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Dignitaries at Fiesta In America 2016’s ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, N.J. on Aug. 13. First row, l.-r.: Philippine Commercial Attaché Katrina Banzon, Freeholder Tom Sullivan of Bergen County, Councilwoman-at-large Joyce Watterman, Consul Chowdury Sultana Perveen of the Consulate of Bangladesh, Paulo Avelino, Julia Montes, Mr. Roberto Teo, Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo, Fiesta In America President and CEO Nanding Mendez and Laura Garcia of Silliman University Alumni Association NY-NJ. Second row, l.-r.: Secaucus Councilman Bill McKeever, Goya Foods’ Meriterese Racanelli, Mahwah Councilman Jonathan Wong, Assemblyman Tim Eustace and Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro.


SECAUCUS, N.J. — Fiesta In America’s role in spurring Philippine tourist influx and export outflow received the nod of Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda C. Tulfo-Teo. DOT head Teo led the roster of Philippine and New Jersey dignitaries at Fiesta In America’s 18th Anniversary ribbon-cutting ceremonies at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Expo Center on Aug. 13.

Among the special guests were Philippine Commercial Attaché Katrina Banzon who represented Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Councilwoman-at-large Joyce Watterman, Consul Chowdury Sultana Perveen of the Consulate of Bangladesh, Tom Sullivan of the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Mahwah Councilman Jonathan Wong, Assemblyman Tim Eustace, Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro, ABS-CBN superstars Paulo Avelino and Julia Montes, Secaucus Councilman Bill McKeever, Asian Journal Publisher Roger Oriel, and Ateneo Graduate School of Business Professor Enrique Soriano. Secretary Teo was also the keynote speaker at the People’s Ball at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Newark Airport on Aug. 12.

The People’s Ball is Fiesta In America’s companion gala dinner-dance, which featured a Roaring ‘20s theme this year.

Held on Aug. 13 and 14, Fiesta In America 2016 revolved around a Total Wellness theme, referring to daily practices that lead to a person’s complete well-being.

Major U.S. brands sponsored the Total Wellness concept; making onsite health demonstrations at their respective booths were AARP, Goya Foods, Hackensack Meridian Health, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Meriterese Racanelli, MS, R&D Food Scientist/Nutritionist for Goya Foods internationally and the National Hispanic Medical Association, conducted workshops on how lower sodium, lower-sugar cultural foods and meals can help the U.S. Filipino community reduce blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain issues.

Fiesta In America’s Total Wellness theme extended to financial health as well.

Professor Enrique Soriano of Ateneo’s Graduate School of Business held a well-received forum on franchising opportunities in the Philippines.

According to Prof. Eric, as he is widely known in the Philippines and the ASEAN, “entrepreneurs favor [franchising’s] odds of better return on investment and profit, as well as tried-and-tested systematic business operations that they provide. While the country’s franchising sector can be considered modest compared to the global franchising phenomenon, the time is ripe for Philippine brands to go global.”

While thousands packed Fiesta In America’s Trade Pavilion, the on-stage cultural show again proved to be the two-day event’s biggest crowd-pleaser.

Comedians Jojo Mabolo and Poca Rafael brought the house down with their antics as hosts of the inaugural edition of the Grand Pilipinas Fiesta Pageant, won by Alyssa Jade Shoemaker over three other finalists.

The pre-teen Arato Brothers, Take the Stage Band, Michelle Pross, the Dance Philippines Performing Arts Company of Boston (Mass.), Sounds of Manila (aka Ambassadors of OPM), the youthful but oldies-inspired Band of Brothers from the Philippines, and Lounge Queen Jo Awayan provided several hours worth of high caliber song-and-dance entertainment.

According to Ogie Afable, the cultural show’s Executive Producer, “Fiesta In America continues to be a high-profile springbroad for unheralded talents to shine. Towards the end of both evenings, however, A List performing artists from the Philippines demonstrate why they are Fiesta In America’s biggest draw. Philippine teleserye royalty and film sensations Paulo Avelino and Julia Montes did not disappoint; the roof was raised with their live performance on the stage, a facet of their abilities that is not commonly known to their legions of film and TV fans in the U.S.”

For more information about Fiesta In America’s 18th Anniversary edition and how to take part as sponsors, exhibitors or advertisers next year, visit www.fiestainamerica.com or follow Fiesta In America on Facebook.

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