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Aug 09th
Home Sections Humor & Satire Hellen of Troika
Hellen of Troika PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Humor & Satire
Tuesday, 10 April 2007 07:44


It may be too early to say goodbye to Consul Maria Hellen Barber, the Acting Head of Post of the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Los Angeles. She is due to go back to Manila in August 2007 -- just barely four months from now.

But let me be the first to "roast" her online in the great tradition of the press, which normally holds a gridiron to bid adieu to departing diplomats.

Last year when I chaired the 2006 Kalayaan Steering Committee, Consul Hellen (yes, with two Ls) was assigned by then outgoing Consul General Marciano A. Paynor, Jr., and his successor, now Amb. Willy C. Gaa, to oversee the preparations to celebrate Philippine Independence.

She was instrumental in our being able to form a Kalayaan "Dream Team," as Weekend Balita columnist Romy P. Borje dubbed our group of volunteers. Mr. Borje is the dean of Filipino-American columnists. Consul Hellen volunteered to serve as the Event Chairperson for the Grand Ball scheduled at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel on June 10, 2006.

My management style as the overall chairman was to create a troika of chairpersons/cochairs for the various committees. Ms. Hellen formed a troika with Ms. Lydia Soriano and the PCG's Lita Patayon for the dinner tickets. (Ms. Soriano was the 2006 vice chair and 2007 Kalayaan chairwoman.) Ambassador Gaa, Consul Hellen and I formed also a troika for the hotel arrangements. She formed also a troika with Atty. Antero Pagunsan and Noel Omega for the program. There was also a troika set up to handle the finances and it was composed of Consul Hellen, Ms. Soriano and the Kalayaan treasurer, Tetchie E. Quiatchon.

The Grand Ball turned out to be the best-attended Kalayaan event since 2001, when the Kalayaan system was formed. (Consul Hellen and her fellow diplomats actually sold the most-number of dinner tickets.) Our program was also the first to start on time and it finished just 18 minutes past the announced schedule. Our guest speaker, Sen. Juan Flavier, was forced (sic) to extend his talk. The audience kept asking for more (jokes). The listeners were almost laughing to death listening to Mr. Flavier's display of Filipino wit and humor. The Sining Kambayoka folkdance troupe extended its performance by some 20 minutes, as the "electrified" audience kept it inspired.

We held the Kalayaan meetings at the PCG. And of course we would exchange small talks before the meetings. I predicted that Consul Hellen would become first a consul general in Los Angeles and then an ambassador someday. But I said there would be a minor problem. She asked what would be the problem. I said that the PCG or the embassy (where she would be assigned) would be called unofficially by the Fil-Am community as "Barber Shop." And I said that her press conferences would be described by Fil-Am media wags as "Balitang Barbero." Of course, Consul Hellen laughed at my jokes, which some of the Kalayaan volunteers rated as corny.

So, here is a toast to Consul Hellen of Troika, whose face launched a thousand or more Fil-Am vessels of cooperation and unity by her frequent appearance as inducting officer and/or guest speaker. Imagine, without her help and guidance given to these associations, theirs would have become the Filipino equivalent of the vessel called SS Titanic.

 Well, it may not yet be time to say goodbye. The 2007 Kalayaan has been incorporated as the Kalayaan of Southern California, Inc. (KOSCI). It may still need Consul Hellen to iron out the problems that are said to be developing.

The PCG, as well as the four other past Kalayaan chairs -- Dr. Carlos P. Manlapaz, Chito Mandap, Ms. Lucy Babaran and this writer -- are supposed to be the KOSCI advisers but we have not been asked to help. But the 2007 Kalayaan events are no longer being held under the auspices of the PCG. Perhaps the 2007 Kalayaan may need more than a Hellen of the Troika. It may need a Fil-Am version of King Midas, so that everything that he touches would turn into gold. But we should all be careful because in the United States today, anything that Midas touches turns into a muffler or a brake-repair job. # # #

Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 12:30
Comments (1)
(As posted in the Timeline of Lolo Bobby M. Reyes: Why Consul General (actually Ambassador in rank) Maria Hellen Barber-De la Vega was supposedly reassigned to the DFA Head Office eight months ahead of her tenure? There is no truth to the rumor that it was the fault of her husband, Bing De La Vega. An unconfirmed report said that Bing, a former president of the Pangasinan Brotherhood-usa, wanted allegedly to honor his beloved wife by petitioning a U.S. Court to add two letter "Ss" to his surname, so as to make it "De Las Vegas." He reasoned out apparently that since they are now a couple, their common family name should be plural. But alas, the policy-&-decision makers at the DFA thought allegedly that a Filipino consul general by that name might be encouraging Filipino Americans to gamble more at the Sin City. And hence, she was promoted to a more-senior position in Manila.

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You have to accentuate the positive,eliminate the negative,and latch on to the affirmative.Don't mess with "Mr. In-between".~Louis Armstrong