PAINTING THE TOWN RED: Consul General Mario Lopez de Leon, Jr. and wife Eleanor celebrate Poinsettia Ball with close to 500 guests from the Filipino-American community.  (Photo by YetBo/LoveRita)

The annual Poinsettia Christmas Ball was made extra special this year when organizers Friends Indeed USA, Inc. and Philippine Hearts and Hopes Society, Inc. along with other Filipino community organizations presented a Special Citation to Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. as “Man of the Year” at the Astoria World Manor in New York on Dec. 6, 2015.

Cora Reyes of Friends Indeed USA, Inc. announced the award and read the accomplishments of the consul general since his assumption in New York.

She mentioned his brainchild projects “Build A Shelter” which funded 102 houses for Yolanda victims in Samar and Leyte; “Leadership and Mentoring Seminar” to empower the Second-Generation members of the community; “Warden System” to facilitate assistance to nationals in distress; “Homecoming sa Konsulado” which fosters fellowship among school alumni associations, among other major initiatives which promote the interests of the community in the U.S. Northeast.

After Reyes’ tribute, other organizations such as the Philippine American Association of Connecticut, the Philippine American Friendship Committee, Knights of Rizal, Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Association of Filipino Teachers in America, among others, chimed in to give their citations to the consul general.

In his acceptance speech, de Leon thanked the organizations behind the award led by Friends Indeed USA, Inc. and the Philippine Hearts and Hopes Society, Inc. — for recognizing his work.

He stressed his commitment to help elevate the profile of Filipinos in the U.S. Northeast and the entire United States, which guides his work as the consul general.

He cited the community’s strength being the second largest ethnic minority in the whole U.S., and third largest in the tri-state area.

He reiterated his vision to the community, that the Fil-Am organizations be sustained by leadership of the emerging generation, all the while encouraging more Filipinos to take on leadership roles in the mainstream American society.

The consul general shared his award with the Filipinos of the U.S. Northeast for their participation in the Consulate’s programs which enabled him to accomplish his missions successfully, and his wife Eleanor who has been with him in most of the community activities.

The red-motif event attracted about 500 attendees this year, which hopes to raise funds for medical, surgical and humanitarian missions of Friends Indeed USA, Inc. in 2016.

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