Ruffy Ronas: Here’s looking at you, Staten Island

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‘I want my children to be proud of me.’

‘I want my children to be proud of me.’

By Cristina DC Pastor

Before I got to know him, freelance photographer Ruffy Ronas was just another face in the crowd. He is always ready with a smile, a tap on the shoulder, a polite hug. Because of his height and soldier’s chest he stands out. With his James Stewart haircut, he appears like someone born in much earlier era. Actually, he is only in his 40s.

Ruffy is a Customer Experience Coordinator at Marshalls in Staten Island, a supervisory position that deals with unhappy department store customers. After work, he immerses himself in events around the FilAm community, helping organizations however he can. He has photographed events or served as parade marshal and has received awards for his efforts. Local leaders and community organizations, such as County Executive James Tedesco of Bergen County and PAFCOM, have given him certificates recognizing his support.

“I want my children to be proud of me at least through these awards,” he said.

On top of that, he runs Kalye Solution Advertising, a marketing company he founded in the Philippines and resurrected when he came to New York in 2015. Kalye Solution engages in digital media advertising for “maximum exposure” for products and services without geographical boundary limits.

He said, “Our purpose is to deliver efficient and quality advertisement to customers. The increase in visibility through campaign optimization would boost their business potentials.”

Ruffy was a sales manager at Nissan when he founded Kalye Solution. In that role, he found a way to form a network of automobile dealerships that wanted to advertise digitally. Just a network of dealers, he modestly stressed, not the corporations.

Saying his wild days are over, Ruffy’s energy now pivots toward Staten Island where he lives with his mother Baby Schiff, a church leader, and some siblings.

“I would like to see the Filipino community of Staten united,” he said in an interview with The FilAm.

The oldest of four siblings, all of whom are nurses – and whose spouses are also nurses — Ruffy would like to be the ‘kuya’ his siblings can be proud of. That’s why when he came to the U.S. with only a sales and marketing background, he tried his hand at all sorts of trades. He worked as a carpenter, studied ESL in a New Jersey school, learned photography, and through his brother became a distributor of a Filipino TV channel.

Over at Staten Island, he has mounted concerts and other events, he hoped would get the community closer. The first in a very long time, according to him, that Filipinos here — numbering anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 — have seen a grassroots concert.

Ruffy is setting his sights on a Filipino cultural festival in September. Staten Island may be the ‘forgotten borough’ to some, but not to FilAms, like Ruffy, who calls it his welcoming home.

© The FilAm 2018

Sought-after photographer and community volunteer.

Sought-after photographer and community volunteer.

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