Special to the Filipino Reporter

Friends and colleagues of Vicky Garchitorena, former president of the Ayala Foundation USA and PhilDev, recently met in New York City during a private dinner reception at the residence of longtime friend Loida Nicolas Lewis.

About 30 guests made up of Fil-Am community leaders, volunteers of GILAS (a computer in the Philippine schools initiative of AFUSA), U.S. political and Fil-Am media showed up to welcome Ms. Vicky G.

Ms. Garchitorena spoke about her charity and political work in the Philippines.

While she talked about women and livelihood initiatives she also spoke at length about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Touching on killings, drugs and recent impeachment case filed on March 16.

“He’s wrong for the country. I am very upset,” she said, indicating that President Duterte was not an ideal role model for the children of the Philippines.

She urged the Filipino-American community to get informed and find and create ways to improve situation in the home land.

“Be more informed and political engage.” (Quoted from ABS-CBN’s “Balitang America.”)

According to Noel Vales, an attorney in New York and former co-chair of the New York Steering Committee of AFUAA, Ms. Garchitorena was a great source of information about the Philippines.  

He said, “People need to be aware and it’s time to speak out and express where we approve and where we disapprove on what’s going on. That’s what democracy is all about.” (Quoted from ABS-CBN’s “Balitang America.”)

In addition, Ms. Garchitorena spoke about her work with SPARK (Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran) where the non-profit trains the government sector on proper implementation of the Gender and Development Law in addition to training women livelihood groups and entrepreneurs.

SPARK recently opened Likhang Pilipina, a women’s marketplace, at Ali Mall, the first Philippine major shopping center in Cubao, Quezon City, to give women enterprises a platform for selling their products.  

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A number of commemorative coins of the People’s Power in the Philippines were sold to fund training of women entrepreneurs and livelihood groups, and support local drug rehab centers at this private event.

Victoria Garchitorena (3rd from right) with JCI Philippine-New York, International Affairs. From left, Vikram Jagtiani, with President Alex Drogeanu, IAVP Malik Kahli, Adviser Vivian Velasco and COB Stevenson Van Derodar.

“I attended the reception to welcome Vicky Garchitorena and her presentation of the many humanitarian projects she continuously supports in the Philippines, hence funding to develop women entrepreneurs,” said Darlene Dilangalen Borromeo of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, VP Region 1 Membership.

Stevenson Van Derodar said, “We came to the event on the prospect of doing an international project particularly to support initiatives about livelihood and drug rehabilitation. We are aware of the disturbing numbers of the drug related deaths in the Philippines.”

“Year after year, we try our best to strengthen internationalism efforts with the Philippines and other countries. Last year, we supported Beyond Prison Wall, a project of JCI Perlas Pasay about giving livelihood opportunities for the detainees in numerous centers in Manila,” said Mr. Van Derodar, who was past Chairman and President of the Philippine New York Jaycees.

Commenting on a blogger’s report that this private dinner was a fundraiser lead by Mrs. Lewis to oust President Duterte, he said, “We are very pleased to hear ongoing multi-sectoral and NGO initiatives to help the families. It was a very warm night, full of concern and love of our country. There was never a mention about ousting Philippine President Duterte nor funding for the same. Otherwise, we (Jaycees) would not participate [in such activities.]”

The evening was a private social gathering to welcome an old friend and colleague.

Members of the Fil-Am community, as well as local media were present and can attest that this event was a rare opportunity for Ms. Garchitorena to share with us what she has been doing in the Philippines, including her works to help women and families, as well as her political activities to ensure a safe and successful Philippines.

“Seeing Vicky again and her enthusiasm for women’s and livelihood initiatives in the Philippines has once again inspired me to participate in any way I can,” said Maryann Hillman, “and reminded that we are always needed. I cannot forget how her past leadership of Ayala Foundation and PhilDev has taught me that every little bit helps and there are many ways in which we could contribute to our biological motherland. From frundraising to collecting books to mentoring, they are all part of building and re-building communities.”

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