Janet and Ruben Nepales cited for achievements in Journalism
By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – “We have to spotlight our Filipinos. For who else will? We need to continue writing about women of color, the minority, the LGBTQ,” said honoree Janet Susan Rodriguez Nepales during the glamorous Unity Gala as she accepted her citation by the Filipino community at the posh Cipriani 42nd Street. Nepales is executive secretary of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a high position first held by a Filipina. Her husband, Ruben V. Nepales, was an honoree too. In 2012, he was elected chair of the Board of Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the first Filipino to have occupied the position.
The Nepales couple are trail-blazers in the international arena for journalism. They wrote and co-edited the book “Hollywood Foreign Press Association: A History (75 Years of Golden Globe Awards)”, and garnered several awards for their journalistic work.
Ruben’s first book, “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood” (Anvil Publishing), won the print journalism book category of the Migration Advocacy and Media Awards in 2012 by the Office of the President of the Philippines’ Commission on Filipino Overseas.
An equally luminous figure in the field of performing arts introduced Ruben and Janet to about 300 well-dressed audience, Jon Jon Briones, best known as The Engineer in Miss Saigon. He said that Janet and Ruben “were always supportive of him in his acting career in the US and London.”
Briones was nominated for Best Actor in his performance in Miss Saigon at the London West End and on Broadway in New York. In 2018, he played Modesto Cunanan, father of Andrew Cunanan, in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
The Unity Gala was hosted by award-winning Filipino journalist Nina Pineda and Sandra Bookman, who are good friends and both with the WABC-TV in New York. The black tie event was part of the Explore Islands Philippines tourism and business exhibition on May 9-12, 2018.
Put together by the Friends of the Philippine Society USA, led by Jerry Sibal, Edwin Josue, and Miguel Bautista, the Unity Gala featured the fashion collections of Rocky Gathercole and Philippine fashion ambassador Renee Salud. Gathercole is about avant-garde, edgy fashion whose creations are worn by Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry.
Salud is known for his magical creations that transform Philippine indigenous fabrics into classy and stunning collection of gowns and formal ensemble. Asked what is her inspiration for the exquisitely designed clothes, she said, “every person is unique, and I fit my design based on each personality. I go with the times too, to be upbeat and modern,” she said.
A special guest and advocate, HRH Princess Katarina de Silva of Yugoslavia and Serbia said she was amazed and is fully supportive of the Friends of the Philippine Society’s diversity and multiculturalism effort. She donned a gold and green butterfly sleeved Filipiniana as a sign of solidarity. Princess Katarina is the president of the Guild of Travel and Tourism of UK.
Its innovative and visionary leaders Edwin, Jerry, and Miguel are bent on making the Society a platform for “acceptance and accord, optimism and harmony, and enjoyment and success.” For a first, the Unity Gala was highly successful and genuinely glamorous. (Featured photo: Nina Pineda (middle) with Janet and Ruben Nepales at the Unity Gala)