FIA confers Empowerment Awards to a batch of recipients of distinction

While education fuels man to strive even farther beyond and his objective inspiringly motivates him to aspire for higher goals, it is society and the community where he lives that keeps him constantly driven to achieve gratification which eventually defines the truest essence of his purpose in life.

The fundamental quintessence of success is self-fulfillment after constantly trying. And since everything on earth is ephemeral and fleeting, success is best valued when selflessly shared, genuinely appreciated, and duly recognized…not only by his peers but more so by a prestigious organization competent enough to identify and confer an award.

What keeps man from having to consistently chase success after success is the accordance of a due recognition and appreciation for what he has contributed not only to his immediate family members but to a much broader number of populace who’ll benefit, directly or indirectly, from the achievement he has shared.

The undiminished manifestations of every man’s intellectual achievements and unprecedented global status has consistently been the boosting power in their unsurpassed competence to uphold and commemorate habituated century-old tradition even across the miles and seas. That despite the unrelenting growth, development, evolution, social modernization, and new edifying adjustment, the innate cultural dynamics they brought along with them had defied all these changes. They persistently and firmly embrace the culture and tradition they were born and grew-up with…especially the annual observance of a grand festivity which is the Fiesta in America.

It was through the initiative of Nanding Mendez and the late Mila Mendez, the founding couple of Fiesta in America, that Empowerment Awards came to light about nine years ago and the prestigious honor went progressively more dynamic as one of the most coveted awards since.

Ably chaired by the inexorable and unrelenting mover-and-doer Darlene Borromeo, this year’s roster of awardees consists of unambiguously very accomplished community figures and reputable professionals that are all more than deserving of the award and recognition bestowed on them.

Darlene, in her years of effectual stewardship of Empowerment Awards, didn’t leave a stone unturned to be able to come up with praiseworthy and truly commendable recipients. In her unprecedented commitment and strong advocacy to recognize outstanding Filipino-American community leaders who distinctly exemplify the core of success worth emulating, Darlene, with the aid of Fiesta in America core group, made sure that her choices are personalities with exemplary achievements in their chosen profession.

Get to know Fiesta in America’s 2017 Empowerment Awardees:

Jackie Jacalan-Baras, MSN, MBA/HCS, RN for Human Rights Advocacy

A Quality Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services for RJW Barnabas New Brunswick and Somerset campuses in New Jersey, Jackie is ably armed with over 20 years of experience as a professional Registered Nurse having served the organization as Clinical Nurse, Head Nurse, Nurse Director, Home Care Planner, Case Manager, and Nurse Educator.

Jackie pioneered in establishing the first LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Employee Resource Group PROUD (Promoting Respect, Outreach, Understanding and Dignity) in RWJUH New Brunswick and Somerset.

A recipient of Nurse District Recognition from the 2nd Magnet Designation RWJBH-Somerset, she is currently working with the New Jersey Hospital Association and Garden State Equality to create a hospital best practice tool kit for more welcoming sensitive and culturally competent care for LGBT patients, Jackie sits on the Board of Directors of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest advocacy group for the LGBTQIA community.

Robyn Begley, DNP, RN, NEA-BC for Career Development & Professional Equality

Robyn is the Vice-President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer of AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger Health System aside from having had held leadership positions at the said company which included Director, Clinical Resource Management; Fellow and Director, Total Quality Management; Director, Coordinator, Obstetrics and Pediatrics; and Consumer Advocate.

Armed with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from NJUMD, a Master’s Degree in Nursing from Widener University in Pennsylvania, and her BS Degree in Nursing from Georgetown, University in Washington, DC, she served as a team leader for Joint Commission surveys of ARMC and led it to become the 105th hospital in the nation to achieve the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program, Magnet designation for Excellence in Nursing in 2004, and as a Magnet hospital in 2008 and 2013.

Begley sits on the Board of American Organization of nurse Executives, the Committee Chair of the NJ Nursing Initiative, member of the Advisory Board, Atlantic Cape Community College Nursing Advisory Board, and NJ Consortium of magnet Organizations.

Nicolas Caraquel, ESQ for Legal Profession

Atty. Caraquel’s professional skills cut across a wide range of industries: from engineering and supply chain management to factory optimization to labor relations and to Immigration Law.

Prior to his becoming a barrister Caraquel distinguished himself at Nestle USA and Philippine facilities. In Florham Park, NJ he served as Supply Chain Continuous Improvement and Continuous Excellence Manager, in Kentucky he earned high marks as an Industrial Performance Engineer-Leader, and HR Executive-Corporate Labor Relations while affiliated with Nestle Philippines as Distribution Center Network Head.

Caraquel earned his Six Sigma Black Belt Certified (Basic) Bachelor of Laws from Xavier University, Philippines and his Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Ateneo de Davao University. Atty. Caraquel is a lifetime member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

David B. Domingo, ANP, MS, BSN, RN for Humanitarian Service

Currently Director of Preferred Professional Medical Care’s Skilled Nursing Facilities and Rehab/Assisted Living Facilities / Group Homes, David is being recognized for his body of work in the field of Geriatric Care and Rehabilitation. A dyed-in-the-wool Divine Word University alumnus (Philippines) where he earned his BS in Nursing degree, David sustained his academic excellence even at Stony Brook University in NY where he graduated Magna cum Laude in 2002 with a Master’s of Science degree in Adult Care.

A nursing graduate from St. Luke’s Medical Center, he previously served as Asst. Medical Director at Affinity Skilled L:iving and Rehabilitation Center and at the Suffolk Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation after having served as Nurse Practitioner at Haven Medical Services of the Woodhaven Center for Care aside from being an Employee Health Services Director at Island Nursing and Rehab Center, Interim Director of Nursing at Patchogue Nursing Center, and Nursing Supervisor at Woodhaven Nursing Home.

Rolan and Myrna Gutierrez for Entrepreneurship

It was love for computers and real estate that brought the enterprising couple together. The husband-and-wife tandem behind Fil-Am Who’s Who, a magazine about Fil-Am success stories, Rolan and Myrna were the moving spirits that fueled the success of fashion guru Rene Salud’s “Tatak Salud” and Fashion Arts Autism Benefit Fashion Show…and not to forget the recent concerts Pinoy talents Basil Valdez, Rey Valera, and Rachel Alejandro.

A University of the Philippines alumnus, Rolan was in Australia when he was recruited for a computer consulting job in the US. Besides being a professional photographer he is also an associate real estate broker while Myrna graduated from Maryknoll College and currently works as a computer programmer in Manhattan.

Both 2017 NY Mets Filipino Heritage awardees. Rolan and Myrna are longtime members of the Knights and Ladies of Rizal-Long Island Chapter.

Luis Ferdinand Pedron for Arts and Cinema

The co-founder /Festival Director and Programmer of the International Film Festival Manhattan, Luis was also the Festival Director for Asians on Film Festival in North Hollywood 2013, as well as Festival Director for the One FILAM Film Festival Hollywood 2013.

An award-winning short film maker, Pedron has won as Best Directing award and Best Documentary Video at the NY International Independent Film and Video Festival for his documentary, VIP (Very Important Pinoys) which honored Fil-Am seniors in Elmhurst, Queen; and Party Games, which he co-directed with Mark Levitt, won the Best Director Award at the Short Films at the NYIFVF 2004.

A professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild / AFTRA Union and voting member of the SAG Awards since 1998, Pedron is currently in the works producing Sarwar Habib short film Made in China which production starts this Fall.

Rebecca “Dolly” Rivera, MD for Humanitarian Services 

Dr. Dolly graduated from the UST College of Medicine and Surgery in Manila, started training as a rotating intern at the Coney Island Hospital in NY, and underwent OB-Gyn training at St. Claire’s Hospital in Manhattan.  She served as a house physician in Ob-Gyn at the Doctors’ Hospital in Manhattan and the JFK Medical Center in Edison, NJ and later pursued private practice following her passing the board where she served as Secretary of her department then as Chair of the department’s Peer Review Committee.

Her relentless drive for excellence took its reward when she became Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President, and President of the JFK Medical-Dental Staff, the only Asian woman to hold the position up to the present. While in practice, Dr. Dolly and a partner opened a nursing home for geriatric patients. For the past 35 years the facility has sponsored nurses, nurses’ aides, and housekeepers .

Now retired, she’s involved in medical missions to the Philippines under the auspices of the GC Rivera Foundation and other charitable institutions.

“These Empowerment Awardees are factual testaments to the truest efficacy of the Filipino spirit,” Darlene candidly accentuated with a tone of pride. “Through this award we acknowledge and celebrate the successes and achievements of leaders in the community. They are the cream of the crop that would indubitably inspire others, motivate the youth, and later build a better community for future generations to survive and thrive.”

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