Madison Avenue parade is on! Amb. Mario de Leon Jr. is honorary Grand Marshal

red line

Ambassador Mario de Leon Jr. is the new Honorary Grand Marshal: A ‘stature-driven role.’

Ambassador Mario de Leon Jr. is the new Honorary Grand Marshal: A ‘stature-driven role.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

The February 23 meeting between the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. and the community was a running tally of hits and misses:


• PIDCI announced that former Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. is going to be the Honorary Grand Marshal, a new role in the organization’s 28-year history.

• PIDCI also announced that Dr. Restituto Estacio from Philadelphia has agreed to be the Grand Marshal.

• PIDCI received “high marks” from the Manhattan community board for its conduct of food handling during the street fair.

• Diwa ng Kalayaan has four candidates and three more are expected to participate.


• PIDCI reported a deficit during the period October 2016 to September 2017: $22,148 in assets and liabilities, and $6,584 in income and revenues.

• The community meeting at the Philippine Center’s Kalayaan Hall had a record low attendance of about 30 people.

• Proxy voting will not be eliminated, but in the review of bylaws, there is a proposal to limit proxies only to members of the organization.

“We are moving forward, we’re having a parade,” PIDCI President Ner Martinez underscored at the meeting.

The near-empty Kalayaan Hall. The FilAm photo

The near-empty Kalayaan Hall. The FilAm photo

About 30 people showed up in a room filled with mostly empty stacking chairs. The FilAm learned that PIDCI was expecting about 150 members of the community to show up, the first community get-together since the new officers and board members were elected in October.

The speakers and officers addressed the elephant in the room: the December lawsuit filed by two organizations — United Mindoro International, Inc. and the Philippine Community Center Services for Aging. The two groups brought a case against PIDCI before the Supreme Court of New York in the interest, they asserted, of transparency and accountability. They are asking a disclosure of annual reports from 2013 to 2016; opening of the financial books and records; nullification of the results of the October 2017 elections marred by instances of proxy voting.

“This is divisive and very hurtful,” Martinez shared with reporters after the meeting. He expressed the hope that the lawsuit will be resolved before the June parade and that the community can move forward as before.

Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega reiterated the support of the Philippine Consulate. She noted how the last few months have been a “difficult period” for PIDCI. At the same time, she hoped that the time was devoted to some “soul searching” and having everyone’s voices heard in the interest of transparency.

She said PIDCI has committed to doing its best to get the community to move forward. Whatever shape or form, the parade assumes, Dizon-De Vega stressed, the consulate “will support it.”

Amb. De Leon said he is “honored” to be at the forefront of the June parade together with the “reputable and respected” community leader Dr. Resty Estacio.

“There comes a time when one should work for the common good and help uphold a lofty cultural tradition of the Filipino community,” he said in a statement to The FilAm.

Martinez explained to reporters the difference between a Grand Marshal and an Honorary Grand Marshal. He said the Honorary Grand Marshal is a “stature-driven” role usually assigned to individuals with prestige and respectability. He said Ambassador de Leon was excited to be the first Honorary GM when invited.

The traditional Grand Marshal, Martinez further explained, is a symbolic title. He said Dr. Estacio was enthused about his participation in this year’s Independence Day Parade.

“He will be a fun GM,” said Dizon-De Vega. “He is part of the senior community (of Philadelphia) but he is a very active senior and a wonderful human being.”

“PIDCI is not a perfect organization,” said Martinez, “but we are trying to mold it into a better organization.”

© The FilAm 2018

PIDCI President Ner Martinez; Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega. Photos by Lambert Parong/FAPCNY

PIDCI President Ner Martinez; Consul General Tess Dizon-De Vega. Photos by Lambert Parong/FAPCNY

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: