The long goodbye: ConGen lauds his consular officers, staff as ‘patriots’

Just having a grand time: No protocol. Photos by Boyet Loverita

Just having a grand time: No protocol. Photos by Boyet Loverita

congen-pcg-family By Lindy Rosales

It was the long goodbye that started in April and ended a week before he left on October 20.

Farewell parties and fundraising dinners in honor of departing Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. went on for several months across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states in the northeast under the jurisdiction of the Philippine consulate.

The evening of October 13 was a night to remember. It was the ‘mother’ of all despedida parties, also the last one in his calendar. It was a consulate-only event hosted by the staff for their beloved ‘boss.’ It was organized by Deputy Consul General Kira Danganan-Azucena who disclosed the hush-hush planning began in May. It was held at the Philippine Center’s Kalayaan Hall, a venue often devoted to town hall forums, fashion shows and film screenings. That night, Kalayaan Hall was one big family party bursting with affection and a mix of cheerful and wistful memories for the ConGen.

“We send you with all our love and gratitude,” said DCG Kira in her message.

The night opened to calm excitement and ended raucously with all night singing and dancing.

Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz hosted the program, promising promised a night full of surprises, “our way of saying till we meet again.” The atmosphere was relaxed, jovial and with no protocols. Black was the color of the night, everyone was dressed in their cocktail finest. Khrys and her group danced to the tune of “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

Indeed, it was one surprise after another.

Cultural officer Olive Magpili-Osias and her group – wearing black and white attire with matching black hats — danced to Frank Sinatra’s classic NYC anthem “New York New York” ending with leg lifts a la Liza Minelli. The men did a charming medley of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” “Twist and Shout” and “Hey Jude” which got the party singing for the first time.

Assistant to Political/Economic Section Wendell Gaa and property officer Carlos Cruz serenaded De Leon with “Twilight Time” by the Platters. “Heavenly shades of night are falling, it’s twilight time;
out of the mist your voice is calling, ’tis twilight time…”

De Leon acknowledged everyone’s musical numbers and “undiscovered talent.”

“I think I’ve shed enough tears through many of the send-off parties,” he said.

He said the PCG family works so hard, but this is “one time I saw the PCG family really play hard. Siguro maraming madidiscover dito.” Laughter punctuated his remarks.

There was a video presentation arranged by De Leon’s Secretary Gret Aberin-Merela showcasing his five and a half years of service to the FilAm community across the northeastern states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

De Leon said he came to New York, the oldest Philippine consulate in the U.S., at a time when the community was
a “fractious community which made for a difficult start.” He tried to promote solidarity through activities such as the Simbang Gabi and the Independence Day Parade that seek to inspire FilAms and elevate their profile as an ethnic community in U.S. society.

“I’m proud to have worked with all of you. It’s really team work at the end of the day, not just the head of post. Please be proud of all the work that you do here. At the end, we are all patriots ‘cause that’s what we do on a day-to-day basis and in the long term.”

“Can’t Take My Eyes off You” sang Consul Bong Carino and his group, prompting the ConGen and his wife Eleanor de Leon to dance the swing as the group was performing.

In the end, De Leon delighted with his own numbers, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” and “I Saw Her Standing There” by the Beatles, accompanied by the Mighty Joe Logs Band. He paid personal tribute to his wife Eleanor who played an important supportive role as he carried out his duties. “She loved her second job,” he said.

ConGen Mario de Leon Jr. cuts ‘Till we meet again’ cake.

ConGen Mario de Leon Jr. cuts ‘Till we meet again’ cake.

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