Oliva Arden Foronda Bragitikos, ICAGP Little Miss Philippines 2017

Olivia Bio Photo JLPhoto-5651

The Ilocano Cultural Association of Greater Philadelphia will be celebrating their annual Little Miss Philippines event on August 5, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel in Trevose, PA. According to President Fernando Dacanay the association is busy working and putting together a wonderful program for their gala event.

This years Little Miss Philippines title holder is the beautiful granddaughter of Paquito and Filomena Foronda, maternal grandparents; and is the founding president of this prestigious and pioneering organization in our area from Jeffersonville, PA.

Olivia was born in 2003 in Philadelphia, PA.  She lives with her parents Chuck and Evangeline and her older brother, David, in Wyndmoor PA.  Her paternal grandparents are Angelo and Evangelia Bragitikos who live in Lafayette Hill, PA.

Olivia is a straight-A student at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, where she is a rising 8th grader.  She regularly attends Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting and participates the children’s program at their annual Quaker gatherings.

Olivia is an all-around student.  Her favorite subjects are English, Math, Choir and Art.  She enjoys speaking Mandarin Chinese and is looking forward to a school trip to China in high school.  She was recently cast as Kaa in the middle school’s performance of The Jungle Book.  She plays on the school’s varsity lacrosse and field hockey teams.  She also enjoys being physically active playing in summer lacrosse and field hockey clinics, taking yoga and barre classes with her friends, and playing ping pong, paddle ball and foosball.

In her free time, Olivia mostly enjoys hanging out with family and friends.  She especially enjoys music.  She spends much of her time singing, composing music, and playing the piano, guitar and ukulele.  One of the highlights of the year was going to see Hamilton: The American Musical on Broadway.  She is musically inspired by Julie Andrews, Nora Jones, and Tori Kelly.  Her favorite movies include: The Sound of Music, movies by Hayao Miyazaki, and Interstellar.  She also loves astronomy and enjoys going to the Franklin Institute’s Planetarium.  She is really looking forward to watching the Solar Eclipse on August 21st!  Olivia also enjoys hiking, fishing, swimming, beachcombing, drawing, painting and making friendship bracelets!

Olivia has a great love of animals.  She enjoyed taking care of cows, pigs, chickens, bunnies, goats, and alpacas at Journey’s End Farm Camp for many summers since she was 4-years-old.  Olivia’s love of dogs and cats inspired her to lead fundraisers for the SPCA.

Olivia has quite an adventurous spirit.  She has traveled nationally and internationally.  She most recently traveled to Spain and sailed the British Virgin Islands, which instilled in her a love of sailing, snorkeling and marine life.  Olivia would like to someday live on a sailboat and travel more of the world to learn about different cultures.

Olivia plans to continue her musical studies and would like to someday attend music school.

Finally, Olivia and her family would like to thank the ICAGP officers and community for the honor of being crowned Little Miss Philippines 2017 and wishes more power to this amazing organization and to President Fernando Dacanay.


Araw ng Kagitingan: NY ConGen De Vega Keynote Speaker at Cherry Hill, NJ Bataan Memorial


Nida low dpi message pic

Pres. Nida Imperial

Today April 9th, Filipino-Americans will mark the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March in simple wreathe-laying ceremonies to be held at the Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  Consul General New York Maria Theresa de Vega, Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn and other local community leaders will be in attendance, along with our officers from others from Member Associations, veterans and friends.

ConGen De Vega will be awarding Certificates to the veterans together with Mayor Josh Keenan of Stratford, NJ, at a reception following the event at the Philippine Community Center.

Cmdr A R Luartes with CPR for web

Luartes (right) with Carlos P. Romulo and Mayor Bernard Samuel of Philadelphia (1944). Photo: Courier Post Camden

There will be a handover of the Philippine Flag, which was left behind by VFW Post Commander Anacleto Luartes, represented by his daughter Mary Lou Stenfanko to Jonathan Magpantay, PCSNJ President. The PCSNJ will have it displayed at their library at the Philippine Community Center in Stratford, New Jersey.

A limited print edition was printed to memorialize the contributions made by Cmdr. Anacleto Luartes to our Filipino-American community and will be presented to his daughter Mary Lou Stenfanko.

The Bataan Memorial was the brainchild of Past President Dr. Francis Talangabayan  during his presidency. We are deeply indebted to his unselfish love and support of our Council and the promotion of our rich cultural heritage. His youngest daughter, April is an acclaimed flutist and also active in our local community sharing her God-given talents and in the medical missions field.

Talangbayan Francis

Dr. Francis Talangbayan

In the Philippines , Bataan Day is also a non-working day as the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) provides in the “Handbook on Workers’ Statutory Monetary Benefits” stipulates that employees “are entitled to at least 100% of his/her minimum pay” even if he/she did not report for work on this day. The labor department emphasized that employees “must be present or is on leave of absence with pay on the work day” immediately preceding the holiday (April 8, in this case). On that day back in 1942, Filipino and American fighters in Bataan under the leadership of Major General Edward P. King of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) surrendered to the Japanese invaders after realizing the “futility of further resistance.” Allied forces had been fighting the Japanese for four months already prior to the Fall of Bataan, and thousands of them had already died by that time.

Hermie cand Ruth

Past President Hermie Aczon and Ruth Luyun

It is noteworthy to mention that the Bataan Monument was restored to its former glory and its surroundings upgraded during the last term of President Hermie S. Aczon in 2013 who worked hard to raise funds towards the undertaking. This was also followed by another rehab during the term of President Ruth Luyun.

“Bataan Day”, referred to as “Araw ng Kagitingan,” is a regular national holiday in the Philippines with President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 655 which he signed in 2013. After the U.S. national anthem and the Philippines’ national anthem were sung, a taps rendition was played by Mr. Murphy who graciously lent his talent for the occasion. This was followed by laying of the wreathes at the monument. After the ceremony, a light reception followed at the Philippine Community Center in Stratford, NJ.

We would also like to thank all who supported the campaign for the restoration of the memorial. Thank you also for the commitment you made to maintain and preserve this memorial that honor our heroes in World War 2. NOTE: There is in fact a law which designates April 9 as a legal holiday. It is Republic Act 3022, signed by then-President Carlos P. Garcia back in 1961. Check it on this link. Read more about Proclamation 655 here. Read the above mentioned DOLE handbook in this link.

FAABCI-Marianos Thank Supporters


(Editor’s Note: The recently held FAABCI “Paskos sa Nayon, Dec. 3, 2016 became the centerpiece of a video presentation featuring the enduring support that FAABCI have for the Pearl S. Buck International Society. Through the PSBI and FAABCI they spearhead the support of children in the program and the Marianos took the opportunity to “thank” everyone for the financial support and encouragement.)
Arnaiz Pic


FAABCI President Grace Arnaiz and her Officers would like to thank all those who supported and attended the Dec. 3 “Pasko sa Nayon” event at the Radisson Hotel in Trevose, PA. Herein follows the message of Marcial and Stella Mariano.

First of all I want to thank God, the Almighty Lord that we are together again in breaking of the bread and celebration of Pasko sa Nayon – also known as ‘CHRISTMAS IN TOWN”. We are all looking forward for a happy celebration and dancing together all night long.

I thank you all for being present tonight – without you it wouldn’t be a nice and joyous one. I also want to let you all know that your donation benefits the needy children in the Philippines under our program.

Tonight we are lucky to have the loving, caring and back up support from the officers of PSBI. They are as follows: Please stand after I call your name;

  • Tony Luna, Vice President of PSBI. (our Emcee for tonight).
  • Mary Helf, board member, retired attorney and partner @ Fox Rothschild LLP.
  • Hong Choing, board member
  • David Yoder, Emeritus board member.

There are 2 other people who would like to be here but unable to attend. They are: Janet Mintzner, Pres. & CEO, and Mr. David Ballai, Chairman of the Board, (Although they are not present, each one of them donated generously for this event). Lets give them a big hand.

These people have a passion to help kids. And we are thankful to them and to all of you for attending this party and donating for a good cause.

Yes, my friends. We should be involved ! Why ? It is because we all know that there are so many kids in the Philippines – that are in dire need of help. …. kids with no parents, sickly and no food to eat… no home, and nobody cares – while they are sleeping on the sidewalk with no blanket to cover themselves. They could be a distant cousin of one of us or someone else you know. Perhaps, a son or daughter of your high school classmate back in the Philippines.

Let’s imagine, further, that if all other Filipino American Association under the umbrella of Filipino Executive Council in other counties of Delaware Valley sponsor 1 child – just one to start with . . . Can you imagine and see the effect of that in equal terms of number of children that we can help in the Philippines ? ?

And this is the reason why we sponsored Delaila de Guzman so she can achieve her dream of being a teacher. She is now a full pledged educator. Have a full time job. She is helping her parents, as well as her siblings attain their dreams and goals in life.

Helping our kids to improve their lives and make a difference in their own family and community is a good deed. Who knows, the child you sponsor today could be the next famous Doctor, a Scientist, an Engineer, an Environmentalist who could save the planet against global warming, or a Rock Star, or perhaps a President of the Philippines. YES, It is a good purpose to do ! And you will feel it – deep in your heart !

And, at the end of the day…. you can rest and feel good about it – that you make a difference on someone else’s life.

Thank you very much for your attendance and donations!

Marcelo and Stella Mariano

2016 “Annual Tribute to the Philippines” set July 23

Ocean City will once again present its annual “Tribute to the Philipines” this coming July 23 from 10am to 7 pm.  In conjunction with the Philippine Consulate General New York, the affair started way back sometime in 2013 with Consul General Mario de Leon and Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian defining their cooperation in such annual event. Click here to view 2016 event flyer.

The day’s event attracts a multitude of visitor’s on the OC boardwalk as well as a large number of  Filipino-Americans who attend the yearly event to show their support. Fil-Am organizations, associations and performing groups have made themselves available for information and wowed crowds with their performances.

Last year, the Mutya Philippine Dance Company and the Rowan University Fil-Am Group presented performances to the delight of visitors and guests. This year the performaces and presentors will be:

  • Rowan University Fil-Am Dancers
  • PSCNJ MODify Group
  • PFASI Rondalla
  • Air Circus Yoyo Performers
  • PNADVI and PNASNJP will conduct HBP screenings

A special feature will be by Mr. Rene Sese, Mr. Mature America 2016 ala- Hawaii’s Dan Ho.

The regional yoyo championship will start at 7pm inside the Music Pier Auditorium.

Admission is free.

Happy 4th of July!

ruth on tv
Ruth Message for web

It is a beautiful day for all of us to be in Philadelphia. Maraming Salamat to all of you who  joined the “Welcome America” parade. I felt the joy and the pride as we marched along our fellow Americans and shout to the world our freedom and the country we live in!

Today I joined the millions of Filipino-Americans across the United States as we all celebrate our country’s Independence Day. Indeed we are all proud that our place, Philadelphia is the “birthplace of America.”

It was on this date 240 years ago that church bells rang out over Philadelphia, as the Continental Congress adopted Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence.  We all need each other as as move on and keep our leadership in the free world.

As we celebrate and honor those who served to preserve our freedom and our way of life; let us take time to contemplate on the significance of this day. For families whose loved ones have served here and overseas, my sincerest thanks and prayers.  Our beloved son Dan, served his country honorably and we are very proud of him. I am sure many of you are equally proud of your loved ones too.

To our Fil-Am veterans my deep appreciation of your service to our country.

For may of us, our lives have changed since coming to America. It is time to give back. I am so happy and blessed that our member associations (MAs)  through the FECGP have actively pursued to serve their local communities and not forget helping back our people back in the Philippines.

On behalf of the FECGP and all the members associations, I wish you all a wonderful time with family and friends. Let us continue to work together and serve our communities in our geographical area. Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey is so vast there are so many opportunities to serve.

President Ruth Bayle Luyun
Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia

Philippine Independence Festivities: Picnic Highlights

Salamat copy

By: Team Update | The quiet banks of the Cooper River slowly buzzed with activity early in the morning of Saturday, June 11 as member associations arrived and started pitching their tents as early as 6 in the morning. The cool breeze coming from the East promises good weather for the day.

Held annually at the Rizal Monument along the Cooper River park, the place was turned into an instant “small Luneta” as member associations (MAs), officers and friends started to arrive with the carloads of equipment and accessories to make the day truly exciting for everyone.

The stage provided by the Camden County government was bare, until a team of eager “installers” arrived.  President Ruth Luyun and FASSJ President Hermie Aczon were on hand to direct everyone top their respective spots; with some MAs claiming their “annual real estate” piece on the beautiful park.

As the blue banner of FECGP was unfurled and installed in front of the stage, it signaled that the Fiesta has began to roll. Sound system checked, “banderettas” hanged and one by one, the MAs canopies and banners hanged; no doubt about it, it is indeed a fiesta.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As food arrived and the delicious aroma and aromatic scents were permeating the air, members, friends and guests smiled at each other, “Magandang umaga po”; everyone was in a festive mood.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At 10 o’clock the parade of members was set to go and MAs lined up as  they are called with their banners proudly displayed. As the walk towards the Rizal and Bataan Monument, everyone was greeted with cheers.

Pres. Ruth Luyun and Consul General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate New York, stepped forward to lay the wreathe at the Rizal Monument. They were later joined by Bb. Pilipinas 2016 Winchell Aleli Delfin.  I felt almost spiritual as everyone stood quietly in reverence to our national hero, Jose Rizal whose death marked the beginning of the revolution that ultimately lead into our independence.

Emcees Gloria Pineda and Past President Ferdie Luyun took turns presenting the program. Mae Claire Tandoc and Shawn Laurencio, wowed the crowed with their rendition of the national anthems of the United States and the Philippines, respectively.

Margieta Cabatbat Tandoc rendered a soulful performance of “Ako ay Filipino” as the crown gathered sang together with her. It was truly a touching moment of remembrance of our 118th Philippine independence anniversary.

Mayor Michael Mignogna accompanied by a Camden County commissioner laid the wreathe at the Bataan Monument; while a young boy played the “Taps”; a fitting and symbolic act of respect and honor upon our heroes and martyrs who died fighting the Japanese alongside their American compatriots during WW2 in the Philippines.

What followed next was indeed a “Fiesta Tradition” where everyone just enjoyed each other’s company; sharing the food as officers, members, friends and guests go hopping and tasting the sumptuous and delicious Filipino food brought by MAs.

A free-wheeling program followed with participants early awaiting their turn and making their presentations to their very best wowing the crowd.

The crowd equally reciprocating with every performances with their loud cheers and applause and an occasional “More! More!”

Everyone was excited in the raffle for 2 place tickets to the Philippines. Our hardworking ticket sellers were making their last rounds offering raffle tickets to hopefuls as the afternoon wanes.

Congratulations to the raffle winners! Although some were not declared winners, everyone felt a winner for such a wonderful day at the park.

Hoping to see you once again next year as we celebrate our Philippine Independence Week.