Niagara Fans Disgusted Over Papin’s Shabby Treatment by Pinoy Community Leader

Community News & Features Jun 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

FCAN pres. Gwen de la Cruz


The Open House is an annual event organized by the Folk-Arts Multicultural Centre of St Catharines during which different communities showcase their traditions and culture. The whole month traditional celebration is patronized not only by members of the public but by leaders and politicians in the region.

The FCAN issue came about when several fans waited in vain at the Open House for Imelda Papin’s expected visit in St Catharines, Niagara. It was understood that the legendary singer would visit the open house and promote her fund-drive to provide free dialysis treatment to young patients who cannot afford to pay for it in the Philippines. However, de la Cruz forbid the group to come as they please and instead ordered them to come at a specific time.

According to TeresaTorralba, it would not have been a problem for Papin’s group if de la Cruz “politely” declined their request and addressed the problem in a diplomatic manner. Torralba’s group felt offended when de la Cruz specifically told them in an email: “There should be NO disruption whatsoever with our programme…. If you show up before the allotted time, then you leave me no choice but to ask your group to come back after 4pm.”

“Contrary to some people’s belief (or guess?) that Imelda’s group cancelled the Philippine songstress’ appearance at the FCAN open house due to the allotted schedule was wrong”, said Torralba. “ it was the above-quoted e-mail that seemed to be more of a command and a threat that led our group to cancel the visit.”

Torralba further added, “we already agreed to let Imelda perform at 4:00 pm as per FCAN’s request although we knew that it would be closing time. Gwen does not have to be very adamant in saying she will stop us from going there. Your leader seems to be very demanding and sounded too authoritative. Sila pa ngang binigyan ng opportunity makita si Imelda at kantahan ng libre, sila pa itong nagyayabang. (They are the ones given the opportunity to see Imelda for free yet they are the ones who are so arrogant).”

Imelda Papin with JIL, St. Catharines members.

One former FCAN officer who requested anonymity aptly wrote: “whether you are a celebrity or just a common visitor, if you express your desire to visit our open house, we will entertain you with our utmost hospitality as long as time permits. This is why it is called an “Open House”. Schedule is not an issue; it can be adjusted because it should be open to flexibility anyway. Nothing here is written in stone. At this time, even though I am not involved in the process, but because of my lifetime dedication to this association, I will go out of my way and apologize for the treatment you have been given”.

In what can be seen as an attempt to calm down the alleged misunderstanding, de la Cruz, defended herself by saying that all she wanted was to allot a special time for Imelda so the officers can concentrate on her. “Our intention was to concentrate on Imelda Papin and her charity at the allotted time… we still wanted her to come” de la Cruz explained.

Hani and Julie Asfur who hosted the dinner along with the rest of the community in Fort Erie quickly expressed her displeasure saying, “Does Roque know the meaning of Open House? Forbidding you not to come at a specific time was very controlling and she should not have said that.”

When some officers and an adviser were queried by this writer, some officers remained tight-lipped while others claimed to have never been informed about Imelda’s visit.

Torralba just had one message, “we know it’s a loss for us not to have brought Imelda Papin to the FCAN Open House but we do not want to be humiliated even if there are thousands of dollars waiting for us. Tell your leader, thanks but no thanks.”

Rod Quizon, a former FCAN president along with other officers such as Serge de Mesa and Renato Medalla came all the way to Niagara Falls and expressed their heartfelt apologies to Imelda’s group. Cuizon said, “We have tried our very best to be careful not to tarnish FCAN’s name. On behalf of FCAN, we sincerely apologise for our president’s e-mail.” FCAN’s first vice president, de Mesa also added, “the issue has become an eye opener and we intend to discuss this extensively among the board.”

By now, the apologies received from several quarters of the community including its officers were too late. The visit was already cancelled much to the disappointment of many fans.

On May 22nd, Asya restaurant, co-owned by Ron and Christine Estella of Niagara Falls came to the rescue and prepared a sumptuous lunch for everyone. Fans who knew the sudden change of venue trooped down to Niagara Falls.

As expected, fans swarmed around Papin to take photos courteously without jostling one another. They also had the chance to see Papin perform and sing an upbeat song that almost made everyone dance with delight.

For a donation of $20 to Imelda Papin Foundation’s Dialysis Centre in Quezon City, Philippines, her CD’s were sold in less than an hour through the kind efforts of Norah Bastien.

In Fort Erie, Nancy Stenzel was teary-eyed as she hugged Papin. “Gosh, I am so happy that I have finally met my idol. I never had the chance to approach her in the Philippines,” she said.

The JIL (Jesus is the Lord) of St Catharines gave her a warm welcome too as they hosted lunch and performed a cultural dance presentation. Excitement among the JIL members grew stronger as Imelda sang ‘Bakit Ikaw Pa?’.

As of press time, a general meeting has been scheduled this month to discuss, among other things, some amendments to FCAN’s constitution.

Fans in Fort Erie swarmed around Imelda Papin.

n Niagara Falls, fans wore Pinoy T-shirts to further enhance their excitement for their idol.