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Jan 27th
Home Sections History Using the Magellan-led Voyage’s 500th Anniversary as a Prestige Project to Propel the Philippines to Prosperity
Using the Magellan-led Voyage’s 500th Anniversary as a Prestige Project to Propel the Philippines to Prosperity PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Bobby M. Reyes   
Monday, 11 July 2011 11:44


Project “Magellan2021” Will Revive the Filipino Film-and-Tourism Industries, Help Launch Five Revolutions to Reinvent a Country, One Province at a Time


By Lolo Bobby M. Reyes of Sorsogon City, Philippines, and West Covina, California


Part One of a New Series on the Oplan “Magellan2021”


Bobby Reyes is better than many Filipino leaders, who don’t have any plan or program at all. Bobby has lots of plans, programs and big dreams. After all, dreaming doesn’t cost anything. – Joseph G. Lariosa


T hus, Joseph G. Lariosa, the dean of Filipino correspondents in the United States, regaled mutual friends at the dinner and ball of the Sorsogon Association of the Midwest in November 2000 at a hotel near Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The folks at the table where Joseph and I were seated chuckled and I joined the laughter.


Before I left Chicago during that visit, I reiterated my promise to Mr. Lariosa that he would be one of the recipients of the First “Media Breakfast Club (MBC)-Dean Jose S. Reyes Award for Journalistic Excellence.” It would be an award that we at the MBC were about to give to Filipino-American media practitioners that had rendered exemplary service to the reading public for at least 30 years. I said that the award would include complimentary round-trip air tickets, hotel accommodation, dinner tickets and a free 2-page write up in the event’s souvenir program. Joseph smiled but I knew that he was taking it with a grain of salt, as I have given him the promise a year earlier.


On Nov. 30, 2001, Mr. Lariosa received the said MBC-Dean Reyes Award for Journalistic Excellence. He and the other nine other recipients did not spend a single cent in receiving the said award. There were more-than 430 guests and honorees during the award ceremonies at a four-star hotel near the Los Angeles International Airport and only some 110 guests voluntarily paid the $35 dinner ticket, as all media practitioners and others were given complimentary meals – courtesy of our corporate sponsor. I kept my promise to Mr. Lariosa and the development dreams for Sorsogon – as I described in Chicago in November 2000 – continued to evolve …


Launching a Dream in 1987


In January 1987, then Provincial Officer-in-charge (AKA Acting Governor) Bonifacio Gillego invited me to speak in several public rallies in Sorsogon Province. We were tasked to rally the voters to approve the “Freedom Constitution” that then-President Cory Cojuangco-Aquino’s Dispensation promoted. The referendum was set for February 2, 1987. I spoke in Magallanes town and I said that the municipality would play a big role in the historical event of the next century. Then I talked of how the event could usher in economic freedom of the people, beginning with the folks in Magallanes town and the province of Sorsogon. I urged them to ratify the “Freedom Constitution,” as it could result in our achieving economic independence. I even paraphrased then-former Senator Raul Manglapus that for the people to have political freedom, they must have first economic freedom.


My short speech generated very-modest applause. Later, my younger brother, Victor Emmanuel, who was also one of the speakers, opined that my speech did not resonate well with the public, as people did not understand apparently what I was talking about. My assertion that only the provinces of Sorsogon and Cavite had a town named after Fernando de Magallanes did not create any ripple effect at all.


That night in Magallanes town, I learned again the lesson that for people to believe, they have to see first in the concrete at least part of what a project is all about. Yes, to see is to believe.


Later that year, my friends and I presented more concrete ideas to a group of about 30 Sorsoganon provincial leaders, who did not include them in an economic platform for the first provincial elections under the Cory Aquino Administration. Readers may like to read more details about the said ideas in this hyperlink, The “Save Our Sorsogon (SOS) Bay” Initiative


Bringing the Dream to California


I decided in 1988 to rejoin my American moving-industry employer and got based in Los Angeles County. In 1992, I opted to retire and devote my time to community advocacy and activism and of course, writing, as I majored in journalism in college. Then I began to write about the need to reestablish the Hispanic component in the Filipino heritage.


On July 7, 1993, my cofounders and I held the first forum of the Media Breakfast Club (MBC) of Los Angeles. It is still going strong. This coming Wednesday, July 13, 2011, we will be holding its 1,107th community forum.


To prepare for what I conceived as “Oplan Magellan2021,” I joined in 1994 the Cebu Brotherhood, Inc. (CBI) of Los Angeles, and the Leyte-Samar Association (LSA), Inc., of Southern California. After all, Magellan and his crew did not land in Sorsogon but in Samar, Leyte and Cebu. I joined also in 1996 the Philippine History Group of Los Angeles (PHGLA) and then in 2000 the Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS)-Los Angeles chapter. (But I did not renew my membership in the FANHS after I realized that it had many “hoaxbalahaps” that passed off to Filipino Americans many historical half-truths and outright lies as the gospel truth.)


In June 1995, my friends and I held the first-ever Philippine Independence Day Festival at West Covina, California. It was held at the West Covina Civic Center. It drew a sparse crowd, as we did not get the support of the city officials for reasons that we could not comprehend.


The following year, we moved it to the nearby West Covina Mall and renamed it the “Fiesta Hispana-Filipina.” Again, we did not merit the support of the West Covina city officials but we got the Federal Express (FedEx) to sponsor it. FedEx paid for the insurance premium for a $1-million dollar liability policy that the mall required and for 10,000 copies of a “Festival Magazine” that we published as an event guide.


But we were right. The West Covina Mall attracted daily buyers by the thousands – even without a cultural event. Our two-day “Fiesta Hispana-Filipina” entertained the crowds of shoppers with Spanish and Filipino folk dances, history exhibits and a Filipino book festival. In fact, the mall marketing office admitted that the event increased foot traffic and resulted in bigger sales for the stores located in the venue. We were able also to get the attention of some Puerto-Rican, Mexican and Spanish community leaders to join us in planning for the next year’s edition of the festival. We started also to promote the idea of getting organized for the 500th anniversary of the Magellan-lead Spanish expedition – some 23 years ahead.


However, we failed to sign up FedEx for the 1997 Fiesta, as it said that it was targeting business owners and not regular individual consumers. The mall refused to waive the million-dollar insurance requirement and provided no support at all. Perhaps the concept of a “Fiesta Hispana-Filipina” seemed unacceptable to regular marketing people that usually do niche marketing on a community-by-community basis and by not combining ethnic groups in one event. Besides, the anniversary of the Magellan-led expedition was more-than two decades away.


As a Doctor Yubero, a Spanish physician said, “Even Spanish and Filipino diplomats assigned in Los Angeles might not support you and the Magallanes-voyage anniversary because by 2019, they would already be retired from the foreign service or even be dead.”


Establishing More Track Records in Festival Management


In 1998 and 1999, our Southern California-based budding coalition represented the Philippines in the “Asian Festival at the Los Angeles County Fair” in the City of Pomona and at the Tet (Lunar New Year) at Little Saigon in the City of Westminster. We joined also events like Filipino-American Expos because we wanted simply to obtain more experience in doing festivals and fiestas, as we prepared ourselves for the coming historical event of the century in 2019-2022.


Our track record paid off. In 2002, I was named the overall chairman of the Peñafrancia Fiesta at the Echo Park in Los Angeles, an annual event sponsored by the United Bicolandia of Los Angeles. In 2003, this writer was elected as the overall chairman of the Philippine Independence Fiesta and Parade at the Historic Filipinotown and then the grand chairman of the 2006 Kalayaan Philippine Independence Committee in elections held at the Philippine Consulate General.


By the way, in December 2000, I was elected the first non-Samarnon and non-Leyteño chairman of the Board of the LSA. After I served as co-chairman of CBI’s 2008 Sinulog Festival-Los Angeles of the CBI, I was elected as its first non-Cebuano director. I served again as the Sinulog Festival’s co-chairman in 2009.


We wrote the following articles about the Sinulog Festival in Los Angeles:


The Sinulog Festival Can Become Los Angeles' Biggest Event in January by 2021


Today Is THE 2008 “Sinulog Festival—Los Angeles”


(To be continued . . .)

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Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2011 20:36
Comments (1)
1 Wednesday, 13 July 2011 06:53
Filipino US residents are known to have acquired their great Love of Country after years of settling in a country of milk and honey... most often than not.. you can sense their craving to go back to their roots, to their place of origin. Like a sailor who's too eager to explore the vastness of the ocean, the seeming eagerness to step on every ports is an unending thrill for them...the typical Filipino.

This is the distinctive trait of a true breed of Filipino, the values , the authentic character though not shaped and polished in a homogeinic cultured society is still capable to excel in their own skills.. there are lots of them and you are one who truly exemplifies the true breed of Filipino I mentioned Bobby M. Reyes... soar high to reach for that dream, a Goal... a noble cause to see a progressive Sorsogon ...enhancing the stone where the ancient great man who discovered it left a mark.. polish the stone Bobby and carve a beautiful memory of this generation who embraced the Legacy with Great Love and Honor, that no amount of seawaves could erase and bring to oblivion.. Godspeed !

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