LET THE FUN BEGIN: Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. (center) cuts the ribbon to start the Fiesta In America at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, N.J. on Aug. 16. Looking on are retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (5th from left), Nanding Mendez (8th from left), Fiesta In America President and CEO; comedienne Fe de los (9th from left), Concert King Martin Nievera (10th from left), film and television heartthrob Jericho Rosales (5th from right), and community leaders.  (Photo by YetBo/LoveRita)

Concert King Martin Nievera and superstar Jericho Rosales, ABS-CBN contract artists, and famed comedienne Fe de los Reyes wowed the packed concert audience on both days of Fiesta In America (Aug. 16 and 17) at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, N.J.

Widely considered as the most significant indoor expo on the East Coast for and about Filipino-Americans, Fiesta In America marked its 16th anniversary with a special focus on Philippine tourism.

“We purposely shone the spotlight on promoting tourism throughout the Fiesta,” said Nanding Mendez, Fiesta In America President and CEO, “by devoting more than five full pages on TIEZA (Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority), as well as the DOT (Department of Tourism) in Fiesta Talks Magazine, by featuring DOT videos on the jumbo screen, by installing tourism-related banners all over the Expo Center, and by peppering the concert hosts’ script with exhortations to the audience to proudly spread the word about the Philippines as a world-class attraction.”

Comic and singer de los Reyes set the stage for the TFC stars with her hilarious and, at times, bittersweet take on the plight of overstaying or undocumented Filipinos.

De los Reyes punctuated her rendition of Lionel Richie’s melancholy “Hello, Is It Me You’re Looking For?” with jarring blasts of her phone’s ring tone and the amusing ways Pinoys would nervously answer, depending on their illegal immigrant situation.

Swooning female members of the concert audience, meanwhile, proved why Jericho Rosales is the reigning film and TV heartthrob.

By coming down from the stage and engaging in “selfies” with his smart phone- and iPad-wielding fans, the actor-singer gave the concert audience a night to remember and to share on social network.

On the other hand, the Philippines’ reigning Concert King, Martin Nievera, oozed with the cool-crooner charm that has thrilled Filipino record-buyers and concert audiences throughout the world for more than 15 years.

As a welcome surprise, Nievera was joined on stage by his son Robin on guitar and vocals.

The younger Nievera showcased the talents of three generations of Nievera performing artists (Robin’s grandfather Bert was a member of the celebrated Society of Seven, a popular 70s pop group).

The concert was capped by a rousing finale featuring Rosales and Nievera on stage with the “Ambassadors of Original Pinoy Music (OPM),” the Sounds of Manila.

Fiesta In America’s 16th anniversary edition also featured AARP workshops on caring for elderly loved ones, presented by retired Maj. Gen. Antonio “Tony” Taguba, and on how to ensure financial stability for the 50+, by financial expert Donna Ortega from AARP’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

AARP made its debut at the Fiesta as major sponsor.

Other workshops included an instructional presentation for first-time homebuyers by Melvin Castillo of the United Northern Mortgage Bankers (also a first-time Fiesta sponsor); seminars on chronic pain by Drs. Michael Lacap and Michael Failla; and free skin diagnosis by cosmetologist Joey Bautista Cruz.

True to its tradition of promoting new Filipino performing artists, Fiesta In America presented a varied cast that included the Sounds of Manila, the award-winning dancing duo of Craig and Samantha Campos-Abaya, pop standouts Oliver Dagum and Alyssa Jade Shoemaker, as well as rock and pop bands Friends of Enemies, Heart’s Desire, and Take the Stage.

And as a reflection of Fiesta’s growing inclusiveness, performers from the Asian community (Cherry Hill Chinese Dance Group, the Jung Traditional Korean Dance Academy) and the Latino community (Anayka, Pagia Musik and Tailon) rounded up the live concerts on both nights of the Fiesta with widely varying styles.

“Together with the trade pavilion that overflowed with export-quality products from the Philippines, the coronation of the first Fiesta King and Queen International, the seniors’ pavilion that included a simultaneous chess exhibition by chess master Nonoy Rafael, the children’s pavilion, and a food court stocked with dishes from various Philippine regions, Fiesta In America’s Sweet 16 was a complete day of entertainment for the whole family and an avenue for Filipino small business to directly market their products and services,” said Mendez.

“The event will continue to be a strong bond that keeps the Fil-Am community of the northeast cohesive.”

To participate in the 2015 Fiesta in America, call 212.682.6610; e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or visit

Stars (from left) Martin Nievera, Fe de los Reyes and Jericho Rosales dazzle the crowd last weekend at Fiesta In America at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, N.J.  (Photo by YetBo/LoveRita)

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