By Marivir R. Montebon
(Republished from the FAPCNY Playbill)
The Birth of the Filipino American Press Club of New York
Ten years ago, what was just a usual fun post-coverage conversation among Filipino journalists at a Filipino restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey, turned into what is now known as the birth of the Fil-Am Press Club of New York.
On September 1, 2011, local Filipino journalists including Lito Gajilan, Mayet Alejandro Santiago, Don Tagala, Momar Visaya, Grace Labaguis, Cristina DC Pastor, Lenn Almadin-Thornhill, Monette Rivera, Randy Rivera, Elton Lugay, and Butch Gata hatched the idea of forming a press club. Thus, on that day, the FilAm Press Club New York was conceived – and instantaneously born.
The club’s founding president was Butch Gata with Monette Rivera as vice president and Tambi Wycoco as secretary.
One decade later, the Fil-Am Press Club of New York (FAPCNY) continues to be a vibrant community of working Filipino American journalists and communication professionals in the New York tri-state area. The club provides a platform to address public issues and concerns as well as advance the profession of Filipino American journalists.
FAPCNY consistently stood committed to its mission of being a professional organization for Fil-Am journalists that promotes accuracy, truth, and ethics.
It’s a non-partisan and non-political organization. FAPCNY’s 501 C3 status is pending.
Multimedia journalist Don Tagala of ABS-CBN currently serves as president for a two-year term (2020 & 2021). Current board of directors include – Grace Labaguis, vice president; Marilyn Abalos, secretary and treasurer, and Board members: Momar Visaya, Lambert Parong, Ted Reyes, Richard Rillera, and Marivir Montebon as past president.
In 2013, the set of officers of FAPCNY was inducted into office by Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. at the Philippine Center. Former President Fidel Ramos was in happy attendance.
Monette Rivera of ABS-CBN’s Adobo Nation program was the club’s second president. In her team were Momar Visaya as vice president and Tambi Wycoco as secretary/treasurer.
Richard Rillera of the Philippine Daily Mirror was elected president for 2017 and 2018, along with vice president Cristina DC Pastor of The FilAm Magazine and Makilala TV, secretary Grace Labaguis, consultant for GMA International, and Momar Visaya of Asian Journal as treasurer.
After Rillera’s term, Marivir Montebon was elected president for 2019 and 2020. Cristina DC Pastor was vice president, Grace Labaguis was elected secretary, Lindy Rosales, a freelance writer for The FilAm magazine, was treasurer.
Shining thru the Pandemic
Even during the early dark days of the pandemic, members of the press club continued to do their duty of covering events with utmost self-care and bravery in 2020. But with city-wide and state-wide lockdowns, in-person meetings and get togethers were nearly impossible — so FAPCNY members shifted to virtual get togethers and Zoom interviews for work.
Sixteen months into the pandemic, there was a shared proud moment when current president Don Tagala won a community reporting award from the New York Press Club for his special report on health frontliners in 2021. Titled, “Filipino ‘Superheroes’ at the Frontlines of COVID-19 Wear Scrubs, Not Capes,” the award was a sparkling addition to his journalism awards.
It was also a proud moment for the Filipino American community as a Filipino owned news outlet placed among mainstream media giants like The New York Times, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, Time, Bloomberg News, Politico, and others.
The Fil-Am Press Club of New York also received a citation from a New York public office on October 17, 2017.
NY State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell of District 30 cited FAPCNY as the first organization honored during the celebration of the 2017 Fil-Am History Month.
On June 11, 2019, then FAPCNY president Marivir Montebon was given a citation of honor by Queens Borough president Melinda Katz to commemorate the 121st celebration of Philippine Independence. The citations were put together by the office of the Queens Borough president and the Foundation for Filipino Artists (FFAI).
In the meeting, FAPCNY members agreed to continue its programs for professional development and journalism scholarship to remain steadfast in always standing for truth and objectivity. #
(Featured photo: Roster of the current members of the press club. Right photo – press conference with FilAm journalist Maria Ressa in NYC in the spring of 2019.)