By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – Maria Theresa Dizon de Vega ends her post as Consul General of New York this March, International Women’s Month to become undersecretary for the foreign affairs department in the Philippines, a promotion so well-deserved and leaves behind a vacuum of ego-free, enabling and innovative leadership in the East Coast.
The appreciation dinner tendered last night, February 28, by the Philippine Consulate was so Tess De Vega: energetic and festive in Philippine fiesta motif. Colorful buntings cris-crossed the elegant Kalayaan Hall and several bunches of balloons aptly created an ambiance of saying goodbye gleefully, so one could just conceal the miss-you part quietly.
There was music from the Beatles, courtesy of the Band of Brothers, which was electric. I danced a good plenty of minutes along with a couple of ladies to include Helen Kwong and friends I rarely see – Marian and Aileen Reyes. In the early hours of the three-hour party, the Kalayaan was already filled to its capacity.
I missed seeing the powerful photojournalist Cesar Loverita decapitate the pinata with one mighty strike, sending a lot of adults to quickly pick up goodies on the floor, just like small children do. I missed the barbecue dinner as well. But the early part of the party with hellos, besos, and selfies were worth skipping class for a good 45 minutes just to feel the love that night.
ConGen Tess may have one of the shortest stints as Consul General in New York, one year and five months, but it surely was an engaging and a compact one. She told attendees that the Consulate is proud of the vigor and achievements of the Philippine community. To me, we are proud to be blessed with an upbeat woman leader at the helm of community affairs.
Steven Raga presented the ConGen with a proclamation of commendation from the office of Assemblyman Brian Barnwell. Aries dela Cruz did the same on behalf of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. The teachers group UNIFFIED, led by Ronie Mataquel and Lumen Castaneda, and TOFA, led by Elton Lugay, presented to her plaques of appreciation. (Featured photo by Lambert Parong; other photos from Edmund Mercado, Boyet Loverita, and Alice Soriano)