By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The FilAm Press Club of New York marked its 7th year with great food, glitzy guests, winning essayists, and the vow to continue protecting press freedom on November 16, 2018, a day after the city was battered by a freaky autumnal snowstorm.
Patikim (taste) was an all-time high cocktail party fully sponsored by nine Filipino restaurants and caterers at the Philippine Center lobby on 5th Avenue. Clearly, the exciting part of the night was the declaration and awarding of winners of its first essay writing contest on the Filipino American History Month, the fabulously dressed guests, and the no holds barred speeches on press freedom.
Subscribing to a glitzy dress code, the cocktail party tweaked a blockbuster film into ‘Just crazy but not that rich Asians.’ The up-dressing was meant to perk up an otherwise heavy theme of press freedom as a cornerstone of democracy, ably tackled by Consul General Claro Cristobal and Prof. Luis Francia. Cristobal, who was installed as Consul General just this summer, emphasized the need to protect press freedom for the pursuit of truth. Francia, a Hunter College professor and Philippine historian/novelist, did an indepth, outstanding speech on the state of media in the Philippines and the US. He emphasized the importance of press freedom for the people’s right to know.
More than 100 guests attended the party which started on time. Broadway singer Cutuy Herrero and newly discovered talent Carla Angeline perked up the show along with the music of DJ Ernie and Marilou Bugarin. Patikim was the first community party fully supported by nine Filipino entrepreneurs with their popular signature dishes.
This writer, who dabbles as president of the FAPCNY, had sought for only one dish from each restaurant, but most of them ended up donating more than one dish. The cocktail party turned out to be a gastronomic feast, thanks to Carol Restaurant, Victory Chicken, Ugly Kitchen, Herb-a-Base, Mountain Province, Elena’s Kitchen, Flipeats, Popsie’s and Kabisera Kape. Herb-a-Base’s goat cheese wrap was to die for, Kabisera Kape’s ube cupcake was swooped so fast, Carol’s Restaurant’s meatballs were heavenly, and the potota gratin of Flipeats was a delightful surprise.
Seeing that the media party was a platform for business and goodwill, the nine caterers were on board early on. The good Consul General Cristobal approached me at the party and asked, really they all agreed to donate? I replied on the affirmative, we promised to pay for delivery cost and media mileage, ConGen.
I whispered to VP Cristina DC Pastor about how the ConGen was amazed at the generosity of the nine restaurants, and she replied, “Now the ConGen knows you’re a hustler.” And we burst laughing.
The party raged on through the cold night and the brand of cool under pressure is evident in party committee chaired by Lindy Rosales with teammates Grace Hufano Labaguis and Cristina DC Pastor.
And this goes well with Muriel GI, editor of Pinas USA, and Felix Manuel queen of queens of Philippine Star who were at the registration table. Notable fundraiser Myrna De Guia-Gutierrez raised money from raffle tickets more than enough to pay for our space rent!
The most inspiring thing at the party was the emergence of 12 budding writers in the community who participated in the 1st FilAm History Month Essay Writing Contest. Project chair Pastor said that it came as a surprise that on the last two days of the one-month campaign, the entries reached a dozen.
The FAPCNY Board had picked up the top five essayists to be awarded: Marq Lungayan, the youngest of the contestants was fifth, followed by Shea Formanes, Carlos Ceballos, Jeanne Jalandoni, and Jessica Jacolbe, the first champion. The winners received trophies and medals and cash prizes courtesy of Atty. Lara Gregory ($200), Fernando Mendez ($300), Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis ($500), and Qudos for the 4th and 5th prizes.
Fifth placer Lungayan said he was happy to have made it to the top 5 and plans to join again next year. Derick Hidalgo, who received the certificate of appreciation on behalf of his daughter Feih, said the essay writing contest was a great opportunity for his daughter to share her thoughts as a Filipino-American. “I think next year, the essay writing contest should grow much bigger,” he made an encouraging note.
FAPCNY intends to make the essay writing contest, a brain child of Pastor, an October tradition.
Toward the end of the night, the FAPCNY Board chose the most fabulously dressed guests who were given prize tickets to a jazz concert of Dr. Kevin at the Sheraton Flushing. Glamour couple Fernando Mendez and Laura Garcia was the popular pick among journos.
Great supporter Philippine Airlines raffled out a free round-trip ticket from JFK to Manila which the jetsetter Melissa Alviar had won. Her reaction was an electrifying way to bring the party to a close. “I have never flown on PAL. I won, I won. Excited to go home soon,” she roared. (Featured photo: DJ Chinita of Kabisera Kape serves our guests with her ube cupcake; the fabulous centerpiece is courtesy of Vince Guesmundo to VNZ Entertainment)