2018: A Year of Persistence and Many Firsts

2018: A Year of Persistence and Many Firsts

By Marivir R. Montebon

President, FAPCNY

The year 2018 began with feistiness and ended in gratitude and hope. Looking back, the year of the dog in the Chinese calendar, went through as a clearly dangerous one, but it was nevertheless met with grit and solidarity among journalists.

The first engagement that the FAPCNY had gone into in January 2018 was on giving out our official stand on the controversial case against Manila-based Rappler and the revocation of its license to operate, uneasy signs of press freedom being threatened.  On January 16, 2018, we released our first statement of solidarity (thumbs up to Noel Pangilinan who heads the committee on public statements) for beleaguered media colleagues headed by international journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.


A few weeks later, journalist Leilani Albano of Digital Village in Los Angeles reached out to the press club where yours truly gave a15-minute interview on the same issue.

In the deep of winter of 2018, the FAPCNY stood firm on the profession of truth and in solidarity with beleaguered colleague Maria Ressa early on.

As the political front had begun to heat up, the FAPCNY had worked in place its website fapcny.org and the privilege and press cards of its members. The privilege card meant an expansion of good will and support of FilAm entrepreneurs to the members of the press.

Conversations over Coffee

Stirring up community conversation was one of the deep and upbeat things we did best. Chaired by Cristina DC Pastor, the FAPCNY Kapihan had done enlightening media forums on human rights, freedom of information, and the like, tapping local luminaries and engaging local leaders.

On January 22, our opening salvo for the Kapihan was on the human rights situation in the Philippines with speakers Fr. Albert Alejo and Phelim Kine of the Human Rights Watch. Titled How to Defend Human Rights in the Philippines, the conversation revolved on human rights protection in the wake of Pres. Duterte’s drug war.

A sequel forum was created on April 13 titled Implications of the Philippines’ Withdrawal from the ICC with international lawyer Ruben Carranza, Esq. as main speaker.

On May 17, we had the Kapihan on Freedom of Information Act with Atty. Licelle Cobrador as speaker and one professional development session on ‘how to lead your organization’ on June 22 with former FAPCNY president Ricky Rillera.

In responding to the pressing issues of immigration, especially deportations, the FAPCNY organized an immigration Kapihan on August 22 with Atty. Cristina Godinez and Bergenfield council president and lawyer Arvin Amatorio as speakers. It was so far the longest forum this year because of the immensity and complexity of US immigration concerns among Filipinos.  That forum sent everyone thinking deeply, and it could not have ended that night.

For 2019, immigration forums are in the offing.

Deep Ties with the Community

Members of the press club have always been immersed in community activities of various Fil-Am organizations and the Philippine Consulate. This is to eagerly highlight Philippine culture and arts in the Big Apple. Two new big things happened in 2018, at least that’s closest to the FAPCNY.

It was heartwarming to have been treated specially by DOT Attache Susan del Mundo in a FAPCNY-DOT get together on April 26 at the Kalayaan Hall. That exquisite party themed to be ‘by the beach’ had established the needed camaraderie and ease. As we journeyed throughout the year, major events like the Filipino-American restaurant week (which got extended for one more week due to popular demand), had never been so much fun.

The Explore Islands Philippines Exhibition on May 9 at the Vanderbilt Hall of the Grand Central Station, another first, was given enthusiastic support by individual members. A brainchild of Edwin Josue and Jerry Sibal, it showcased the different islands of the Philippines with all their natural magnificence.  

Patikim: Our 7th Anniversary Party and the Winning Essays

On November 16, it was the press club’s turn to be glitzy. In celebration of our 7th anniversary, we organized a cocktail party called Patikim (or taste) to celebrate our presence in the community and to steadfastly remember to uphold and protect press freedom.

Two major breakthroughs were celebrated in that party. One, we had nine Fil-Am caterers and restauranteurs supplying our sumptuous array of food and drinks for free! I could not believe it myself, how generous they have all been. We only asked for one dish as a promotional platform, and they ended up donating at least two.

The second breakthrough was the official launching and awarding of winning essays of the first Fil-Am History Month Essay Writing Contest.  A campaign hatched in August, ran in September and October, and awarded in November brought out the Ninja in all of us at the Board. But we made it.

The most heartwarming realization is – yes, there are great potential writers in our midst. Despite the short notice, we garnered 12 highly reflective entries, 5 of which made it to the top.

Our screening panel was the entire Board, who were all amazed by the eloquence of the participating millennials. Momar Visaya did the official tallying, saving many of us who were pained at our lack of mathematical prowess.

In 2019, we may reinforce ourselves official tabulator, because for sure, the entries would increase as we will campaign for entries at a much earlier time.

A New Consul General

We welcomed a new Consul General in 2018 in the person of Amb. Claro Cristobal. ConGen Claro is refreshing new leader for the Filipinos in the East Coast. He is a deep, reflective conversationalist who also has a disarming sense of humor.

In the midst of the growing political and social tension in the community, ConGen Claro remains congenial and fair, giving everyone their side of the story.

At the 2018 Philippine Independence Day Parade on June 5, which saw the human rights rallyists as the biggest contingent, the good Consul General calmly remarked: if we all could march together like this, then this is democracy at its best.

Year-end Reflections

2018 will end in two hours. The FAPCNY has continued to cover events in the community that reflected the best and worst in us, Filipinos in America. Hopefully our reportage, based on best effort truthiness and ethics, would be our contribution to the community building through an enlightened, informed decision-making of individuals.

When Maria Ressa won the Person of the Year by Time and another by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists late this year, I personally looked back and said to myself, persistence is key to protecting the truth. Solidarity makes us strong in the face of trolls and fakery.

Thank you, 2018, and looking forward to a 2019 of truth, compassion, and good health of mind, body, and spirit to us all.

FAPCNY at 7: Great Food, Winning Essayists, Vow to Protect Press Freedom

FAPCNY at 7: Great Food, Winning Essayists, Vow to Protect Press Freedom

By Marivir R. Montebon

FAPCNY President


New York – Subscribing to a glitzy dress code, the cocktail party Patikim (taste) marked the 7th year of FAPCNY, where more than a hundred guests came dressing up like ‘Just crazy but not that rich Asians’ at the Philippine Center lobby on November 16, 2018.

It was a fun Friday night with great food, glitzy guests, winning essayists, and the vow to continue protecting press freedom, a day after the city was battered by a freaky autumnal snowstorm.

FAPCNY President Marivir Montebon welcomes guests: Journalists try to conquer fear with truth. We are bound to tell or write the truth.

Prof. Luis Francia

The up-dressing was meant to perk up an otherwise heavy theme of press freedom as a cornerstone of democracy, ably tackled by guests Consul General Claro Cristobal and Prof. Luis Francia. Cristobal, who was installed as Consul General just this summer, emphasized the need to protect press freedom for the pursuit of truth. Francia, a Hunter College professor and Philippine historian/novelist, did an indepth, outstanding speech on the state of media in the Philippines and the US. He emphasized the importance of press freedom for the people’s right to know.

Lindy Rosales, Consul General Claro Cristobal, Loida Nicolas Lewis, Cristina DC Pastor, and Grace Labaguis.

Broadway singer Cutuy Herrero and newly discovered talent Carla Angeline perked up the party along with the music of DJ Ernie and Marilou Bugarin. Patikim was the first community party fully supported by nine Filipino entrepreneurs with their popular signature dishes.

Enjoying great food: Dulce Barangan, Ann Beck, and Juliet Payabyab

FAPCNY had sought for only one dish from each restaurant, but most of them ended up donating more than one dish. The cocktail party turned out to be a gastronomic feast, thanks to Carol Restaurant, Victory Chicken, Ugly Kitchen, Herb-a-Base, Mountain Province, Elena’s Kitchen, Flipeats, Popsie’s and Kabisera Kape. Herb-a-Base’s goat cheese wrap was to die for, Kabisera Kape’s ube cupcake was swooped so fast, Carol’s Restaurant’s meatballs were heavenly, and the potota gratin of Flipeats was a delightful surprise.

Essay champ Jessica Jacolbe with Lindy Rosales, party chair (right), party host Rachelle Ocampo and Pres. Marivir Montebon (left).

Seeing that the media party was a platform for business and goodwill, the nine caterers were on board early on. The good Consul General Cristobal approached me at the party and asked, really they all agreed to donate? I replied on the affirmative, we promised to pay for delivery cost and media mileage, ConGen.

I whispered to VP Cristina DC Pastor about how the ConGen was amazed at the generosity of the nine restaurants, and she replied, “Now the ConGen knows you’re a hustler.” And we burst laughing.

The party raged on through the cold night and the brand of cool under pressure is evident in party committee chaired by Lindy Rosales with teammates Grace Hufano Labaguis and Cristina DC Pastor.  And it went well with Muriel GI, editor of Pinas USA, and Felix Manuel queen of queens of Philippine Star who were at the registration table. Notable fundraiser Myrna De Guia-Gutierrez raised money from raffle tickets more than enough to pay for our space rent!

The most inspiring thing at the party was the emergence of 12 budding writers in the community who participated in the 1st FilAm History Month Essay Writing Contest. Project chair Pastor said that it came as a surprise that on the last two days of the one-month campaign, the entries reached a dozen.

Project chair VP Cristina DC Pastor with some of the essayists (l-r): Marq Lungayan, Jeanne Jalandoni, Jessica Jacolbe, Derick Hidalgo (on behalf of daughter Feih), Carlo Ceballos, and Shea Formanes.

The FAPCNY Board had picked up the top five essayists to be awarded: Marq Lungayan, the youngest of the contestants was fifth, trailing Shea Formanes, Carlos Ceballos, Jeanne Jalandoni, and Jessica Jacolbe, the first champion.  The winners received trophies and medals and cash prizes courtesy of Atty. Lara Gregory ($200), Fernando Mendez ($300), Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis ($500), and Qudos for the 4th and 5th prizes.

3rd placer Carlo Ceballos receives trophy and cash award from Atty. Lara Gregory

Fifth placer Lungayan, the youngest among the contestants, said he was happy to have made it to the top 5 and plans to join again next year. Derick Hidalgo, who received the certificate of appreciation on behalf of his daughter Feih, said the essay writing contest was a great opportunity for his daughter to share her thoughts as a Filipino-American. “I think next year, the essay writing contest should grow much bigger,” he made an encouraging note.

FAPCNY intends to make the essay writing contest, a brain child of Pastor, an October tradition.

Toward the end of the night, the FAPCNY Board chose the most fabulously dressed guests who were given prize tickets to a jazz concert of Dr. Kevin at the Sheraton Flushing. Glamour couple Fernando Mendez and Laura Garcia was the popular pick among journos.

Most fabulously dressed couple: Fernando Mendez and Laura Garcia

Don Tagala in tuxedo

Undisputed glam: Felix Manuel, queen of queens.

Most coveted prize goes to Melissa Alviar: PAL round trip ticket JCK-Mla-JFK.

Great supporter Philippine Airlines raffled out a free round-trip ticket from JFK to Manila which the jetsetter Melissa Alviar had won. Her reaction was an electrifying way to bring the party to a close. “I have never flown on PAL. I won, I won. Excited to go home soon,” she roared.




FAPCNY Celebrates 7th Year in a Just-Crazy-Not-So-Rich Asians Cocktail Party

By Marivir R. Montebon





New York – Expect the 7th anniversary of the Fil-Am Press Club of New York (FAPCNY) to be fun, stylish and substantive in a community party on November 16, 2018 Friday at six in the evening.


The press club is now seven years old, and we are committed to continue our vibrant community press coverage in the East Coast.  The “Patikim” (or taste in Pilipino) cocktail party will be in solidarity with friends and guests, including the Consul General Claro Cristobal and better half Ms. Marilou Cristobal, at the Grand Lobby of the Philippine Center on 556 5th Avenue, NYC 10036.


It will be fun and stylish through its dress code ‘just Crazy but-not-so Rich Asians.’ We will all wear our fabulous best, just to balance off the seriousness of our responsibilities as journalists.  The event also aims to raise funds for the club’s programs. (To attend our party, please go to Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/patikim-tickets-50937670945?aff=ebdshpsearchautocomplete)


“Patikim” will be definitely substantive. To deliver the special message on press freedom and responsibility as the cornerstone of democracy, we have Consul General Claro Cristobal and a special media personality as well.


During the party, FAPCNY will award the winners of the 1st FilAm History Month Essay Writing Contest with cash prizes and trophies. We are still open to entries for “What it means to be Fil-Am.” (Email entries to fapcnyscholar@gmail.com; Read details at http://justcliqit.com/fil-am-press-club-of-new-york-holds-1st-fil-am-history-month-essay-contest/


We will have elegant, vibrant music by DJ Ernie Bugarin and a special sultry singer.


For a donation of $40 per ticket, you will definitely taste delectable cocktail provided by our generous sponsors Popsie’s, Mountain Province, Grace Carol Restaurant, Kabisera Kape, Ugly Kitchen, Flipeats, Herb-a-Base, Victory Chicken, and Elena’s Kitchen. So please, come and join us in this media-community solidarity party.