Taste of Manila founder reveals festival financial losses

Community News & Features Sep 8, 2017 at 4:42 pm
Mangante goes over unofficial  partial  documents for accounting verification and CRA  submission  PHOTO:  LQ

Mangante goes over unofficial
documents for accounting verification and CRA

By Lui Queaño

TORONTO–Despite impressive attendance and the participation of dozens of vendors, sponsors and trade exhibitors, Taste of Manila (ToM), the latest of which was held Aug. 19 and 20, it is still losing money, according to its founder Rolly Mangante.

Mangante, founding board chairman and now Chair Emeritus of the event’s organizer, Philippine Cultural Community Centre, revealed on Tuesday, Sept. 5, in an interview with The Philippine Reporter, that the organization’s overall revenue generation is in the red — with negative income. He said it had incurred losses this year amounting to $20,000.

At the Starbucks café on Bathurst St. and Wilson Ave. close to his office, Mangante brought documents to show that ToM, touted as one of the biggest Filipino festivals in Canada and registered as non-profit organization, lost money from the annual Filipino event.

The three-inch thick folder contained financial documents of ToM that are yet to be verified by its accountant before they submit a financial to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The event’s reduced revenue was in part due to a smaller number of vendors and exhibitors this year, according to Mangante. There were only 63 of them this year, down by 20 from last year. This combined with higher costs that included permit and rent costs for the venue, payments to police and security, waste management, media promotions, street space rental and other festival costs.

Toronto Police Service alone quoted ToM $29,030.83 for its rendered services separate from the $10,000 paid to licensed security personnel during the two-day event.

The unverified documents also highlighted other off-costs including payments to accommodation for the invited visitors as well as loss of income from non-participation of businesses along Wilson Ave., west of Bathurst St. who directly gained income from the event.

Vendors and Sponsors

Vendors and sponsors are the safety net that help cover the cost of putting up the event. Mangante estimated that proceeds collected from the vendors and sponsors pay 95 percent of running his festival yearly. The other 5 percent comes from pitch fees out of personal pockets. “If we didn’t have any of those vendors and sponsors, then we wouldn’t be able to run Taste of Manila,” Mangante said.

“But we still lost roughly $42,000 from the businesses operating in the Wilson area that did not join this year when in previous years they did. Marami ngang nagreklamong vendors bakit sila nagbayad samantalang yung nasa Wilson hindi, (Many vendors complained why they had to pay while those on Wilson St. didn’t.),” Mangante added.

Mangante’s unofficial partial report said the event generated income of at least $100,000 from the vendors and still has collectibles from major sponsors who have not completely remitted payments. Other collectibles include generated refunds once complete expense report is submitted to CRA. But Mangante claimed that just like in previous years’ revenues, refunds and collectibles only offset whatever loss of income the group incurred.

Yung mga vendors natin iba-iba naman bayad nila (Our vendors pay different rates) from $2,750 for prime location, $2,250 for basic location, $500 for trade/product exhibitors. Hindi naman lahat ay (Not all are) major vendors, only 18 of 63 vendors are restaurants who paid $2,500 tapos yung iba depende sa (others depending on their) business and preference nila,” Mangante said.

Mangante points at the list of festival off-site  businesses along Wilson St.  that did not join the Taste of Manila but gained  revenues from the event through off-site sales. (Photo: LQ)

Mangante points at the list of festival off-site
businesses along Wilson St. that did not join the Taste of Manila but gained
revenues from the event through off-site sales.
(Photo: LQ)

Visitor turn out

But far more worrying is the reduced attendance compared to previous years of Taste of Manila, from 350,000 in 2016 to only 250,000 this year. “Bagama’t malaking factor iyong walang mga artista kasi nga maraming nagtatanong kung may darating bang mga artista galing sa Pilipinas (Although a big factor is the absence of movie stars because many people are asking if the stars would be coming from the Philippines) but the Cultural Committee decided to utilize local talents,” Mangante averred.

The visitor turn out has generated revenues for the local economy which include sales from food, beverage and souvenir items. The event, Mangante said, “provided free marketing and advertising for local businesses as visitors talk about their fun experiences at the festival posted on Facebook and other social media.”

Kaya yung mga nagsasabing nalulugi tingnan ninyo naman kung gaano kadami ang dumalo sa event. Alam ninyo naman lahat iyan nagbabayad at bumibili ng mga pagkain at kung ano-ano pa (So to those who say we lost, look at how many came to the event. You all know they paid and purchased food and other items),” Mangante added.

ToM expects “to rebound with revenues and improved attendance next year as the venue will be transferred to Downsview for efficiency in terms of business and vendor control,” Mangante announced.

But more than the attendance, income and revenues, Mangante is more concerned at the opportunity that the ethnic heritage of Filipinos is promoted and celebrated each year.

Mas mahalaga yung makilala ang ating tradisyon at kultura.” (It’s more important that our traditions and culture become known.)

Mangante gave the names of board members of the Philippine Cultural Community Centre that organizes ToM once a year: Danilo Doma, chairman; Bong Capitin, Lino Eroma, Joey Abrenilla, directors; Teresa Torralba, chief of staff and media coordinator.

Mangante also disclosed that their group has no office and they spend from their own pockets if needed.