By: Lou Maningas Cabalona
Just when you think things are slowing down after the month long smash hit series of events for Filipino American History Month, Chicago brings it up a notch with 3 big events in the Filipino American community that brings diplomatic superstars, national influencers and outstanding Fil Am personalities in the Midwest literally under one roof.
The highly anticipated weekend kicks off with an FPACC Mixer, Friday evening, November 8 2019 organized by the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce as a welcome reception to the members and guests of chambers based in Greater Chicago, Washington, D.C., Greater Houston, Arizona, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Diego, Silicon Valley, South Bay Los Angeles area, Oregon and Central Florida who are coming together for the 2019 FPACC Bi-National Conference Tour at Hyatt Regency Chicago O’Hare. Guests and speakers include Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Henry Childs II, National Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and Cenon C. Audencial, Jr., Executive Vice President of the Philippine National Bank.
Saturday morning, a Town Hall Meeting with Philippine Ambassador to the US, Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez gathered 180 community leaders at Tita Mia’s Filipino restaurant in Niles and was attended by local officials including Mayor Edwenna Perkins of Maywood, Bolingbrook Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler and Illinois Appellate Judge (First District, 4thDivision) Judge Justice Jesse Reyes. Addressing the audience from no less than 50 Fil-Am organizations from the Midwest, the Ambassador spoke of the rapidly growing economy of the Philippines and the relationship between the two countries which is firmly anchored on mutual respect and, the recognition that both are independent and sovereign nations. Ambassador Babe also candidly answered questions from the community before breaking bread over lunch.
Now on its twenty-fifth year, the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame Awards is the most-awaited gala event of the Filipino community in Chicago, with a crowd of nearly 700 in attendance Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Chicago O’Hare. The event has established a high-profile visibility for Filipinos and Filipino Americans in mainstream America, recognizing outstanding Filipino Americans in all kinds of profession and talents. Other notable dignitaries recognized during the gala were Filipino American Former Bellevue, Nebraska Mayor Rita Sanders, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Filipino American candidate for Illinois Supreme Court and Cook County Circuit Court Appellate Judge Jesse Reyes, and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
Finally, Subtle Filipino Traits, a facebook group online with over forty three thousand members fittingly caps the weekend with a laid back and casual meetup at Brew Lounge, a Filipino owned Café in Des Plaines with SFT Founder Michelle Macrohon visiting from California. SFT describes itself as a community bringing together Pinoys from across the world and a place where kababayans can celebrate their Filipino identity. SFT members, admins and guests comprised of mostly college students and young professionals, “kicked it” with some karaoke, games as well as a chance to talk about what’s happening in the community and opportunities to collaborate on future projects over boba and coffee.
Key organizers and performers of the FPACC Mixer by the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce held last Nov 8 (Top row fr L to R) Lakhi Siap, EJ Luna, Chicago Chapter President Edgar Jimenez, Jan Paul Ferrer of Morgan Stanley, John Kniker, Louella and Baron Cabalona of SamaSama Project, FPACC Executive Director Ryyn Chua Schumacher, Atty. Aurora Austriaco, Chicago Chapter President Emiritus Cindy Flores, Cleo Aquino, (Bottom Row) Giga Yanong and Ran Sevilla of SamaSama Project.
Melody Dizon, Nancy and Jonathan Abeira and Kay Oballo pose for a shot while listening to SamaSama Project, the main entertainment for the FPACC Mixer, Nov 8 2019 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare (Credits: Mark Mabaquiao)
With Filipino American Candidate for Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois First District Appellate Court Judge Jesse Reyes
With Michelle Macrohon, the founder of Facebok group, Subtle Filipino Traits
At the FilCom TownHall with the Philippine Ambassador to the US, Nov 9 2019 at Tita Mia’s in Niles – (fr L to R) FYLPRO Alumni Abbey Eusebio, Jan Paul Ferrer, Everett Icao, Louella Cabalona, Consul General Gina Jamoralin, Ambassador Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, fellow 2018 FYLPRO alumni Joshua Ang Price with sister Thea Price and Baron Cabalona, Eloise Bregaudit and guest.
Louella Cabalona representing Via Times and FYLPRO asks Ambassador Romualdez a question about how to partner with the embassy to encourage dual citizenship among the youth and lobby for more inclusive laws pertaining to dual citizenship eligibility (Credits: Chicago PCG)
Subtle Filipino Traits meetup at Filipino owned café Brew Lounge (fr L to R) Baron and Baby Reign Cabalona, UniPro members Edward Raya, Kevin Tee, Jehv Maravilla, Marko Dacpano, Carline Dayon, Unamed Guest and Jon Taala; Lakhi Siap, Michelle Macrohon and Louella Cabalona.
With some distinguished awardees at the 25th Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame last Nov 9, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare – Chicago based powerhouse singer Ms. Marilou Ventura; hardworking and charming Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas; Restauranteur and TV Personality Billy Dec who recently announced his documentary Food. Roots. Philippines. to be telecast on PBS first quarter of 2020.
Family comes first! Sisters Lee Maningas and Louella Cabalona with 18 month old, Reign Malaya Cabalona at the 2019 Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame.
Friends at the Hall Of Fame (fr L to R) Jan Paul Ferrer, Paula Arnedo, Everett Icao, Jason Delarosa, Maryrose Ople, siblings Alexa and Matt Alfaro, and Louella Cabalona.