Labaguis of GMA Pinoy TV, the debut event proved to be a success, with about 150 guests: community leaders, family, and friends. Jen Furer of Makilala TV and Noel Pangilinan of the Asian American Writers Workshop hosted the event which packed the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.
The evening mood was elegant because of the piano music by David James Estioco, the sultry singer Angel Ram who sang Unforgettable, and upbeat young singer Kirby Asunto who rendered New York, New York!
Aside from the amazing performance of New York-grown talent, the food, catered by Chester Media of Essential Creative Catering Concept, was to die for.
Amb. Mario Lopez de Leon Jr., formerly Consul General of New York keynoted the event and said: “FAPCNY has been an active partner of the Consulate, not only in helping circulate the news that matter to and concern the community. But more so in helping convey our key messages when I was then the Consul General: That is elevating the profile of Filipinos in the US; enhancing awareness about the Philippines and Filipinos in whatever we do; and encouraging Filipino American to assume positions of leadership in their local community, workplace and the broader US society. You have been our de-facto” interlocutor” as I have said before,” said De Leon who is recently retired from government service.
There are currently 29 members of the FAPCNY led by Pres. Ricky Rillera of the Philippine Daily Mirror. The club was organized in 2011 in a local Filipino chicken restaurant in Jersey City. Additional members are in the pipeline before the year ends.
Consul General Tess Dizon de Vega, who said she could have chosen to take up journalism in college, encouraged the members of the press during her welcome remarks, to continuously do their job of public information as the best way to guide them for an informed decision-making.
The FAPCNY recently received a Proclamation citation by the State Assembly of New York for its exemplary work of community journalism, through the office of Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, in celebration of the Fil-Am History month.
With the theme: “Celebrating the people who report the news”, FAPCNY made it certain that press freedom and responsibility won’t go away in this era of digital technology and proliferation of fake news.
During the event, two new members were inducted into the club: Muriel Iturralde, editor of Pinas USA magazine, and Mona Lunot Kuker, an artist and social commentary blogger for OSM! online magazine.
Major sponsors that helped the event and scholarship program were the Reginald Lewis Foundation, Philippine Airlines, Ria Money Transfer, Filipino Reporter, Express, Glossy Skinnovation, Hermilo F. Echavez, Mr. Nanding Mendez, Babata New York, Magic Melt, Vivian T. Cruz, Queens Asian Fest, Synergy Production and Marketing, Ugly Kitchen, Kuma Inn, Dr. Marissa Santos, Halo Halo Production, GMA Pinoy TV, OSM! online magazine, and Bhes Friends. (Photos by Marivir Montebon, Helen Kwong, and Felix Manuel)