Profile: Saint Paul Manila Alumnae USA

Established in 2015, the Saint Paul Manila Alumnae USA (SPMA USA) is a 501c3 alumni organization based in the United States. It aims to connect with Paulinians, build a national alumni community, and support Saint Paul University in the Philippines. Its membership encompasses all Saint Paul University campuses back home and all class batches.

As a member, you can expand your network of Paulinians and friends of Saint Paul; bond together in social meetings; align with your business interests, and grow your social media numbers. Additionally, the alumnae can share news about Paulinians and friends of Saint Paul; provide personal and professional development tips; receive discounts from business and community partners, and participate in various SPMA USA programs and events. You can also support the educational programs of Saint Paul University and SPMAF, and other community projects in the Philippines through the SPMA’s Fleur De Lis Fund.

The SPMA’s Fleur de Lis Fund aids projects such as the scholarships for deserving Saint Paul students–from senior high school to college programs in education, nursing, business, information technology, and computer science—and the Saint Paul Music Therapy Center in Manila, which is providing the special needs of the youth and children. The Fund also helps various SPMAFI projects that assist women in correctional facilities and the elderly nuns at the Mere Monique Homes in Iloilo, Philippines.

For more information, email spmausa@gmail.com, or visit www.facebook.com/spmausa/ or www.spma-usa-inc.org. – Marilyn Abalos

Meet Our Hardworking Vice Consul

New to the Philippine Consulate General family and a fresh face in the New York Filipino community is Vice Consul Tanya Faye O. Ramiro, who assumed her first diplomatic posting for the Philippine Foreign Service in the Big Apple last September 2017, has been concurrently serving as the Administrative Officer of the Consulate, Administering Officer of the Resident Election Registration Board for Overseas Absentee Voters, and the Assistant Manager of the Philippine Center.

Her responsibilities seem enormous for a new arrival, yet Vice Consul Tanya is no doubt confident she will deliver the exemplary public service for which the Consulate is known for throughout the community. “As head of our core consular services, my primary responsibility is to achieve operational efficiency in consular operations this being the frontline service of the Philippine Consulate General in New York,” she explains, “this requires me to supervise the performance of the personnel on a daily basis and resolve issues that are escalated to me. Executing frontline service operations is very dynamic because you also deal with unpredictable and novel challenges. My role is not only to achieve efficiency in public service but to also improve problem-solving practices.”

As Administrative Officer, she manages administrative processes involving staffing, finance, and property issues. “Implicit also in being an administrative manager is playing the role of cheerleader of the personnel – I want to help everyone achieve job motivation by encouraging them, listening to their problems, and advising them as best as I could,” she says.

Lastly, as Assistant Manager of the Philippine Center, she is the second-in-command with respect to maintaining the New York Philippine Center, which mostly everyone in the community knows as the Philippine Government-owned building along Fifth Avenue that primarily houses both the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Philippine Consulate General, aside from other government agency representatives, such as the Philippine Trade and Investment Center, the Philippine Department of Tourism. and Pag-IBIG Fund.

Born to a father hailing from Ilocos and a mother from La Union, she attended Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll) in Quezon City from nursery all the way to her high school years. She then went on to attend Ateneo de Manila University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with honors. Immediately thereafter, she enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila College of Law in Rockwell, Makati City where she earned a Juris Doctor Degree and made the dean’s list. Accordingly, she took the Philippine Bar and signed the Philippine Roll of Attorneys at the Supreme Court in May 2010.

Having already familiarized herself with several Filipino-American community leaders throughout the Tri-State region, Vice Consul Tanya’s primary goal on her New York posting is to change the perception of Philippine “public service” that some overseas Filipinos may have. “Each day at work is, therefore, an opportunity to prove that the Philippine Foreign Service could be as efficient and as professional as any other foreign government agency,” she remarks. She goes on to remind that among the newer services that the Consulate is offering is the “Passport Release Tracking System,” which the Consulate has launched last January 2018, wherein applicants need to simply log into the Consulate’s official website www.newyorkpcg.org to monitor the status of their respective passports, instead of calling or emailing the Consulate. “Hopefully, initiatives such as this could help shift the mindset beyond the stereotype most have of Philippine public service,” she comments.

As far as what she feels is her greatest achievement in her new posting, her only remarks are: “I already consider it an achievement whenever a kababayan would take time to call or send me a greeting card to say how thankful they are for the assistance we have provided. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to know that our work in the foreign service helps people in concrete ways.”

Although she has been in New York for just seven months as a Consulate officer, Vice Consul Tanya is no stranger to the urban delights of this great city. “Since I was in high school, my mother, Gloria Jean Ongogan Ramiro, who used to work here in NYC, would save up money to bring all her four children to NYC to spend time with her. Mommy was our official tour guide and photographer. She introduced us to the basics of NYC. Mommy paved the way for us in America”, she recalls. “Now that I am here as Vice Consul, I am hoping to take this opportunity as well to immerse myself in the local culture.”

As for her personal message to the Fil-Am community, she only has to say– “Maraming salamat po sa inyong mainit na pagtanggap sa akin, at sa inyong patuloy na pagsuporta. Sisikapin ko pong pagbutihin ang aking trabaho bilang inyong Vice Consul.

“In more ways than one, you are all ‘ambassadors’ of the Philippines. Let us continue to show the world what makes Filipinos truly world-class. Mabuhay!” — Wendell Gaa

Healthy Living Is Their Business

Filipino immigrants Carol Sibbaluca and husband Sam were living an average American life–working a 9 to 5 job, raising a daughter, paying bills, and saving for the future– when they realized their income alone just won’t cut it and they needed more.

“My husband is into Information Technology (IT) and I was a retail manager of an import-export company. We wanted to send our daughter to college with no financial assistance so we needed the extra income.”

With their daughter Katrina as the major driving force, they set out to change the direction and future of their family.

It all started with a friendly invitation to a dinner presentation of Saladmaster. “My husband is from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA Cl ‘82),” Carol said, “His friend, Jimmy Garcia, a pilot and a member of PMA Cl’85, and wife Meden hosted a health and nutrition show and they invited us.”

Saladmaster, Inc. is a direct selling company which offers cookware made in the U.S.A. using carefully selected American and Swiss stainless steel. And it’s backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty, so people can enjoy their cookware for decades.

Initially, Carol was skeptical of the product “We have been Saladmaster owners since 1982 in the Philippines. My mom bought it in Singapore.

Back then, I was not sure if it was a great product.” But seeing firsthand the benefits of owning the cookware and because Sam had medical issues, they decided to give it a try. They purchased a set, not knowing that Saladmaster would soon turn into a business venture.

“I like healthy eating and my husband has high cholesterol so I said why not get the natural vitamins, minerals, and nutrients directly from the food,” Carol shared.

It was not until 2004 that they joined the Spirit of Success Program of Saladmaster, first as a trainee in Panorama City, California working their way up the ranks. “When we started, it was just a part-time job,” she said.

The couple worked long hours. In no time, they saw the fruits of their labor and decided to make a change: Saladmaster now became a full-time job.

Originally from Guagua, Pampanga, Carol believes the key to success is “having the passion and the ability to overcome disappointments and failures that come along the way.”

“Each person has their own passion; it may be selling, photography, or cooking and that [passion] is what you will pursue,” she told Fil-Am Who’s Who.

2006 proved to be a fantastic year for Sam and Carol. They got their promotion as Direct Dealers. After working with their promoting dealer for two (2) years they moved to New Jersey and opened their own business–Supreme Health Systems LLC.

Supreme Health Systems LLC is an authorized distributor of Saladmaster in New York and New Jersey. In the Tri-State area, there are about 10 dealers authorized to distribute Saladmaster products.

Carol admits Saladmaster gave her “financial independence” and enabled her to be her own boss.

Like any business, Supreme Health System LLC faced some growing pains. “When we started, being able to have people join and believe in the product [was difficult.] “

“Saladmaster cookware is priced like a major kitchen appliance depending on the cookware set one is investing on. But the product speaks for itself. The quality of the actual product and the benefits it gives—makes people know that it is more than worth to invest on it.”

All their hard work paid off when Katrina earned her nursing degree from Cypress College in California. She joined the family business full-time and now runs her own business, Supreme Health Systems of New York LLC.

Today, Carol and Sam are giving back to the community by helping about 40 consultants in their group achieve their goals. Supreme Health Systems LLC has two offices: one in Jersey City, New Jersey and another in Woodside, New York. They also have a satellite office in Connecticut and plan to expand operations in Massachusetts.

Sam and Carol have received numerous awards and recognition making them ideal examples for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“Success in this field takes sacrifice, time, and commitment. A person should have a purpose and [be able to] answer the question why do you want to do this [kind of work], Carol said, “This is not an overnight success. It takes hard work and commitment.”

The couple spends their free time by watching movies, shopping, or traveling.–Maricar CP Hampton

Where To Next: Hijo Resorts Davao

Are you flying to the Philippines in the next few months? If you haven’t solidified your travel plans yet, consider a visit to Hijo Resorts Davao (Tagum City). More than just a beach trip, Hijo will give you and your family a really unique Filipino experience. You’ll be stepping away from the shopping malls and stepping into the world that many of our countrymen in the Davao region live every day.

A visit to Hijo has at least four components.

1. Beach

What is a resort in the Philippines without a beach, right? Just be ready for a black sand beach. It isn’t the largest or longest beach in the country, but there are tons of things to do! Banana boats, kayaks, and SCUBA divings just to name a few. Hijo has been working to preserve the marine life in the Davao Gulf, and it has recently installed bommies which have just started to grow coral and attract some of the Philippines’ best marine life.

2. Dining

While many Filipino dishes have made across international waters, there’s definitely more to our cuisine once you visit the different provinces. Hijo is home to The Spot, a Halal restaurant accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT). Be sure to try the dyampok, the traditional Kalagan, an ethnic group, way of cooking bananas, fried in a light batter and served with coconut sugar and roasted sesame seeds!

3. Tours

Hijo is situated inside a plantation, giving it the chance to offer tours no one else can. It offers two plantation tours, one to the coconut plantation and another to the banana plantation. You can learn about how both are grown and harvested. Think that’s boring? It really isn’t!

Apart from the plantations, you can take a mangrove boat tour. Mangrove forests are endangered, and Davao is home to a large chunk of what’s left in the world.  The boat tour will take you through the Madaum river, where the Kalagan tribe still lives.

4. Tagum

Unlike other cities in the Philippines, Tagum is full of parks. You can rent a bike, take a ride, have a picnic, or just enjoy some of the Philippine plants. The botanical garden, which is not quite full of flowers as it grows a variety of Philippine trees,  is a lovely spot to visit if you like strolling through the greenery.–Rachel Davis

Where To Eat In Madrid

Madrid, the capital city of Spain, has long been one of my dearest travel destinations.  Having spent a good amount of time there the past six years, I’ve found and discovered some favorite places and restaurants.  In a week-long trip this past autumn, I created a list of my top five.  While the extent of my culinary expertise really only comes from being a self-professed foodie brought up by self-professed foodies as well, if you ever take a trip to Madrid, I believe these places are worth visiting.

1. Posada de la Villa

In Cava Baja, a trendy part of town, a part full of bars and little restos, there is an old asador (grill house) called Posada de la Villa. Its oven has been roasting lamb since 1642. (Take that, Lombardi’s!)  And the lamb?  It’s out of this world!  But start your meal with some padrones (roasted Spanish peppers that are eaten whole, and they’re not spicy!) and choose among the many other classics it has on the menu.  Just don’t skip the lamb!

2. La Ardosa

Every visit I have ever made to Madrid included a visit to this bar (sometimes several visits to this bar!).  This place opens relatively early for a Spanish watering hole, and it is famous for its tortilla de patata (potato omelet).  Even Anthony Bourdain has nothing but praises for this dish.  Be sure to go early.  I’d once arrived at 9 p.m. (early for a Spanish night out) and they’d already run out and stopped cooking tortilla.  Should that happen, their other tapas are great, too.  My other go-to is the morcilla de foie.

3. Casa Salvador

Known for its bull soup, having once been frequented by bullfighters, the restaurant is nothing but Spanish charm.  Despite being known for its meat, I really enjoy its merluza (hake).  In a restaurant like this, you can’t go wrong. So order what you wish and savor every bite!

4. Barril de Las Letras

It was a real toss-up between this and La Barraca—another famous paella restaurant—because what is a trip to Spain without paella, right?  But since La Barraca makes it to many food lists, I thought to include this place instead.  La Barraca is another great restaurant for Spanish classics! Enjoy its giant sangrias on a lazy Spanish afternoon.

Note: If you really want out-of –this-world paella, and if you have the time, drive down to Alicante and look for a restaurant called Mi Casa.  Its paella is different, very thin and really incredibly delicious.

5. Valor vs. San Gines

This comes down to chocolate.  It really does.  Both churrerias are great places to visit.  Valor churros are big, puffy, and airy.  San Gines churros are what you might recognize: skinny, ridged, and crunchy.  Both are good so it really comes down to chocolate.  I, personally am a fan of Valor chocolate, which is thicker and more chocolatey (does that make sense?), but I know some people love San Gines through and through.  So if you have the time, try both!

One of the best things about Spain is the ability to take the simplest ingredients and make them out-of-this-world.  That is one of the defining traits of each of these restaurants, and perhaps what I love most about Spanish cuisine.–Rachel Davis

Christine Allado Joins The Original London Cast Of ‘Hamilton’

Filipino actress and singer Christine Allado has joined the original London cast of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton: An American Musical” as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds. The show opened last December at the Victoria Palace Theatre.

“…As a self-professed ‘Hamilfan’ since listening to the cast recording and having seen the show, I don’t think words could really encapsulate how thrilled, grateful, and incredulous I am at the fact that I will be playing such a cool part in the original West End production of ‘Hamilton: An American Musical.’ A quote from ‘Wicked’ always comes to mind when amazing things like this happen: ‘Well, what do you do when your dreams come true?’ Golly, I don’t know Ga– I mean Glinda, but I most certainly ‘couldn’t be happier’,” says Christine.

Christine is an emerging musical talent, who made a name for herself as a uniquely proficient artist that has a voice that fuses her classical soprano roots with a contemporary spin of pop and jazz. She is a triple threat; a truly all-rounder who has appeared on stages and broadcasts all over Asia as well as the UK.

Her roles have included Vanessa “In The Heights” (2016) at the King’s Cross Theatre; Maria “West Side Story” (2016) for the BBC 60th anniversary documentary;  Ursula, “Sweet Charity” (2016) at the Royal Exchange Theatre; Understudy Lorene “From Here to Eternity” (2013) at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and Understudy Imelda Marcos “Here Lies Love” (2014) at the National Theatre.

She has previously toured with beloved classical tenor Andrea Bocelli in his “Cinema: World Tour,” which led her to perform for several tens of thousands of people in arenas and stadiums across the world. She is also an original member of the girl band “Zyrah,” a classical crossover group with an epic cinematic influence. Christine trained at the Royal Academy of Music, where she received a post-graduate degree in Music Theatre.

She has many outside interests and loves makeup and skincare, especially for non-western skins, as she understands what works for Asian faces and features.  She is very sporty and loves windsurfing, jet skiing, and kayaking, and also embraces fitness and healthy eating. She is also a self-confessed budget travel lover!

Her parents and sister are both very musical and artistic. Unusually her grandfather, one of the people in legal team for the Philippine Stock Exchange and whenever people talk about him they say he is a true blue blood. Sadly he never got much credit–just like Hamilton didn’t’!

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineAllado –Photo: Jory Rivera

Willing To Help In Any Way

“You don’t have to be someone special to help.” – Elsa Mole-Lambert

A short conversation with Elsa Mole-Lambert will leave anyone excited and inspired to take part in her community and get involved in local projects. For her, being involved is an opportunity to help others.

“I’m willing to help in any way I could. You don’t have to be someone (special) to help,” she told Fil-Am Who’s Who. Elsa, an active member of the Filipino community in the Tri-State Area, has been investing both her time and resources to different organizations since 1997.

“If you attend an event at an organization, find out what it does and see if the people are doing a good job. If there are some needs within the organization, that’s when I come in and help.” Elsa is known to give simply out of the goodness of her heart and without any expectations. She supports the Pilipino American Association of Connecticut (PAAC), Philippine American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM), and National Federation of Filipino American Association (NaFFAA).

She holds NaFFAA in high regard though, “It’s a very good organization,“ she said. “It was the very first organization I joined. I was involved in the youth leadership training.” Elsa, who lives a comfortable life in Connecticut, also shares her blessings to the less fortunate.

“For the past two years, I’ve been doing humanitarian works. I’ve been giving school supplies, reading glasses, toothpaste, and slippers. My husband and I do that on our own,” she said. The response was overwhelming that she decided to put up her own foundation, The Calvar Foundation, which she eventually plans to register as a nonprofit organization. The foundation’s first projects were an adoration chapel built in her hometown of Hinundayan Southern Leyte and a feeding program benefitting more than 200 people. She also plans to start a scholarship fund for deserving but financially challenged students. She’s now set to go back to the Philippines to assist with the medical missions and feeding programs for children. “Any small act will bring joy and fulfillment to someone’s life,” she said.

Her efforts are starting to pay off. She was recently recognized by Pan American Concerned Citizens’ Action League, Inc. (PACCAL) for Excellence in Community Service during the International
Women’s History Month celebration. Last year, Elsa won the 2017 Mrs. Philippines USA, a fundraising event sponsored by the Filipino Social Club of New York, where she received a roundtrip ticket to the Philippines, a portion of the event’s ticket sales, and the 25 percent of the event’s profit to be awarded to a charity of her own choice.

“It’s like a pageant but in terms of fundraising, the organizers raise money so they can do their charity and civic projects in the Philippines.”

Further, her genuine desire to help others extends to her profession as a caregiver, which has been good to her. “One of the reasons I’m helping others is because some people also helped me when I first set foot in the United States. I was so blessed. I had employers who were so generous, so now I’m giving back.”

There’s no doubt Elsa is a busy woman but she loves spending time with her family: Fritzroy Lambert, her second husband, her children from her first marriage, Aileen and Melvin Mole, and her three grandchildren.–Maricar CP Hampton

Power Couple Don & Lea Frain Shares The Same Commitment

There are many reasons why people choose to help their community, offering their time, energy, or resources. And, often, we wonder what motivates or drives them to do what they do. New York-based couple Don and Lea Frain is strong believers of the Fil-Am community and have no qualms in supporting a worthwhile project. “We both consider ourselves blessed in life and have a sense of obligation to give back as long as we can,” Don said. “We look forward to using our experience and knowledge for the betterment of people in the years to come.”

Both successful in their respective careers, Don is the President and COO of Quontic Bank, Astoria, N.Y. while Lea owns the accounting firm Business Solutions Now LLC and works as an accountant at Skyline Engineering. They share their expertise by providing financial guidance to different organizations.

They were both in the market for a serious relationship when they first met. Sparks flew and they got married in 2011. Don recalled, “We met on Match.com. We noticed that we both enjoyed ballroom dancing and things grew from there.”

Don first got involved in the Fil-Am community in 2007. “Lea ran for ‘Mrs. Philippines USA’ in 2004. She felt blessed to be able to help and support other organizations for charitable causes,” Don shared, “When we met in 2007, I joined her in many charitable events.” Since then, they’ve been active members of the community.

They found that cultivating friendships with people within the community helps them deal with stress. “Our jobs are stressful. But we find that being with friends helps remove the stress,” Lea said, “Dancing, of course, helps reduce the stress but more importantly the camaraderie of the people we often see.”

Lea is also a model for Filipiniana fashion. “I’m so proud that in my own little way I’m part of the Philippine cultural awareness,” she said. Lea has graced modeling events such as Renee Salud and Leonard Co’ s fashion shows.

Even before meeting Lea, Don was no stranger to the values and culture of the Filipino people. “When I lived and worked in Asia 30 years ago, I’d often go the Philippines. I found the people friendly and gracious.” Today, his opinion has not changed. “I enjoy going to the Philippines to visit Lea’s family and attend the numerous events in the N.Y. area. Their dedication to helping those in need back home is inspirational,” he told Fil-Am Who’s Who.

It was by accident that Don is now in the banking industry. “When I was looking for a job at the age of 19, a recruiter sent me to a finance company. I got the job and from there went into banking. I always liked working with numbers so it was a good fit,” he shared. As a bank executive, he’s responsible for overseeing quality banking services, hassle-free mortgage process, and good customer relations. What sets Quontic Bank apart is its services that are geared towards immigrant communities. “We’re a real estate finance savings bank that lends primarily to immigrant communities. We also have far more flexibility with respect to the interest rates we will pay on any deposit account,” he said.

Don applauds the Filipinos desire to advance in digital mobile banking. The United States has made many improvements in this area (mobile banking) but Filipinos appear more eager to learn more modern approaches.

Lea was a marketing manager of an export company in the Philippines before coming to the U.S. Lea came to the U.S. upon the invitation of a friend and that same friend convinced her to stay for good. She went to Plaza Business College to update herself with accounting technology. She then landed a job as a bookkeeper in a wellness center. Lea always finds herself working in several jobs in addition to her full-time job. In 2009, she decided to fully concentrate on her consulting business and continue to work for several different companies through 2016. She slowed down in 2017 to deal with her property investments in the Philippines. Currently, Lea continues to engage business clients through her company Business Solutions Now LLC, in addition to her job at Skyline Engineering LLC.

Lea believes that her father passed the torch to her when it comes to humanitarian endeavors. She grew up watching her father who always lends a helping hand to the less fortunate. Her support in several fundraising events in the Tri-State proves she’s fully committed to promoting humanitarian welfare. She thinks her role is not only giving financial support but also setting an example to those who can afford to share what they have. Also, she considers that by helping people in need, it gives them hope and also inspires other people to help.

As active members of the community, the couple supports organizations such as Filipino Social Club of New York Inc., Knights of Rizal and Ladies for Rizal, Metropolitan Chapter, Elmhurst-North Corona Lions Club, Friends Indeed, and Elmhurst Queen of Hearts. A foundation to support the Cancer Warriors Foundation located in Batangas, Philippines is in the works.

“When I first saw these children stricken with cancer, my heart broke. I vowed to dedicate myself to helping them financially,” Lea said. In fact, the Frains were recently on a medical/humanitarian mission to the Philippines as part of their commitment to helping the community.

In 2017, they were Grand Marshals of the 27th Philippine-American Friendship Parade and Festival held in Jersey City, spearheaded by the Philippine-American Friendship Committee Inc. (PAFCOM), an organization that provides social services and does charitable work in the Jersey City area. Initially, Lea had her doubts that Don would participate as a Grand Marshal, but he surprised everyone by accepting the invitation. The support was overwhelming,” Lea said. In 10 years, Don hopes to see the different organizations united and
thriving.

When asked about their secret to maintaining a successful marriage despite their busy lives, Lea answered, “It’s hard in today’s world but first and foremost to trust each other. Realize that you’ll often have different points of view but be willing to listen and compromise.”

Don added, “It’s difficult to balance. But helping others, good friends, and the occasional time alone helps.” To unwind, the couple goes ballroom dancing, overnight stays at the Jersey Shore, frequent visits to the Philippines, and long drives.–Maricar CP Hampton

Preparing For And Enjoying The Golden Years

Aging is not about loneliness and giving up. It’s a continuing life of fun, diversity, and spin. One must seek it. Philippine Community Center Services For The Aging is here for you.

The Philippine Community Center Services For The Aging (PCCSA), a non-profit organization, has established its headquarters to provide the healthcare support to our senior citizens, especially the Filipino elderly who are largely neglected– to break the barriers of isolation, fear and loneliness, untreated health problems, and low self-esteem.

PCCSA, composed of highly educated and well-trained advocates, also envisions seniors and other elderly immigrants having access to culturally sensitive and competent healthcare services and/or therapies, government benefits, fair housing practices, technological literacy, and financial independence. We encourage everyone to build strength for themselves, their families and communities through art, dance, theater, literature, and many other expressive forms of culture.

To interact socially with their peers and collaborate with younger people, which helps keep our Filipino traditions alive, are also fostered.

Further, we support the active seniors who open their own homes to serve as living spaces for fixed-income seniors or as alternative interactive spaces where the elderly and young immigrants participate in documenting their family and social histories of living in Queens, New York or in the other boroughs.

As an essential communication tool, “Mano Po,” a newsletter that tells our members’ life story successes and their various expertise and professional experiences, is about to be launched. It will also serve as an important source material for community news and classifieds and numerous practical tips.

Headed by Consuelo Almonte, founder and president, and Nieva Burdick, board chair, PCCSA is under the umbrella of The Nursing Office, a group of nurses who aims to take care of their fellow nurses and their respective communities.

PCCSA is currently run by volunteers who donate their time and invaluable resources.

For more information, contact us at (347) 488-9386 or (917) 553- 5124. You may also visit TheNursingOffice.com.

Bridging Our Second Generation Fil-Am Youth

Vice Consul Khrystina Corpuz Popov

To many people throughout the Northeast U.S. Fil-Am community, Vice Consul Corpuz has been a mainstay throughout the nearly past over five years as one of the most highly visible officers of the Philippine Consulate General in New York. As director of the Passport/Visa Section, as well as the Consulate’s director for public and community affairs, “VC Khrys,” as we all know her, has tremendously assisted in hosting several events that promote Philippine culture to the Tri-State region. She has also been a focal officer in overseeing activities geared towards developing stronger ties between the Consulate and second generation Fil-Ams, and thereby helping to strengthen the social, cultural, and educational links between the Fil-Am youth and their cultural homeland.

A graduate of Quezon City Science High School, VC Corpuz went on to attend the University of the Philippines-Diliman where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Tourism, and afterward studied at De La Salle University-Manila where she obtained her Master of Business Administration degree. She soon found her career calling in the diplomatic corps and passed the distinguished Foreign Service Officers’ Examination. After serving in the Home Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, her very first diplomatic assignment came in the form of none other than the Big Apple, where she officially assumed her diplomatic posting in December 2012. On her very first day at office, she was welcomed by the Consulate staff led by then Deputy Consul General, and now N.Y. Consul General, Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega.

VC Corpuz was immediately tasked to assist then Consul General Mario De Leon Jr. with the arduous challenges of the Consular Section, ensuring the efficient daily functions of the passport, visa, and legal services of the Consulate. The pressures of assisting the various cases of clientele both within the office and at periodic weekend consular outreach throughout the region were surely there, but thanks to her persistence, patience, and diligence, along with the reliable help of the Consulate staff, she has effectively been carrying out the necessary services to the community.

VC Corpuz’s responsibilities would soon expand to taking charge of the Consulate’s public diplomacy programs, particularly in promoting the cultural and Second Generation Fil-Am Youth initiatives to the entire community. Having been trained in promoting Philippine tourism and having a knack for working with young people (being a young officer herself), this job came quite naturally for her! She has used her coordination and networking abilities to such finesse when the Consulate hosted events such as the Young Professionals Reception for Fil-Am History Month every October, and the Leadership and Mentoring Seminar Series in New York, Yale University, Boston College, and Rowan University to empower the Second Generation Fil-Ams. Among the annual events, together with the youth leaders, she founded the Philippine Graduation in New York in 2013 hosted by the Consulate at the Philippine Center every June where Fil-Am graduates of bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees are honored by the community, as well as the colorful and entertaining “Battle of the Barrios” where competing Fil-Am collegiate youth get to display their musical and theatrical talent.

The community has further witnessed the warm stage presence of VC Corpuz at numerous milestone functions, not the least was the memorable 2016 N.Y. Gala commemorating the 118th Philippine Independence Day Anniversary and the 70th Anniversary of Philippine-US diplomatic relations held at Midtown Manhattan’s famed Cipriani. Hosted by outgoing Consul General Mario De Leon Jr., the grand event was also attended by 350 members of the community, with the guest of honor, outgoing Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia Jr. Together with New Jersey Fil-Am Councilman Jonathan Wong, VC Corpuz served  as Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the entire program, and ably pulling off the affair ranks as one of the proudest moments yet in her young diplomatic career.

On a personal note, VC Corpuz had also served as MC during my father’s (the late Ambassador Willy Gaa) memorial evening tribute, which the Consulate hosted in early 2016 when the entire community paid their respects and shared their fondest memories of my father when he served as Philippine N.Y. Consul General during the late 1990s. I shall always be grateful to VC Khrys for having taken up this role during a somber period for my family.

Having been happily married to her Ukrainian husband for more than a year now, VC Corpuz’s diplomatic tour of duty is expected to come to a bittersweet end by December 2018 when her six-year assignment will expire. Whatever destiny has in store for her upon the completion of her N.Y. posting, the positive impact she has left upon the whole community will undoubtedly remain.–Wendell Gaa