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In welcoming TOFA-NY, Bloomberg salutes ‘vibrant’ Filipino community


Bessie Badilla and Jose Antonio Vargas PHOTO/Troi Santos

Mayor Mike Bloomberg said he is pleased to welcome The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York event to be held October 27 at the historic Carnegie Hall.

“From Woodside to neighborhoods across the five boroughs, our Filipino communities are some of our most vibrant,” he said in a statement issued in connection with the city’s celebration of October as Filipino American History Month. “This event is a wonderful chance to celebrate the many contributions that Filipino Americans have made in everything from government and business to medicine and the arts.”

TOFA-NY is an annual awards event recognizing exemplary FilAms who have done well in their trade and professions. Last years’ honorees were led by Pulitzer winning journalist and Define American founder

Jose Antonio Vargas, exponent of Brinoy (Brazil-Pinoy) music and former fashion model Bessie Badilla and US  Marshals Southern District of New York spokesman Roland Ubaldo.

This year’s TOFA-NY voting remains in progress via Facebook, further energizing a community that is said to be among the most engaged social media networkers. The voting, which was launched in July will end midnight of October 5. The awarding ceremony will be held Oct 27 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with TV coverage provided by GMA International.

Vargas and Badilla will co-host this year’s awarding ceremony, backed by a powerhouse lineup of entertainers led by Broadway actors Adam Jacobs (“The Lion King”) and Ali Ewoldt (“Les Miserables”) and classical dancer Roberto Villanueva of BalaSole Dance Co.

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and CEO-philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis will deliver inspirational messages. Local artists who will provide additional musical variety include Gail Banawis, Kay Habana, Alyssa Shoemaker and Tiffany Viray. The winner of this year’s The Filipino School of NY/NJ essay contest will do a public reading of the winning essay with the theme “I am Filipino because…”

Last year, De Leon hailed the use of “innovative social networking platforms” in making transparent the final choice on who would make the list of the Outstanding Filipinos in New York. These voters are “the people whose lives were touched, inspired and affected by our honorees,” he said.

Click here to see this year’s nominees and to vote for your favourite Filipino American. The Heritage Awards, which is a non-voting recognition, will honor six organizations that have been a steady and enduring presence in the community.

“As we celebrate Filipino American History Month, we are proud to honor the many men and women of Filipino descent who remain committed to making our great city even better,” said Bloomberg.

The TOFA-NY board is led by Elton Lugay, with Grace Hufano Labaguis and Ronald Labaguis, Myrna de Guia Gutierrez and Rolan Gutierrez as co-producers. Marisse Panlilio and Cristina DC Pastor are co-founders.

Last year, TOFA-NY was included in a package of programming which won for GMA International recognition for ethnic programming. This year’s supporters include Jerry Sibal who will be designing Olympic-style medals for the winners, Western Union and Direct TV, Blakely Hotel,

The Wonder Boys and Girls Club, Filipino Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Payag restaurant.

Tickets to this year’s ceremony are available at Carnegie Hall’s CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by contacting any member of the TOFA board.

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