Philippine Fiesta in America’s ‘Araw ng Parangal’ scores a first; JC Fil-Am associations tenders DCG a despedida cena

After attending countless events at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, it came as a surprise that its Grand Ballroom was “dressed” so differently last Sunday, July 21st when Philippine Fiesta in America (now simply dubbed Fiesta in America) treated various Filipino-American Artists to a once-in-a-lifetime grand bash. The group honored distinct talents of home-grown as well as internationally acclaimed performing artists who contributed to the success of the former throughout its fourteen years of existence.
A brainchild of multi-talented host-singer-event planner Rogelio “Ogie” Afable, Philippine Fiesta’s Production and Cultural Director for 14 years, the venue’s unmistakable ambiance was like a mini-Oscars or Grammys night. The stage, though minimally decorated, has successfully achieved its purpose. It was visually captivating and the props, thematically fitting.
Four life-sized bronze rubber statuettes, a close replica of the Oscars, adorned the stage backed with bright colored electric pleated, acetate-frosted silk in hues of aqua, blue, red, and gold and finished off with upright spotlights. A wide screen served as the focal point as every highlight and feature was flashed on it.
And not to miss the whole event’s theme, all framed photos of the awardees were strategically hung around the walls and were generously given away after the event. One felt like walking into one of Hollywood’s red carpet events once inside the venue.
Since the company’s inception in 1996, a huge number of promising and upcoming artists had already successfully penetrated the mainstream and incredibly been able to carve their niches and stamped their indelible marks in the entertainment arena.
After contributing their fair share to Philippine Fiesta, the table is now turned in their favor. Philippine Fiesta is giving back what they have “invested” by honoring their innate talents and recognizing all their unconditional support.
Honorees of Araw ng Parangal will pay tribute also to their Entertainment Matriarch, the late Mila Beltran Mendez, Philippine Fiesta Vice-President and entertainment impresario, who was instrumental in molding, inspiring, and giving promising talents their much-needed break.
With every possible weight bestowed on his shoulders, PF President Fernando “Nanding” Mendez gave a very meaningful welcome speech that won for him the full trust of his audience that he, together with his family and friends, would be able to cross the bars and carry on the legacy Mila left.
A nostalgic video presentation of the sentimental snippets and significant canticles of the demised Philippine Fiesta Vice-President and Marketing Director Mila Beltran Mendez’s colorful life was presented before the event’s main feature that left everyone, especially those who are personally close to her and whose lives she had directly touched, misty-eyed.
There were more time allotted to dancing and a generous serving of sumptuous dinner. Ogie, noticeably, had complete control of the show, from hosting to manning the projector to program pacing. “This is a one-man-band!” He kidded.
“Because all of you have been instrumental in the success of the 14 years of Philippine Fiesta by contributing your God-given talents, this afternoon you’ll all be spectators and honorees. We will try to entertain and give back what is due you.” noted Afable who was truly looking like a show impresario in his all white suit matched with silver cravat and shoes.
“All you have to do is to sit back and relax and allow me to entertain you,” he added. He then took the center and belted out his own vocal interpretation of the popular winning piece, “This is the Moment” which he coined “This is Your Moment” to the amusement and delight of the audience.
His encore number, “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan” was welcomed with thundering applause as the audience got a chance to relate to a recently concluded ABS-CBN’s top-rated teleserye with the same theme song.
Only a few knew that Ogie was a former band member who regularly performed in practically every known watering hole, bar, and Fil-Am events before Nanding and Mila Mendez “discovered” him and made him the head of Phil. Fiesta’s cultural shows.
The following talents and group performers were honored in a categorized roster:
I-Young Performers:
Reign Acedera (Vocal talent)
Seven Odon (Vocal talent) His parents received the award for him since he was in Rio de Janeiro for World youth Day.
Cara Abaya Campos (Terpsichorean talent)
Alyssa Shoemaker (Vocal talent) Her mom Maureen accepted the award for her.
II- Young Adult Performers:
Cienese Lontoc (Vocal talent) Her mom Belinda received her award.
Tiffany Viray (Vocal talent)
Samantha Abaya-Campos (International Dance champion)
Craig Abaya-Campos (International Dance champion)
Gail Banawis (Vocal talent)
III- Cultural / Modern Performers:
P.A.P.I. (Performing Arts of the Philippines, Inc.) The award was received by Miss
Analyn Mijares.
Jaleo Filipino Dance Ensemble of New York (Cultural performance)
Dance Philippines Performing Arts Company, Inc. (Cultural performance)
Pearls of the Pacific of McGuirre Airforce Base (Cultural performance)
Inspired Dance Crew (Modern performance)
IV-Group / Duo Performers:
JPIZEE & the YERRPP Crew (Diverse performers)
The Voice of Worship (VOW) (Praise music)
V- Band Performers:
Moxie Band (South Jersey)
Friends of Enemies Band
Ninth Paradigm Band
The Grudge band
Friends of Mine
Sounds of Manila
VI- Professional Performers:
Bhelle Surban Acedera
Kats Alvir
Ellen San Miguel
Eric Celerio
Maureen J. Varco
Jennifer Cuneta
VII- Special Awards of Distinction:
JR Lavarro-(Perennial host & entertainer)
St. Anthony de Padua Filipino Choir of Bellville
Rev. Fr. Dave Sison, Parochial Vicar of St. Anthony de Padua Parish Church.
Araw ng Parangal, which scored a first for its unique theme and concept, was chaired by energetic Rose P. Javier, who was also with the Philippine Fiesta since its inception in 1996.
Incidentally, on Friday, August 16, the 5th People’s Ball is slated at the Double Tree by Hilton (formerly Sheraton Hotel) along 128 Frontage Road, Newark, NJ. The said dinner-dance party which serves as curtain raiser and eventually ushers in the two-day weekend event of the Fiesta in America, presents a Talent Competition of the 2013 Philippine Fiesta Beauties, the Empowerment Awards which honors outstanding community figures from different fields of endeavor, and highlighted by the premiere appearance of movie celebrities Piolo Pascual and Angeline Quinto.
On Saturday and Sunday, August 17 and 18 respectively, Philippine Fiesta in America opens the Meadowlands Exposition Center doors in Secaucus, NJ to welcome annual fiesta goers, visitors, sponsors, exhibitors, and supporters to the grandest indoor event of the year.
To sponsor, advertise, exhibit, or attend, please call 212-682-6610 or email or visit for updates.
To DCG Tess Dizon-De Vega: “This isn’t goodbye, just Good luck!”
Last Tuesday, July 23, Filipino-American community leaders in Jersey City joined together to tender a despedida cena in honor of outgoing Deputy Consul General Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega of the Philippine Consulate Office in New York at the Grand Banks Café along Montgomery Street in downtown Jersey City.
Community movers and shakers that made up the fifteen contingents representing various Jersey City-based organizations like the Garden State Filipino-American Association (GSFAA), Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League, Inc. (PACCAL), Ladies for Rizal, National Association of Filipino-Americans- New Jersey (NAFA-NJ), Bulakenos / Busilak, and Knights of Rizal, are composed of: Sir Francis Sison, Linda M. Mayo, Rose P. Javier, Rev. Gaudencio “Gaudy” Soriano, Ed Tolosa, Jun Hornilla, Eloisa Porto, Armand Porto, Oscar Fernando, Rolly Javier, Joey Mayo, Millie Hornilla, Bobby T. Yalong, and. Dr. Gabby Calauag.
The Tuesday dinner was already her fourth send-off get-together treat for the day but DCG was still amazingly in her high spirit as if she was just attending her first engagement.
After dinner, with the equally indefatigable Sir Francis Sison on the helm, a souvenir plaque of Appreciation was handed to the overwhelmed honoree after which every one present delivered touchingly personal messages and best wishes for the kind-hearted consul, who, during speeches, would exhibit undeniable gestures of excitement and joy. Her constant clapping and unrelenting laughter more than gave away her ecstatic stature and the greatness she truly felt that evening.
Her response kept the room at a standstill. Everybody was eager to clearly listen to DCG’s every word, occasionally punctuated with boisterous laughter and plaudits. She, in all her casual bearing, delivered a vivid account of her journey as a government official in foreign affairs missions that left a candid testimony of her being an innately dedicated public servant with a compassionate heart.
A never-ending photo op ensued as everybody tried to maximize the rare opportunity that made the petite Deputy Consul General treated more than like a movie celebrity.
The very accommodating lady consul, more popularly as DCG or Ma’am Tess, has merely served her post for two years and currently ordered for a major home-base assignment where her foreign affairs-related expertise and administrative skills are much needed.
enviable overseas assignments and notable experiences from Hong Kong, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and the USA, have ably enriched her capacity as a consular officer, hence, her recall.
Academically armed with knowledge and skills, Ma’am Tess is a UP Diliman Bachelor of Arts in English graduate (1989, Cum Laude), holder of a Master of Arts in English and Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada (1991); received her Juris Doctor (JD) from the Ateneo de Manila School of Law (1999); and successfully earned a Graduate Diploma in China Business (DCBL – with Distinction) at the University of Hong Kong (2005).
She placed first in the Foreign Service Officers Examination and third in the Career Ministers Examination in 1994 and 2008, respectively. Two years later, she was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 2000.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she was a faculty member of the Department of English and Comparative Literature, UP Diliman, from 1989-1994 and also taught Philippine History at the Punlaan Technical School in San Juan, MM.
Talent, as always, is justifiably followed with recognition. Ma’am Tess has received numerous of them, most distinguished of which are: the Order of Lakandula-Rank of Pinuno, the Gawad Mabini Rank of Dakilang Kasugo, and a Medal of Civic Merit by the Government of the Kingdom of Spain.
Multi-lingual and eloquent, (she speaks Spanish, French, English, Kapampangan, and of course, Filipino), DCG is a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Federacion Internacional de Abogadas, UP Alumni Association (UPAA), UPAA-Hong Kong, UPAA-UK, Ateneo Law Alumni Association, Management Association of Hong Kong, Philippine Association of Language Teachers, and UP Faculty Alumni Association.
Blissfully married to equally career-oriented Minister Eduardo de Vega of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, their union was blessed with a young daughter, Montserrat.
To the Honorable Deputy Consul General Ma. Theresa Dizon-De Vega, we could only wish nothing but the best for you and your flourishing career, with the hope of having you back again…the same and unchanged… but with the most prestigious post that you so well deserve.
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