New Congen decries ‘cult of personality’ in welcome reception

Consul General Senen Mangalile: ‘We felt at home right away.’ Photo by Marivir Montebon

By Cristina DC Pastor

Two months after he became head of the Philippine Consulate in New York, Consul General Senen Mangalile was accorded a fitting and felicitous welcome by the Filipino community.

The March 18 Welcome Cocktail Reception, organized by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) and Hiraya Foundation,  was well attended. The audience was treated to a mini concert from the Kayumanggi Chorale, who sang a medley from Kundiman to pop (“Manila” by Hotdog)  to  Broadway (Les Miserables’s “One Day More”).

New York State Assembly Member Steven Raga set the jocular tone of the afternoon when he welcomed the new Congen. He said, “Congen,  you’re coming into a community that’s very talented, proactive, very engaged, and (who) like to party. I hope you have the energy to keep up with this dynamic group.”

Nora Galleros, president of PIDCI, said the organizers wanted to give the Congen a warm welcome with a  serenade to  show “how united we are as a community in New York.” She shared how PIDCI is under a lot of pressure to mount a memorable 125th Independence Day Parade on June 4.  Addressing her “bashers,” she urged them jokingly not to be too critical. “Yung mga bashers…We are doing our very best.”

In his speech, Congen Senen acknowledged the “warm welcome” from the community.

“Hope this will set the tenor of the next few years of our tenure here in New York,” he said. “Because of the warm welcome you have extended to us (he mentions also Deputy Consul General Adrian Cruz who is a newcomer to NYC like him) we have felt at home right away.”

But a statement he made early in his remarks was quite a surprise. He said, “We do not subscribe to a cult of personality.”

Some in the audience looked at one another, thinking, could he be throwing shade at someone?

When contacted by The FilAm to seek clarification, he said, “There was no intention at all to throw shade on anyone. He said he was talking about  “the position we occupy, the office we represent, and the people we serve…It’s not about us, anything else is secondary.”

The speakers urged unity and called for working together as partners to uplift and protect all Filipinos across the Northeast.

A packed audience at Kalayaan Hall welcomes the new Congen. The FilAm Photos
New York State Assembly Member Steven Raga (left) and Congen Senen: ‘A dynamic community’
The well-applauded Kayumanggi Chorale.

© The FilAm 2023

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