How Nora Galleros contributed to the transformation of PIDCI

PIDCI President Nora Galleros takes a break from the frenetic Madison Avenue parade.  Photos by Joros Razon

By Cristina DC Pastor

On a cold and cloudy June 4 Sunday, thousands of Filipinos marched on Madison Avenue to celebrate the 125th Philippine Independence waving their flags and wearing the colors of their islands.

The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc., (PIDC), touted the parade a success with politicians, beauty queens and celebrities leading the massive gathering. Nora Galleros, who is PIDCI  president, was joined by Consul General Senen Mangalile, Grand Marshal Dely Go, Ambassador Jose Romualdez, and special guest from the Philippines Senator Risa Hontiveros in welcoming the marchers, tired and famished from a three-hour wait but proud to show patriotic pride.

Especially elated was Nora, who came to PIDCI when the organization was at its low point: It was under investigation for alleged financial irregularities.

“People come to me, I don’t even know them, and they tell me PIDCI is now different,” she said.

As one supervising the momentous celebration, she is heartened by the positive comments as well as the support from New York to the Philippines and from folks she is meeting for the first time.

Mayor Eric Adams presents proclamation recognizing the contributions of Filipinos to New York City. With Grand Marshal Dely Go (next to Adams), Nora Galleros, Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, Senator Risa Hontiveros and guests.
Nora delivers invocation at Thanksgiving Mass at the Philippine Center.

At the time of the interview with The FilAm, she and her board members were finalizing the intricate details of the festival, which she said would have a musical concert, folk dances, a comedy show, and a street fair selling Filipino delicacies, dresses and flags.

While many may see the parade as celebratory in character,  Nora  glimpses a business opportunity. She envisions a “socio economic development market” of about 25,000 Filipino Americans who can contribute to Philippine tourism, trade and small businesses.

“As a business person I have a different take on things,” said Nora, a CPA with a private practice  in New Jersey, Florida, and a flagship location in New York’s Madison Avenue. “How are we going to harness this huge crowd of  about 25,000 people to generate socio-economic development for the Philippines? I’ve been thinking about this for years.” (She said the number 25,000 is the average yearly attendance in the NYPD’s estimate.)

Nora came to PIDC in 2018 as the organization treasurer then auditor and became its president in 2022, as the pandemic was winding down. She agreed to a second term this year because she wanted 2023 to be a milestone year, seamlessly handled with no baggage from the past weighing it down.

For this year’s parade, Nora introduced a Luz-Vi-Minda-themed celebration by inviting Philippine regions and provinces to New York City to talk about their distinct culture, their food, their people, their way of life. She said she invited mayors and governors to come to NYC, open a booth and talk about their provinces.

Pushback from ‘oldtimers’

Fixing PIDC did not come without its challenges. Nora shared how she received pushback from the “oldtimers” about certain decisions she wanted to implement. Nora asserted her leadership.

She said, “Our theme for the parade is ‘Honoring our cultural heritage, inspiring diversity and inclusion.’ When we had a heated discussion I always say, Let’s go back to our theme. It says Inclusion. We have to live the theme, not just mouth it.”

Nora, Dely Go and Risa Hontiveros: Women who marched.

1st in her family to graduate

Nora came to the U.S. in 1990, leaving behind her impoverished family in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental so she could fulfill her scholarships at Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey and complete her MBA in Accounting. She took the CPA tests, all four parts, in one sitting and passed. She is the eldest of four siblings and the first in her family to graduate from college.

She joined two large accounting firms before opening her private practice, Galleros Koh LLP,  now known as Galleros Robinson, a Certified Public Accounting and Business Advisory Services firm.

“I’m a big girl and I can handle different opinions but to me, PIDCI  by its structure is really an umbrella organization. It does not belong to one person or a group of individuals,” she said. “No one should claim they own PIDCI.”

© The FilAm 2023

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