PAFCOM reinvigorates the community with a grand parade and festival on June 26

by Ricky Rillera

| PAFCOM Poster

JERSEY CITY – After two years of lockdown due to Covid-19, the Philippine American Friendship Community, Inc. (PAFCOM), one of Jersey City’s premier community organizations, renews its presence by highlighting Filipino heritage and culture as it celebrates its 30th anniversary with a Parade and Festival on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

“We are back after two years of hiatus, so we are coming back with a bang!” Helen Castillo, past PAFCOM president, told the Philippine Daily Mirror.

KC Concepcion | Photo via Wikimedia

Maria Kristina “Cassandra” Concepcion, famous as “KC,” will be this year’s special guest. KC is the daughter of megastar Sharon Cuneta and actor Gabby Concepcion. Like her mother, she is an actress, singer, and former TV host. KC is also a dancer and may show her form and style on Sunday. She has recently wrapped up the filming of Asian Persuasion in New York. The feature film, set in New York, marks the directorial debut of three-time Tony Award and Grammy-winning producer Jhett Tolentino.

Other performers include Radha, Filipino Folkloric Dance Troupe of Central New Jersey, Arato Brothers, Mutya Philippines Dance Company of Philadelphia, Reignn Acedera, Paricia Dinglasan, The Band of Brothers, Belvidere Avenue, and the Cebu Sinulog Group Dancers.

On PAFCOM’s 28th celebration in 2018, Kim Chiu, known in the Philippine showbiz as the “Chinita Princess, was once hailed as the “Princess of Philippine Movies and TV,” wowed a big crowd at the sprawling Lincoln Park in Jersey City as its mainstay performer. Like KC, Kim is a Filipina actress, model, singer, dancer, and former TV host. She is also a social media influencer.

Philippine showbiz’s “Chinita Princess” entertains a large audience during PAFCOM’s 28th anniversary | Photo via PAFCOM’s Website
Vendors promote their wares to visitors at Lincoln Park during PAFCOM’s 28th anniversary | Photo via PAFCOM’s Website
Hundreds of visitors visit several vendors during PAFCOM’s 28th anniversary | Photo via PAFCOM’s Website

Joyce Castillo, a Marketing Director at World Financial Group, is the 2022 Grand Marshal.

Under the leadership of president Lea Frain, PAFCOM’s 2022 theme is “Resiliency.” PAFCOM hopes to address how the organization anticipates, prepares and responds to change — both incremental and sudden disruptions — to survive and prosper to create a stronger and adaptable association.

Lea Frain, 2022 PAFCOM President | Photo by Rolan Gutierrez

“This is the first time we invite American entertainers – Dancing Dreams – known for ABBA Tribute Band. Since this is the Philippine American Friendship celebration, Filipino and American performers should be part of the entertainment festivities,” Frain told the Philippine Daily Mirror.

Frain also said they expect more marchers and attendees to come after two years of absence due to the pandemic. “We are also happy that our Consul General Elmer Cato will attend as well as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy,” Frain said.

This year’s celebration will kick off with a grand parade beginning at the intersection of Claremont and West Side Avenue at 11:30 a.m. Various organizations and cultural performers will join the parade leading to the stage at Lincoln Park for a day-long festivity from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Many foods and shop vendors will be at the park serving Filipino food, wares, and services.

Jersey City has become the most prominent hub of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in New Jersey and boasts of their involvement in the local government, businesses, community engagement, a street named Manila Avenue, a small park dedicated to Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, and a former city council president and two former deputy mayors.

Many Filipino Americans anticipate that this year’s PAFCOM parade and festival will be more organized, grander, livelier, and more fun than the recent Philippine Independence Day celebration in New York City. This year’s biggest draw, they say, is the presence of a famous Filipino actress and an American entertainer, including several local talents. “It may duplicate, if not surpass, the success of their 28th anniversary in 2018,” said a former PAFCOM member.

“Live from Jersey City is PAFCOM day!” exclaimed a fan. “So come on and join the big celebration.”

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