PIDCI names 2019 Grand Marshals; Estrellado reflects on his tenure

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – On his 25th year as a volunteer to the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), Raul Estrellado, president of Pinoy Pistoleros and Laguna Association, was named 2019 Grand Marshal by the PIDCI Board.

Estrellado joins Ireneo G. Alvaro, Ph.D. who was named 2019 Honorary Grand Marshal last December following his presentation at a forum at the Philippine Center promoting Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines to private investors. Alvaro is President & CEO of Midori Hotel & Casino, and Aqua Planet, and Chairman of the Clark Investors and Locators Association.

PIDCI said Alvaro was designated Honorary Grand Marshal for his “immeasurable contribution in various disciplines. Notably, his expertise and exemplary service in both private and public leader. He embodies and best personifies our forefathers’ vision of a free people…”

“He is worthy of emulation by others, for his sterling record is second to none,” added PIDCI. Alvaro accepted the designation “with pride and humility” to honor what our heroes fought for.”

In an interview with the Philippine Daily Mirror, Estrellado said he was surprised about his selection. He was told that Board members “unanimously agreed to my nomination.”

PIDCI service

Since 1994 when he first volunteered in PIDCI as one of its security staff has been moving his way up the ladder serving as co-chair or chair of various committees —  general services, street fair, parade — to becoming president in 2008. Following a year of absence after his presidency, he came back to PIDCI in 2010, serving in other leadership roles and becoming again, chairman of the general services and election committees in 2016 and 2017. He was chairman of the parade and general service committee in 2018.

“I’ve served the PIDCI for 24 years. My committees ran smoothly with no major problems,” he said.

When asked about the selection process, he said: “I understand there was a caucus of the members of the Board and after hours of deliberation, my name was announced.” Estrellado did not say if there were nominees besides him as Grand Marshal.

Estrellado is the third PIDCI insider who has achieved both the presidency and as a Grand Marshal.  Lawyer Reuben Seguritan who served as president in 2002, was also named Grand Marshal in 2015. Seguritan was responsible for incorporating PIDCI in the State of New York and obtaining its 501c-3 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Another PIDCI personality is Fe Martinez who was Grand Marshal in 2002 and was elected president in 2012. She served for three terms.

After being named Grand Marshal, Estrellado said he has been able to raise funds “for the Grand Marshal Gala, lift the spirits of my fellow community members, and enhance the diaspora of the Filipino community.” One of these events — the Grand Marshal Gala — will be held on March 23, 2019, at the Hilton Meadowlands, 2 Meadowlands Plaza, East Rutherford, NJ 07073.

Lawsuit vs PIDCI twice dismissed

PIDCI and its Board members, except one individual, were sued by those who lost in the elections in 2017 but the lawsuit has since been dismissed twice by the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The complainants questioned PIDCI’s proxy votes and lack of financial reports among others. PIDCI responded to the complaint presenting financial documents which the complainants asked for to the satisfaction of the court. In addition to the complaint, “negative campaigns” were launched by some people in the community discrediting PIDCI.

These affected the organization’s fundraising efforts to hold the annual commemoration of Philippine Independence which is celebrated with several activities leading to a parade along Madison Avenue in Manhattan in June and a PIDCI Grand Ball. Despite the odds, PIDCI claimed to have successfully delivered with the same record as in previous years with “sustained involvement and determination of board members, the community, and donors.”

The independence day commemoration’s activities, which is regarded as the largest gathering outside of the Philippines of Filipinos in the Northeast in a single event, showcase the Philippines’ pride of her people and their achievements and rich cultural heritage.

Estrellado was asked about the best experience he has had in PIDCI, it’s future and if he had any regrets.

Upon his election to the presidency in 2008, Estrellado said that he ventured on a 10-year plan aimed at training young men and women volunteers to become future leaders of PIDCI. Philippine movie, TV and entertainment celebrities in addition to local talents were invited to enhance the parade, street fair and cultural festival.

“Ten years have gone by and the PIDCI reached its peak. Now on its 11th year, I feel as if we’ve gone back to square one. We’re facing the same problems when I was president,” Estrellado said. “I accepted being named Grand Marshal because I know that I could help our beloved organization financially recoup and recover from all these mounting problems.”

Estrellado is bent on accomplishing his mission. “I live with no regrets. And as I always say, any bad decision will be charged to experience,” he said.

Awards and recognition

Throughout his many years of community service not only in PIDCI but through his membership and leadership roles in other organizations, Estrellado received numerous awards, recognition, and plaques of appreciation as a testament to his many accomplishments. He is humbled by all these and said, “Para sa Bayan at sa ating komunidad dito. Ang maglingkod ng buong puso, matapat at kakayahan ay hindi mahahadlangan habang may buhay pa tayo.” (This is for our country and community. To serve with the fullness of heart, sincerity and ability cannot be outdone as long as we live.)

Estrellado does not intend to hold any more positions after this year. “I plan to retire from my PIDCI duties and act as a Special Advisor to the committees,” he said. “I am always willing to extend advice and share my expertise.”

With regard to the Board’s experience these past two years, he said, “all the board members are very good. They are autonomous, self-sufficient and they will successfully finish their assignments. Overall, they are all professionals and outstanding community leaders serving the community unhesitantly, without any remorse, and in the spirit of unity and pride of our country and our fellowmen.”

His family comes from both a political and military background. He said his leadership has been tested on many occasions as a member of the student council, a fraternity, and progressive organizations during his college days. Besides being an accomplished target shooter, he is an avid golfer and a chess player.

Estrellado is married to Erlinda Mesina, a retired senior registered nurse. They have two successful sons – Steve and Christian – both are graduates of Rutgers University.

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