SoCSKSarGen Sisterhood: Mindanao sends its love to the world

The women of SoCSKSarGen with Dr. Dely Go; Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo; Fil-Am’s Who’s Who’s Myrna Gutierrez; Angelica Rose Mejia; Rowena Mejia Randman & Alma Aguja and Mercy Aquino of General Santos City. Photos by Rolan Gutierrez

By Cristina DC Pastor

Lorelie Pacquiao, the mayor of General Santos City, snubbed the 5th Founding Anniversary of SoCSKSarGen USA, Inc., and the commemoration of the 5th anniversary of the signing ceremony celebrating the Sisterhood relationship between Jersey City and her home city of GenSan. The mayor also failed to come to another momentous sisterhood signing on September 12 between Bergen County and General Santos City.

Bergen County leaders, Philippine Consulate officials and members of the Filipino community were all expected to grace the occasion, only to be told last-minute that the sister-in-law of Manny Pacquiao would not be coming. No apology was offered,  angering some guests and embarrassing the organizers.

“We were so devastated. I felt bad, but we moved on,” said Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo, one of the liaison organizers, when reached by The FilAm.  She pointed out how the event was only the second time that the five-year-old sisterhood is being celebrated, because of the COVID pandemic that lingered for three years.

Julius Veneracion Estucado, the outgoing VP of SoCSKSarGen USA and a constituent of Bergen County enthused, “I gave my wholehearted support to the cooperation between Bergen County and General Santos. This is a historic event and a win-win for both great communities. I am a proud Bergen County resident and equally proud coming from General Santos. It was a shame that the Gensan mayor did not come, but we must move on. We have other important events lined up for the week.”

New York Assemblymember Steven Raga giving citation to SoCSKSarGen, USA with Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo; Julius Estucado, first vice president;  and Rowena Mejia Randman

The mayor’s absence did not stop officials, community and business leaders and stakeholders of Bergen County in New Jersey from offering a toast on the fifth anniversary of the SoCSKSarGen USA and the sisterhood between Jersey City and General Santos City. Two landmark pillars were unveiled to the public: the Jose Rizal Monument and the General Santos City Sisterhood Mural depicting all the foreign cities that have a sisterhood relationship with Jersey City.

More than 50 people came to witness the celebration of a sisterhood anniversary that continues to evolve and grow.  Community leaders from the Knights of Rizal New Jersey, Filipino American Festival, Inc., Fiesta In America, among others, offered their support with their presence. So did officials of the Philippine Consulate.

Darlene and Rowena Mejia Randman spoke of the sisterhood’s tangible outcomes:

– A company based in New York importing large volume of fresh tuna from other Asian countries is very interested in tuna supplies from Gensan after listening to a presentation from the Gensan Senior Tourism Officer, during the business exchange at the Jersey City Hall. The company learned about abundant supplies of export quality tuna as well as other seafood products like Vannamei shrimps and tiger prawns; 

-A T’boli exhibit of costumes and artifacts from South Cotabato’s Lake Sebu was held at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.;

-The naming of a street in GenSan to be called ‘Jersey City Avenue’

There’s more going on in the areas of economic development, technological advancements, and cultural and educational exchanges as the sisterhood comes of age, said Rowena Mejia Randman, who is the outgoing president of SoCSKSarGen USA.

“The sisterhood became our springboard in showcasing our culture, arts, traditions, and heritage,” she said. “By sharing all these, we are sending a message to the world that Mindanao, is not just a land of conflicts and strife, but a land of incredible people of diverse ethnicity gifted with artistic ingenuity.”

A historic commemoration of sisterhood mural in Jersey City, with Jersey City’s Jose Arango & Migdalia Pagan; Bergen County’s Ludi Hughes; Dr. Dely Go; General Santos City’s delegation; Knights of Rizal Jersey City chapter; SoCSKSarGen members and friends.
Consul General Senen Mangalile and wife Fe Mangalile at SoCSKSarGen USA’s gala with Rowena Mejia Randman and Carra Tito Forgea, incoming auditor of SoCSKSarGen
The cake that says it all!
The men of SoCSKSarGen and friends with Assemblymember Steven Raga, second from left.

© The FilAm 2023

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