Ned and Menchie Pulido are Madison Ave. parade Grand Marshals

Doctor Ned and RN Menchie Pulido: Pillars of the community. Photos by Boyet Loverita

Doctor Ned and RN Menchie Pulido: Pillars of the community. Photos by Boyet Loverita

By Lindy Rosales

Dr. Leonidas “Ned” Pulido and his wife, registered nurse Carmencita “Menchie” Pulido, were introduced to the Filipino American community of New York as this year’s Grand Marshals for the June 5 Philippine Independence Day parade on Madison Avenue.

The Pulidos are the latest to join the elite ranks of affluent and accomplished professionals who have served as champions, cheerleaders and fundraisers for the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) Previous Grand Marshals include CEO Loida Nicolas Lewis, investment banker Lilia Clemente and lawyer Reuben Seguritan.

“I’d like to say thank you to the PIDCI for giving us the opportunity to lead the celebrations of our Philippine Independence Day 2016 in this part of the world, in New York City. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas,” said Ned in accepting the title.

Menchie echoed her gratitude to PIDCI for “bestowing this great honor.”

Ned and Menchie performed a Ceremonial Walk during a dinner-gala, and were at the center of a Ceremonial Waltz surrounded by dancing couples in their elegant barong Tagalog and Filipiniana terno.

Ned and Menchie Pulido live in Jamaica Heights in Queens. Both are members of various community organizations.

Ned, a specialist in internal medicine, graduated from the University of the Philippines in 1961. He came to the U.S. in 1962 and did his internship in St. Louis, Missouri. He went on to Lankenau Hospital and Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia for his residency and his fellowship at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. He started his private practice in the Jamaica area of Queens and continued for 25 years until he retired. Ned was vice president of the Philippine Medical Association in America and has participated in medical missions to the Philippines over the last 10 years. He remains active with the Knights of San Lorenzo Ruiz and of the Order of the Knights of Rizal.

Born in Claveria, Cagayan, Menchie finished her nursing degree at San Juan De Dios School of Nursing and her BSN at La Concordia College in the Philippines. She previously worked at Maimonides Medical Center and Lutheran Hospital and also taught at Caledonian Hospital School of Practical Nursing Program while working part-time in her husband’s office. At the Catholic Medical Center home health agency, she held various position, including director of its Long Island branch. She joined the Visiting Nurses Association as director of Admissions and Case Management. Menchie is a tennis enthusiast and was president of the Eastern Filipino Tennis Association for two terms.

Ned and Menchie are pillars of the Ilokano America Association, Inc. where she served as president in 2005. The couple has one daughter.

Diwa ng Kalayaan Elaine Ficarra. PAFCOM Photo

Diwa ng Kalayaan Elaine Ficarra. PAFCOM Photo

PIDCI is currently led by Dr. Prospero A. Lim of Staten Island who was himself a Grand Marshal in 2012. The year 2016 marks its 26th anniversary organizing the annual street celebration with floats, marching bands, and food booths. Its website says it has 171 member organizations as of 2015.

“Each organization is allowed one vote during the elections,” board member Nonoy Rafael told The FilAm in an interview. However, he stressed that member organizations must register to vote at least two months before elections.

Tambi Wycoco, a member of PIDCI’s board of directors, offered a snapshot of the history of the parade. He said it began during the time of Mayor David Dinkins in early 1990s. There was a new Philippine president, Corazon Aquino, and Filipino Americans would like to show its solidarity as a community rallying behind the new leadership. The first parade was held in 1990.

“It was a short parade graced by Ms. Lea Salonga as their celebrity guest, who rode on a calesa,” he said.

The parade was followed by a cultural celebration and street fair that lasted all day, much like how the parade is celebrated today. The parade in Manhattan is touted to be the biggest celebration of Philippine Independence outside of the Philippines.

There are a series of events leading up to the parade.

The Grand Marshal gala kicks off the festivities followed by the various beauty contests. Preparations have started as early as March when the preliminary voting took place for the Mrs. Kalayaan popularity contest which is now on its fifth year. Dhelma Lopez was crowned Mrs. Kalayaan 2016 and will serve as PIDCI’s Ambassador of Goodwill for one year. The Diwa ng Kalayaan 2016 beauty pageant is the teen version and took take place last May 7 with Elaine Ficarra from Connecticut winning the coveted title. Mrs. Kalayaan and her court will ride their own float during the parade and so will Ms. Diwa ng Kalayaan and her court.

The 2016 Independence Day celebrations is scheduled to take place on June 5th. A flag ceremony and mass at the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue will usher in the whole day celebration. Film and TV celebrities riding elaborate floats are expected to add luster to the parade.

The Independence Day Ball on June 10 is the culmination of the month-long activities. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach is the Special Guest of Honor. Typically held a week after the parade, the ball is attended by PIDCI officers, friends, and supporters dressed in their finest and formal wear.

“It will be a beautiful day,” said PIDCI’s Nonoy Rafael.

Mrs. Kalayaan Dhelma Lopez

Mrs. Kalayaan Dhelma Lopez

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