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‘As Hall of Famers, We Are All Dreamers’


By: Veronica Leighton


Here’s my brief speech delivered at the 23rd annual gala event of the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame 2017…

“I am really honored to welcome this wonderful & distinguished group of 2017 inductees into this most prestigious awards ceremony in our community as we also celebrate the Filipino American History Month in this month of October.

Filipinos living in this blessed country have gone a long way and have contributed so much in sharing their talents, ingenuity, intelligence and professionalism in this adopted country of ours. As a Filipino, I know that each one of us had a dream to go to America for better opportunities. Each one of us have a dream, quoting from Dr. Martin Luther King, and from our Man of the Year Richard Felicelda in his beautiful speech which you will hear later, a dream that we pursued and still pursuing to this point in time despite many trials and errors in our lives. This is the reason that the distinguished Hall of Fame awardees that we are honoring tonight are here, seated at the headtable and will be receiving our beautiful crystal trophy awards. They all have a dream and they are all proud that they took a risk in pursuing that dream, for a dream of fulfilling and a dream of sharing what they have reaped through their talents, intelligence & hard work as immigrants in this country.

We hear several tales and unbelievable stories from so many people, and that includes my story in the media industry for almost 35 years, without a journalism degree, and in producing this hall of fame production for 23 years for the purpose of honoring such impressive, high-achieving individuals from all over the world, likewise getting recognition as the only Filipino woman to start and survive in this very competitive print and broadcast media industry in North America. Well, that’s another story to tell.

We are here tonight to give salute, congratulate & celebrate with these deserving inductees of this most prestigious HOF award, our role models, our heroes and our inspirations.

Please rise & join me in giving cheering words of MABUHAY to our 2017 Chicago Filipino Asian American batch of Hall of Famers. Mabuhay! Salute to all of you! “

Let me share with you some love notes/messages that I received from some hall of famers and guests…

(From Marie Cunning, VIA Woman of the Year) “Although it’s been a week, I’m still in a happy & euphoric mood since receiving my Woman of the Year Award from the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame. It was a great honor standing shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow Awardees representing the best of the best in their respective industries. It never ceases to amaze me, the talent, leadership and commitment that is prevalent in our Asian American community. The event was a success and actually quite impressive and well organized. Kudos to the Producers of the event ViaTimes and CPR TV, to my friends Veronica Leighton and Joe Mauricio, for a successful and prestigious event. Thanks to everybody involved in making the event a huge success, we truly appreciate you. Thanks to Jovie Calma, Ryan Tejero, and Louella Baron Maningas Cabalona for taking good care of all the Awardees. Thanks to Joe and Cindy Flores for nominating me. Thanks to all my friends who placed full page ads to support me, Rose Tibayan, Fleur Magbanua, FPACC, PACC Chicago, Armin Sayson and Joe and Cindy. I can’t wait to return to the festivities next year. Via Times and CPRTV, you rock!”

(From Dr. Gloria Millare, of Silayan Association Singers) “I felt elated that Silayan Association has been recognized for its sacred service through music. The crystal was quite heavy. The rice was an added boon. Dinner was fabulous. The event had a good flow of speeches, songs, and dances and was quite entertaining. Indeed, it was a memorable and momentous evening! Thanks again to VIA Times/CRPTV, and Louella Cabalona who nominated Silayan!”

(From Janice Dantes, Attorney-at-Law, Awardee of HOF Excellence in Law): “Thank you again for allowing me to be part of the event. I sent you final payment for the table and ads so you should be receiving it soon.

Below are my thoughts on the event: I feel very humbled and honored to be part of such an accomplished group of individuals. It was an inspiration to me and I hope it inspires more Filipinos to strive for excellence. It was amazing so many Filipinos in one room supporting our fellow kababayan.

Unforgettable networking moment: I was so honored that Mr. Jerry Barrido agreed to accept my invitation to sit at my table. I am so proud to be supported by such a remarkable lawyer and welcome the opportunity to support him in his candidacy for Cook County judge.

How I think I can contribute to my God-given talent to this community cause: My next project is to organize a pro bono legal clinic geared at helping the Filipino community in Chicago and its surrounding communities. Many other communities have a pro bono clinic. Seeing the tremendous needs in our community, I hope to provide legal services to those who cannot afford it and ensure that our community has a voice.”

(From Ravi Baichwal of ABC 7, recipient of Outstanding Asian American in Media award, in his FB post: “Honored to receive the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame award for media excellence tonight at the Hyatt Regency Rosemont. The Fil-Am community’s Via Times has sponsored these awards for 23 years. Such lovely builders of the Chicago community. Thank you!” Thanks so much, Ravi, for bringing your cameraman and featuring our gala event on ABC 7’s community news, as watched by thousands of people. ###


Group picture of the jubilant 2017 inductees of the Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame together with the VT/ CPRTV staff onstage, taken after the awards ceremony held last October 14, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.


Consul General Generoso Calonge delivering inspirational speech to the 2017 Hall of Famers and guests.


Marie Cunning, from Arizona, President of the Federation of the Philippine American Chambers of Commerce, the guest speaker. Emcee Nick Vera Perez is shown with Ms. Cunning.


Group photo of the 2017 Hall of Famers at the gala headtable, from left to right: Lain & Nell Frias (Model Family); Michael Vianzon (Excellence in Engineering), Larry Ventresca (Friend of the Filipino); Olivia Trinquand (Excellence in Entertainment); Mayor Rita Gomez Sanders (Government Service); Dr. Gina Omiotek (Excellence in Medicine-Family Practice); Roselle Olea (Community Leadership); Patricia Leonardo (Young Achiever in Entrepreneurship); Mar Lapena (Excellence in Fashion Design); Ben Inventor (Excellence in Nursing Education); Louis de Guzman (Visual Art); Richard Felicelda (VIA Man of the Year 2017); Gemma Esmalla-Kosanam (Nursing Executive Education Leadership); Carlota Domantay (Humanitarian/Community Service); Attorney Janice Dantes (Excellence in Law); Marie Cunning (VIA Woman of the Year 2017); Dr. Marjerie Badilla (Excellence in Aesthetic Medicine); Ravi Baichwal (Outstanding Asian American in Media). Not in photo is Silayan Association Singers.

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