The massive turnout of Jersey City residents undoubtedly proved their overwhelming support to the incoming administration. Grove Street and all nearby thoroughfares were literally covered with spectators of all ages, colors, creed, and status. They all braved the darkening skies and defied the inclement weather just to be able to witness their new mayor’s formal oath-taking and listen to what he had to say in his inaugural address.

After hours of entertaining stage performances of diverse ethnicities, finally, Steven M. Fulop, 36, was formally sworn into office as the 49th mayor of Jersey City at a little around past 6 pm by the Honorable Katharine S. Hayden, US District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey. Fulop then delivered his inaugural address that outlined his administration’s vision and goals for the duration of his term.

Having chosen an inauguration format similar to that of Mayor Thomas Smith in the 1970s in the hope of bringing the people back to City Hall and be part of the inauguration ceremony, Fulop easily displayed his genuine concern for the masses. “We believe that government should be responsive and should work for the people, that is why we chose to break with tradition and have our inaugural ceremony in front of City Hall and after the work hours, so as many people could participate as possible,” he said. “The Inauguration is the first step in the process of bringing change to the city government and we want the residents of Jersey City to be with us each step of the way,” he added.

The nine council members who took their oaths of office prior Fulop were: Joyce E. Watterman, Daniel Rivera, Rolando Lavarro, Frank Gajewski (Ward A), Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal (Ward B), Richard Boggiano (Ward C), Michael Yun (Ward D), Candice Osborne (Ward E), and Diane Coleman (Ward F).

Re-elected Councilman-at-Large was Filipino-American Rolando Lavarro, 42, who was more than ecstatic after his colleagues unanimously chose him as their council president. His seniority prevailed over the rest of the elected council members since they are all first time servers.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and US Senator Robert Menendez delivered short but remarkable speeches. The out-going Mayor Jerramiah Healy was seated among special guests at the right side of the stage while Fulop’s parents were allotted prime seats in the front row.

If there was but one speaker during that eventful occasion who almost stole the limelight away from the evening’s main “celebrity” that would be Mahdi Hemingway, a Jersey City resident who grew up in public housing whom Fulop met in November of 2004 when he was seeking support for his first council city bid.

The two became close despite an unlikely initial meeting and but their many things in common (aside from being both eloquent public speakers with magnetic personalities) like their innate community concerns, serving the country by joining the US Marine, and having worked in the financial sector, easily paved the way to a lasting friendship.

Hemingway generously shared a vivid testimony essaying his incredible plight to free himself and his family from the grueling bondage of poverty and disheartening social discrimination. Every endeavor went smooth for him after his serendipitous meeting with Fulop. With the latter’s brotherly advice, support, and guidance, the road to a better life was made possibly easier for him to attain. His touching personal account inevitably sent the crowd to tears while unrelentingly cheering and applauding.

Today, at 29, Hemingway has a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Government neatly tucked under his sleeves.

Mayor Steve M. Fulop, as the “captain on the helm” to maneuver Jersey City, has been consistent in his advocacy to move the city forward through educated personnel and skillfully trained manpower. “Here in Jersey City, we should have the ability to learn and be skillful in what we say and do,” the new mayor said.

“Jersey City has always been a gateway to America especially among immigrant minorities like Latinos, Asian-Pacific Islanders, and even Europeans. This city has always been the home for those immigrants seeking for hope and better future in America.”

Fulop, a prolific speaker with a commanding personality equipped with an electrifying presence, is a paramount epitome of an educated man that easily answers to popular English Renaissance thinker Francis Bacon’s idealism of a classically educated exponent of this generation when the latter quoted: “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” And, undeniably, Fulop is the total embodiment of a full, ready and exact man!

But only couple of days after being sworn to office, Mayor Fulop already faces a dilemma that will test his consistency. As if challenging one of his distinct pledges to run a corrupt-free administration during his inaugural speech, one of his council-at-large members plans to hire her own daughter as her personal aide. The decision, if carried, would be tantamount to marring the newly installed mayor’s clean-as-slate platform for an effective and transparent office, sans nepotism.

Come July 17, the council will approve all council members’ aides. Although there’s no such law prohibiting such practice, people within the circle thought otherwise.

Incidentally, it is but worth mentioning here that PACCAL Cultural Ensemble was invited to perform during Mayor Fulop’s inaugural ceremony. The cultural dance group, headed by dancer-choreographer par-excellence Virgie Alvarez, a former member of the world renowned Bayanihan Dance Group of the Philippine Women’s University, is a prestigious ensemble of volunteers with professional terpsichorean training. The members include Marissa De Guzman, Nina Grajo, Hermie Garcia, Paulette Ong, Virgil Tolentino, and Rose P. Javier. The group presented popular Filipino folk dances: “Aray!,” “Pandanggo sa Ilaw,” and “Tinikling” while brother and sister tandem of Dancing With the Stars champs Craig and Samantha Abaya-Campos performed “Curacha.”

Personal thoughts: The magnificent feeling brought by Mayor Fulop’s inaugural event was made much more with my personal experience and involvement with the team. There couldn’t be any way better than having this feeling of a winner after having been victorious in my first ever exercise of my Right of Suffrage here in America. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the way thousands of people joyously celebrated the July 1 Mayoral Inauguration…and instantly being enveloped with this strange feeling of belongingness. I know I’m still a Filipino by heart but Jersey City has eventually controlled its beating. And in that very instance I was certain to be under the spell of both.

PACCAL bares list of CHW graduates

Through the initiative of Kalusugan Coalition (KC) with the able support of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, the Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League, Inc. (PACCAL) partnership with the former has disseminated information and training to health professionals, patients, and the public about the treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of heart, lung, and blood diseases.

After four weekends of rigid training, nine PACCAL officers and members emerged as certified Community Health Workers (CHW) who were then fielded to carry out the mission they were trained for.

The wide scope of topics on existing health problems were discussed during the sessions became timely reminders especially to those who, despite their knowledge and awareness, have unintentionally neglected and deliberately disregarded the whole thing due to round-the-clock busy schedules.

Undoubtedly, the intensive information and practical studies gathered during the entire duration of the workshop benefited the Filipino-American community in the Hudson County, particularly, in Jersey City. Timely that it was the said community service oriented venture could at least diminish, if not totally eradicate, the ever growing number of heart and blood-related cases among the members of the community especially the seniors.

Aimed to help control high blood pressure and prevent cardio-vascular diseases and stroke through CHWs’ intervention, the Alliance of Filipino-American Community Health Workers (AFACHW), through a grant funded by Altarum Institute with AFACHW Strategic Champion Project, strengthens the capacity of its volunteers to effectively disseminate and perform what they have been trained for.

True enough, after having tremendously exerted unprecedented effort and dedication, PACCAL stands mighty proud of its sixty clients who have successfully completed the “Healthy Heart, Healthy Family” workshops and health programs after they underwent weeks of intensive workshops and training.

On Saturday, July 13 at 11:00 a.m. sixty PACCAL “Healthy Heart, Healthy Family” candidates for graduation will be conferred with a Certificate of Completion at the Council Chambers, City Hall along 280 Grove Street, Jersey City, New Jersey are:

1. Alquiros,Teresita

2. Alvarez, Virginia

3. Antonio,Labina

4. Aprecio,Charito

5. Aquino, Remedios

6. Aragoncillo.Bellaflor

7. Arzadon,Kathleen

8. Arzadon, Noel

9. Baisas, Marina

10. Burke, Luz

11. Caballero, Jun

12. Caballero, Naty

13. Carungay, Felicidad

14. Casiño, Loreta

15. Daniel, Jennifer

16. Dapat, Christopher

17. DelaCruz, Gonzalo

18. Deleste, Daisy

19. Dorico, Carolina

20. Efondo, William

21. Ella, Jaime

22. Fernandez, Agaton

23. Figuera, Anita

24. Garcia, Cecilia

25. Garcia, Sancho

26. Gonzales, Gloria

27. Gumtang,Teresita

28. Jamilano, Corazon

29. Javier, Rolando

30. Magtoto, Joseph

31. Manalastas, Nancy

32. Maneja, Monica

33. Maneja, Pablo

34. Marzan, Carmen

35. Marzan,Noel

36. Mendoza, Carmencita

37. Olega, Gloria

38. Osoteo, Rod

39. Patag, Amelia

40. Pilapil,Luz

41. Ponce, Cherrelyn

42. Quismundo, Felicidad

43. Regalado, Lina

44. Regalado, Mario

45. Rivera, Normita

46. Rodriguez. Purita

47. Saludo, Ellen

48. Samanyaphon, Rebecca

49. Santillan, Helen

50. Santillan, Jose

51. Santos, Gloria

52. Santos, Teodoro

53. Sarmiento, Cesar

54. Sarmiento, Lourdes

55. Sia, Linda

56. Tan, Rosario

57. Umali, Amada

58. Veluz, Salud

59. Villanueva, Rhodora

60. Wong, Elena

Invited to witness the ceremony and to share the 60 candidates for graduation in their successful journey in attaining healthy lifestyles are are outstanding individuals who painstakingly trained PACCAL CHWs: David Aguilar, Project Coordinator of Project AsPIRE and Project Manager of CHW Strategic Champions Project; Leonida S. Gamboa, Lead CHW of Kalusugan Coalition and Train the Trainer Program; Putri Ranka Manis, CHW Trainor, and Rhodora Ursua, Program Director of Project AsPIRE.

Interested parties who want to participate, donate, or get more information about the program, please contact:PACCAL Program Director Linda Mayo (201) 388-1260; PACCAL Executive Director Bobby T. Yalong 201-300-5234; or PACCAL Pres. Rose Javier 201-993-8815.

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