The author, Manuel Caballero (standing, 2nd from left), with “Under 40 generation” persons during a comedy show by J. Ariel Q. Aggabao in Jersey City, N.J. recently.  (Photo by Amira Allahh)

ONE of the legacies that the late Bert Pelayo left our community was contained in an editorial he wrote some years ago when he called on the second generation (I call them Under 40 generation, including those slightly over) of Filipino-Americans to come out and get involved.

Those who are taking over the helm of the Filipino Reporter now that Bert is gone made it clear in this week’s editorial that engagement with the Under 40 generation shall be one of their priorities.

Among other intentions, the editorial said FR shall continue to “encourage and challenge the Under 40 generation of Filipino-Americans to assume leadership roles and get involved in community activities.”

We see this as positive and desirable.

It is encouraging to note, and I hope you also notice, that in our communities in New York and New Jersey, there is a rising involvement of the younger generation in varied community activities.

Let me start with the Filipino-American media.

You may have heard about the Filipino American Press Club of New York.

I do not know about Cristina Dc Pastor, but its members are mostly under 40.

(Ms. Pastor as well as the other “Makilala” beautiful girls must be under 40, too.)

Almost all the persons behind our Fil-Am newspapers are under 40.

L.P., Patrick and Joy, all Pelayos, of this newspaper.

Momar Visaya of the Asian Journal.

I guess, Sonny Austria of the Filipino Express may be slightly over.

Elton Lugay, the guy behind TOFA NY, is definitely under 40.

He is now managing editor of Manila Mail in California.
In local television, TFC’s Don Tagala and the elegant-looking Monette Rivera are both under 40, I think.

I don’t know about Grace Labaguis of GMA, but she looks like one to me.

In fact, the other night, I bumped into her and her husband in the grocery shop.

I didn’t recognize Grace at first.

I thought I was seeing a high school senior wearing eyeglasses.

Let’s go to JCI Philippine New York and JCI North Jersey.

Dr. Alice Sta. Maria Almendral is a well-liked family physician in New York City who is also active in Filipino-American community activities. In 2013, she was Mrs. Philippines International.

These two outstanding community oriented organizations are composed of men and women under 40 years of age.

I’m serious.

Members who reach 40 are banished to the kitchen!

My attention is called by these groups because one of their missions is to train their members for leadership roles in their respective communities.

Ria Serrano, the multi-awarded JCI North Jersey president (yes, Ria is not banished yet. But, Rollie Balanza, Richie Rillera, Paul Verzosa and Vivian Velasco [is she?], among others, had been banished long time ago).


The 30-year-old Peter Mendonez, Jr., Fil-Am councilman of West Windsor Township in New Jersey, is an active member of the seven-month-old JCI North Jersey.

Calling 23-year-old Councilman Jonathan Wong of Mahwah, N.J.

Councilmen Rolando Lavarro, Jr. of Jersey City, N.J. and Arvin Amatorio of Bergenfield, N.J. may have to just remain with the Knights of Rizal together with Judge Victor Sison, Francis Sison and Paul Verzosa, among other pogis and fogies.

The JCI North chapter bagged an award from the recently-held JCI New York & New Jersey State Convention for being an outstanding start-up chapter.

Congrats JCI North Jersey!

In the medical profession, we have Dr. Alice Sta. Maria Almendral who was recently selected by patients as one of top family physicians in Yonkers, N.Y.; Dr. Tessa del Carmen Pelayo; Dr. Amado Ross Sussman, Dr. Melissa Young and many others.

In the music field, we have two under 40 who are making waves.

Tata Kay Habana and Kirby Asunto.

This is not to mention those in Broadway shows.

Kay Habana just emerged from a full house concert at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York City on Feb. 4 dubbed as “Handog Kay Lolo at Lola” (Dedicated to Grandpa and Grandma).

When that concert was being conceptualized, I cautioned Ms. Habana that February is the worst month of winter and she was thinking of asking grandparents to come to New York City in a cold evening.

I may have good reasons.

But Kay had better, and she was bolder.

Kirby Asunto has been singing around southern Philippines for charitable causes.

She just did a concert in Bohol, which raised funds for the restoration of destroyed old churches in Bohol during the earthquake in 2013.

In the spiritual side, the new household leaders of Couples for Christ in New York and New Jersey are mostly under 40.

In the realm of wellness and beauty, majority of our “Ten Prettiest Filipina Americans in the New York-New Jersey area” belong to the second generation of Pinoys in America.

It does not mean that those who belong to the first generation who started our community are to be neglected and ignored.


There must be a “convivencia.”

A constructive living together.

They can teach a lot to the new generation of community leaders and, in turn, the Under 40s could learn from them.

In fact, some of them learned community leadership from their parents, like the Mayos and the Magallons.

This is the new Filipino-American community.

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The author, Manuel Caballero (3rd from left), with Ria Serrano (2nd from left) and members of JCI North Jersey.

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