• Community welcomes new ConGen • ‘Tamales’ and mangorind at NYT travel show • Condolence book for Japan

New Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon Jr.

By Felix Manuel

In an unusually freezing spring evening, community leaders, guests and members of the FilAm media welcomed Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon Jr. to a warm and lively reception organized by GMA Pinoy TV.

De Leon, Jr. assumed his post March 1. As the new ConGen for New York, he has jurisdiction over Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. He was accompanied at the welcome party by Deputy Consul Millie Sta. Maria-Thomeczek, Consul Elena Maningat and Consul Robert Borje.

A short video presentation about GMA Network’s two international channels (GMA Pinoy TV and GMA Life TV) was shown as part of the program. Grace Hufano Labaguis annotated the video clips showing congratulatory messages from Kapuso news anchors Mike Enriquez and Mel Tiangco. A 42-inch TV was donated by GMA to the consulate.

“It’s the company’s way of giving back to the community and hopes that people will be entertained while they await the release of their passports,” said GMA International Vice President Joseph Francia on videocast.

The reception, hosted by hosted by Elton Lugay and Luis Pedron, featured teen singing sensations Kirby Asunto and Tiffany Viray. Singers Gloria Papin and Alice Zerrudo also performed.

De Leon previously served as Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to South Africa, minister and consul general in London; consul and member, Investment Promotions Unit, New York; Third Secretary then Second Secretary, Philippine Mission to the United Nations; vice consul San Francisco.

In Manila, he was chief coordinator of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and acting assistant secretary of the Office of Fiscal Management.

De Leon Jr. (fourth from left) with host Elton Lugay, Third Secretary Robert Borje of the Philippine Mission to the UN, Deputy Consul General Millie Thomeczek, GMA Pinoy TV-NY's Grace Hufano-Labaguis, Consul Elena Maningat, and co-host Luis Pedron. Photo by F. Manuel


Romy Dorotan demonstrates how to cook tamales.

At the recent New York Times Travel Show held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, the Philippines held a cooking demonstration where Chef Romy Dorotan of Purple Yam demonstrated how to make Filipino-style ‘tamales.’ Dorotan’s exquisite version used black ground rice, chicken and pork fillings steamed in banana wrapping. Guests visiting the Philippine booth sampled the tamales and also went home with gummy mangorind candies from Cebu made of mango and tamarind.

The Philippines showcased two booths during the event. The Philippines Tourism Booth ran a video about major tourist attractions while tour operator Pacific Air Leisure Services distributed travel packages to the Philippines. The Manila Hotel Booth offered hotel accommodation packages in the world-famous hotel. A raffle draws was held on the last day with a guest winning a Manila City Tour plus two-night stay at Manila Hotel.

Last year’s travel show attracted about 600 exhibitors representing 150 countries as well as around 24,000 consumers and trade professionals, and media representatives.
The Philippine Consulate opened on March 22 a condolence book where Filipinos can express their sympathies to everyone affected by the unfolding calamity in Japan. “We are all united as one people in the face of this overwhelming tragedy” said Consul General Mario de Leon.

Many in the Filipino American community have already extended assistance to the Japanese people, the consulate said in a statement. For the information of all, financial donations are still being accepted by the Consulate General of Japan in New York, which will be sent to relevant organizations that are assisting the affected population. Checks payable to the Consulate General of Japan may be sent to: Donation for Japan earthquake/tsunami, Consulate General of Japan in New York, 299 Park Avenue New York, NY 10171. Please contact the Consulate General of Japan at 212-371-8222 for more details.

The consulate general asks the FilAm community to keep everyone in Japan in their prayers.
Here’s an online petition against graft and corruption organized by the US Pinoys for Good Governance:

“This petition is an effort to show Pres. Pnoy that we want an effective tool to fight graft and corruption and in the process alleviate poverty; and this tool is a form of freedom of information act just limited to the Executive Branch where the bulk of our national budget is spent. Our 1987 Constitution gives the President the power to do that ( (Article VII, Section 17: “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices.”) This tool will allow concerned citizens to look at what our Commission On Audit (COA) and other government officials are doing – for purposes of fighting corruption and improving governance; the need for this vigilance came to fore with the heroic testimony of Heidi Mendoza and others on the alleged newly exposed earthshaking corruption in the military, among other things.

“It has been estimated that 20 percent of our national budget is lost to graft and corruption; that’s a staggering amount of 320 billion pesos on the 2011 national budget of 1.6 trillion pesos. Imagine how many school buildings, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure could be built with this money, not to mention job creation and the alleviation of poverty which hit 26.5 percent in 2009 with a total of 23.1 million Filipinos subsisting on below 2 US dollars per day.

“To sign, please log into http://www.petitiononline.com/gtmjr37/petition.html.”


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