Western Union tapping Chicago Fil-Ams as a major market


From left: Stephanie Judal, Grace Garcia and Johanna Cook holding free samples from Western Union event partner Magnolia Ice Cream. PINOY

CHICAGO — “It’s all about bringing the Filipino American community together,” said Johanna Cook, spokesman for Magnolia Ice Cream, who was giving away free ice cream samples the free movie screening of “Achy Breaky Heart” at the Skokie AMC Village Theater Oct. 6.

Cook handed out flavors such as ube with cheese, Thai iced tea, coffee with chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream to guests at the movie theater.


The screening was hosted and sponsored by Western Union, which partnered with Magnolia Ice Cream, Piyesta Pinoy and the Philippine Consulate General.

This is the first year Western Union has sponsored a free movie screening in Chicago. Last year it sponsored a free movie screening of “A Love Affair” in San Francisco and Los Angeles only.


Expanding markets

“Now, we’ve expanded to other markets such as Chicago, then we’re going to go to New York next week on Oct. 13,” said Stephanie Judal, Western Union Marketing Manager for the U.S.

“Achy Breaky Heart” was released in late June of this year. It raked in P14 million on its opening day. It stars telenovela actors Jodi St. Maria (“Pangako Sa Iyo”), Richard Yap and Ian Veneracion. The comedy-romance is about a 30-something singleton, Chinggay (Jodi), trying to choose which guy she truly loves.

“Western Union has actually partnered with our community by sponsoring Piyesta Pinoy,” said Ruben Salazar, a member of the Philippine American Cultural Foundation (PACF).

“I’m excited that finally the rest of the corporate sponsors such as Western Union, Jollibee and Seafood city are recognizing Chicago as a big market for Filipino Americans,” said Salazar.

“Before, people were wondering why Chicago didn’t have a Jollibee or a Seafood City. I have to give credit to Piyesta Pinoy because it brought the Filipinos together. We finally have an event with over 7,000 people. We’ve never had an event like that.”

“Our [Filipino] events are usually held separately within their own groups. If we merge and work together, we can have a big Philippine Independence Day event,” he said.


Filipino movies to mainstream

Filipino movies are trying to go mainstream in the U.S. just like the Bollywood movies, said Judal.

Are Filipinos in the US as interested in telenovelas as Filipinos back home or are they different?


TDW+Co. Account Manager Gephine Fernandez-Tran (left) and Western Union Manager for the U.S. Stephanie Judal at the reception of “Achy Breaky Hearts.” PINOY

“I really think they’re all the same. We [Filipinos] love that cheesy love, comedy drama. It’s just super fun.”

“You can relate to the story,” said Fil-Am Mark Tan. Although he would prefer a horror or action movie, Tan was interested in seeing the movie and brought along his curious Caucasian friend Alex Grinshpun.

“I’m hoping it has subtitles,”Grinshpun said.

Tan said that he “doesn’t really get a chance to see Filipino movies except when he visits the Philippines.”

Eugenia Panganiban of Skokie came for the free screening because she is a fan of the three main actors. “I was interested in seeing it when it first came out,” she said.

“We wanted to give back to the Filipino American community so we had these free screenings for our customers, as well as potential customers, family and friends, elected officials and community leaders. We want to thank everyone who came out today to check out the movie,” said Judal.

“We’re hoping we have the budget to do more screenings next year in other parts of the US that have big Filipino communities like Las Vegas or Washington D.C.,” she explained.

Western Union is a money remittance company that is 160 years old. Money can be remitted to 200 countries online or through a Western Union phone app.

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TAGS: Achy Breaky Heart, Filipino American market, Filipino ice cream, Filipino movies, Filipino telenovelas, Magnolia Ice Cream, Marketing, Piyesta Pinoy, Remittances, Skokie AMC Village, Western Union
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