FilAm Elated Over Sen. Kerry’s Nomination

by Joseph G. Lariosa

 

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – If there is a Filipino American, who is overly excited over President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sen. John Kerry to replace Hillary Rodham  Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State, it is no other than Mario Cendana Panoringan of Daly City in California.

Panoringan, community leader and former community newspaper publisher, described on Christmas Eve the nomination of Senator Kerry as “an excellent choice of President Obama as our country’s new U.S. Secretary of State.”

A co-founder and former president/publisher of the San Francisco, California-based Fil Am Star News and Chief Executive Officer of the Daly City-Colma Chamber of Commerce, he also wished Senator Kerry, “All the best always and a heartfelt Christmas wishes to you and Mrs. Kerry on this Holiday Season.”

The active civic leader was placed in an enviable but surprising choice of then Daly City Mayor AdriennTissier (pronounced (tee-shay) to introduce then Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry before a big campaign crowd in 2004.

Panoringan said he is hopeful Senator Kerry will prove equal to the grueling challenges that attach to the premiere position as U.S. Secretary of State, the primus inter pares (first among equals) of the Cabinet positions and the fourth in line to presidential succession after the Vice President, Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate.

Some time in August 2004 of that presidential year, Panoringan recalled that he was pleasantly surprised to get a call from a communications official of the Kerry Presidential Campaign from Washington, D.C., sizing him up if he wanted “to escort, welcome and introduce Mr. Kerry” before some 400 Californians in Daly City.

Thinking it was just a prank, the then 56-year-old Panoringan signed on off-the-cuff to the suggestion.

“60-SECOND CLAIM TO FAME”

But he was surprised it was for real when he actually played the part. He said it was surreal because he was given such assignment over other state, county and city officials.

Although, it was his mere “60-second claim to fame,” he felt it was an eternity as lots of dignitaries, including Senator Kerry, complimented him for his yeoman effort.  “It was like a dream,” he now recalls. Others, who commended him, were then California State Insurance Commissioner (now U.S. California Congressman of the 10th District) John Garamendi and Lina Susbilla, member of the Commission on the Status of Women of the County of San Mateo, which embraces Daly City.

A son of a Filipino World War II veteran, himself, Panoringan recalled that what made his day during his introduction was Senator Kerry’s pledge during his speech to support the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill (HR 677), then pending in Congress, if he were elected President that November. Senator Kerry, however, later lost to Al Gore, during the presidential primary.

As a life-long Democrat, Panoringan’s meeting with Senator Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign was not to be the first nor the last. “I intentionally attended a fund-raiser here in San Francisco Bay Area a couple of years back, when he (Senator Kerry) was the featured “Special Guest” and he did remember me. Hopefully, he still does.”

During the 2012 presidential elections,  Panoringan said he actively campaigned for the re-election of President Obama.

When asked by this reporter if he is willing to be appointed as “point man” by upcoming Secretary of State Kerry among the Filipino and Filipino American communities, Panoringan said, “Of course, I will always be at his beck and call if such will advance the interest of the Filipino and Filipino American communities in the United States.”

Now 63 years old, Panoringan said he went into semi-retirement in 1999 at age 50 after spending 25 years managing his own agency in the insurance and financial services industry.

He later became consultants on such accounts as Outback Steakhouse, Fuddruckers Restaurant, Century Park Hotel, Philippine Airlines, Cold Stone Ice Cream, Lucky Group of Companies, Goldilocks-SSF, Seton Medical Center and LUNEX Telecom.

Panoringan also became chair of the Daly City Planning Commission, which oversaw the approval of the $200-M Pacific Plaza Project and chaired the first ever Trade and Tourism Mission to the Philippines between 1998-1999.

A holder of a Bachelors Degree in Commerce from the University of Luzon,  Panoringan was his university’s keynote speaker in 1997, when he received the university’s Most Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)
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PHOTO CAPTION:
INTRODUCING THEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KERRY — Filipino American Mario Cendana Panoringan (left) gets the full attention of Sen. John Kerry (right), who was running for president in 2004.  Panoringan introduced Sen. Kerry during a town hall meeting at Westmoor High School gymnasium in Daly City, California in August 2004 before some 400 Californians. (FAXX/jGLi File Photo by Adrianne Gonzales)

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