When I left My Philippines in 2007, my connection with my Filipino friends and family have been limited in more ways than one.
Living in Maine for over 7 years now, I somehow learned how to downsize and that includes my circle of friends. I'm not saying this in a bad way. In fact, I love it. Having just a couple of Filipino friends who I can call and visit anytime I'm having serious Filipino food cravings makes my life simple and uncomplicated.
Yes, for the first time in forever... I found myself in the company of almost close to a hundred Filipinos at The Consular Outreach Service of The Philippine Consulate General New York which was hosted and organized by a dear friend Ate Tess Cardona at Days Inn in South Portland.
Some early birds filing up forms and catching up with each other.
The event was such an overwhelming experience for me. I was happy to be a part of this outreach service where I got the chance to mingle with fellow kababayans for the entire day. It was fun to talk to people who speak the same language and chat without the pressure of translating your thoughts in the English language. Though some speak in dialect, still just looking at them knowing that you have the same color of skin and same thick black shiny hair (well, some of them had already dyed their hair blond, wink*) and feeling that you are not different at all was an awesome experience.
It was fun to see some Filipino merchandize on sale because gathering like this where the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit is always a part of the event is something to look forward to. It was a good opportunity to acquire Filipino items without the hassle of waiting for the package coming from Motherland. And that includes TFC - The Filipino Channel cable boxes that bring Filipino movies, local news and TV shows right in the Filipino living rooms here in the United States.
Souvenir shirts and jackets with printed Filipino wordings as well as Philippine flags were on sale too.
And of course, the famous Parol made of capiz which is just fit for the coming Christmas season.
It was also a great opportunity for me to interview the Head of the Team of the Philippine Consulate General New York - Vice Consul Bong Carino who was very accommodating and approachable. Together with his highly knowledge staff, our kababayans (fellow Filipino) were given the opportunity to process needed paperworks for Dual Citizenship, Philippine Passport Renewal and other legal document processing which are basically the purpose of the outreach program.
The efficient staff of the Philippine Consulate General New York.
Vice Consul Bong Carino with the staff taking a little break.
Oath Taking Ceremony of the new Dual Citizens with Vice Consul Bong Carino.
According to Vice Consul Carino, the Consular Outreach is a yearly event which goal is to provide these kind of services to Filipinos in 10 states (Connecticut, Delaware,Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont) in the northeastern part of the Unite States. They have been serving our kababayans for almost 15 years now.
The Volunteers with Vice Consul Carino. (From left, Ate Tess Cardona, Jocelyn Santiago, V-C Bong Carino, Jocelyn Jans and of course, Moi.)
Me with Vice Consul Carino after the interview.
With Ate Tess Cardona and Mr. Israel Lacson Inciong of TFC Pinoy Time Food Mart - one of the generous sponsons of the event.
The event was a great success. It was well attended and supported by other Filipinos who also sponsored the events like Mr. Lacson of TFC Pinoy Time Food Mart and Pinoy Design. And yes, we are also grateful that representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor Brian Sullivan and Patricia Colarossi came to the event to provide assistance and relevant information regarding "work and the workplace" to our Kababayans.
After the last batch of Dual Citizens was sworn-in, the organizers started planning for the next event for 2015. The last paperwork was processed before 2pm so we were able to clean up early and that gave the Consulate Staff a chance to go shopping for some lobstah.