PIDCI addresses controversial issues, including Independence Day parade cost of $280K

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. (center) is joined at the panel by PIDCI President  Fe Martinez and Grand Marshal Reuben Seguritan. The FilAm photos

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. (center) is joined at the panel by PIDCI President Fe Martinez and Grand Marshal Reuben Seguritan. The FilAm photos

By Cristina DC Pastor

The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) laid bare the logistics of organizing the annual Madison Avenue parade, billed as biggest annual gathering in June of Filipinos outside of the Philippines.

Last year’s parade had a budget of $280,000, disclosed PIDCI President Fe Martinez during the “ConGen Hour,” a collaborative forum between the Philippine Consulate and the Fil-Am Press Club of New York.

(This year’s parade will be held on June 7.)

Of that amount, Martinez said $10,000 was donated to typhoon rehabilitation efforts. Another $23,000 was handed over to the Philippine Red Cross, following a fundraising campaign graced by Miss World 2013 Megan Young.

“The parade permit alone is $23,000,” said Martinez, who is serving her fourth term as president of the organization.

PIDCI, the largest Filipino non-profit organization in New York, is perceived by many in the community as “controversial” and “mysterious.” Up until the ConGen Hour of June 2, it has never opened up about its financial statement, its leadership structure, and the logistics that goes into organizing a massive annual Independence Day parade that brings in at least 100,000 people to Madison Avenue.

The Philippine Consulate is PIDCI’s honorary adviser.

According to Martinez, the biggest bulk of the budget typically goes to the permit paid to City Hall, the floats, and the marching bands. The floats are anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the decorations. “If they use a lot of fresh flowers, the cost could go up,” she said.

The marching bands, which used to cost $500 to $700, are now charging $2,000, she added.

For this year’s parade with the theme promoting “awareness on climate change,” PIDCI expects the participation of about 90 community organizations, 12 floats, 10 marching bands and more, for a total of 140 contingents. Each contingent, according to board member Antero Martinez (no relation to Fe Martinez), has about 100 to 300 marchers.

“Organizing the parade is a monstrous task,” said lawyer Reuben Seguritan, who is this year’s parade Grand Marshal.

As Grand Marshal, he said his responsibilities involve a great deal of fundraising. This year, he has been involved in the Grand Marshal Gala by inviting guests who are assigned as Patrons, Sponsors or Benefactors depending on the amount of their support.

There is also the Kalayaan pageants, which are organized to raise awareness about the parade. PIDCI explained the Diwa ng Kalayaan is an honest-to-goodness search for a brains-and-beauty Filipina American who will epitomize the objectives of PIDCI. However, the Mrs. Kalayaan pageant, according to Fe Martinez, is more of a popularity contest, where participants are expected to sell tickets. Both winners will get to ride a float during the parade.

Martinez said PIDCI has gone through some rough patches when it lost a lot of sponsors and were behind in payments to certain vendors, such as the printing press. But under her term, the parade has continued to grow in participants, she said. She is grateful to Philippine Airlines for offering this year to shoulder the cost of flying in musical performers from the Philippines, such as actor Xian Lim and jazz vocalist Kevyn Lettau.

PIDCI also opened up about certain issues that continue to beset the 25-year organization.

On the election of Martinez for a fourth term, legal adviser Manuel Quintal said Martinez was first elected for a two-year term under the organization’s old Constitution and Bylaws. He disclosed the constitution was amended in 2013 to allow her to seek another two-year term.

On its closely guarded financial statements, treasurer Violeta Manarang-McGough said the books are open to the public through the Guidestar website and also through a Treasurer’s Report read before the election. She said PIDCI would not be able to get a permit to raise funds as a non-profit without presenting a legitimate financial statement.

PIDCI was also represented by board members Albert Diala, Nonoy Rafael and Tambi Wycoco during the forum.

Consul General de Leon said organizing a parade is indeed an “arduous task” put together year after year by a hardworking group of board members who are actually unpaid volunteers.

“Let’s look at what they’re doing within that context,” he said.

He said the ConGen Hour featuring the top officers of PIDCI was “just the beginning of a dialogue” between PIDCI and the FilAm community.

“There is a lot of candor, and a lot of transparency,” he said. Whatever the issues in the community are, De Leon stressed, “They should be addressed first in a dialogue.”

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. (center) is joined at the panel by PIDCI President  Fe Martinez and Grand Marshal Reuben Seguritan. The FilAm photos PIDCI board members (from left): Violeta Manarang-McGough, Nonoy Rafael, legal adviser Manuel Quintal, and Antero Martinez

PIDCI board members (from left): Violeta Manarang-McGough, Nonoy Rafael, legal adviser Manuel Quintal, and Antero Martinez

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One Comment

  1. Art Silva wrote:

    NY`s Independence Day Parade celebrating the Philippines` National Day is the largest in the world, larger even than that celebrated in the Philippines. With a budget of $280K one would assume the parade will at least tell the story of the central focus of Philippine Independence Day: The June 12,1898 document which was signed by 98 Filipinos, officially declaring war against Western Imperialism and served as the foundational text of Asia`s first constitutional republic. Would there be any floats showcasing the *Camelot of the Philippines*- that short-lived Republic and Golden Age when we were led by a 29-year old president and governed by a congress that belongs to the Generation of 1898, the greatest generation of Filipinos? Or will it be the usual celebrities with selfies? Placing on a pedestal commerce more than culture?

    Are we rendering invisible once again the two Golden Ages of the Philippines: the 600 years of Indianized Kingdoms (900 AD-1565) and Asia`s first War of Independence and Constitutional Republic? A Grand Parade with a budget of $280,000.00 that does not include either or both of the themes previously mentioned will only perpetuate our subjugation and stigma of shame. What will be the message we are broadcasting to the world if we cannot even tell our story through the eyes of our ancestral Kings and Queens, as well as our Founding Fathers; instead share our story through the gaze of our subjugators?

    The purpose of any national day is to reveal our capacity as a people to dream big dreams and achieve it. Because it is in dreaming do we increase our capacity to love – a love fierce and invincible. This kind of love can only be revealed most effectively through our nation`s Golden Ages when we called the shots-and that is the kind of selfless love- pure, fierce and invincible that can break barriers and all Americans and the world can identify with.

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