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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and MTA Chair and CEO Lieber Celebrate Start of Full-Scale Long Island Rail Road Service to Grand Central Madison

Senate Majority Leader Schumer Joins Governor Hochul and MTA Chair and CEO Lieber at Ceremony at Grand Central Madison. New LIRR Timetables  Increase Weekday Service by 41 Percent. Largest LIRR Service Expansion with Trains Arriving/Departing Manhattan Terminals Every Three Minutes During Peak Periods. Combo Ticket Available with Implementation of New Schedules. Schedules Available via TrainTime App and on MTA Website (Photo by Don Pollard/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber, along with federal and local elected officials on Sunday, February 26th, celebrated the official opening of Grand Central Madison. The full Long Island Rail Road service began on Monday, February 27th. The new schedules provide increased service levels by a historic 41 percent and offer direct access to Midtown east, the biggest job hub in the country, provide more frequent, reliable service, including in Queens and Brooklyn, and true reverse-peak service on the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma Branches for the first time.   

"Grand Central Madison is a public transportation feat that will shorten commutes, giving commuters time back in their busy lives to spend with their families, friends and communities," Governor Hochul said. "Grand Central Madison will dramatically expand service and operate more reliably for commuters and reduce overcrowding at Penn Station. Thanks to our continued partnership with Senator Schumer and the New York Congressional delegation, we will continue building safe and efficient public transportation worthy of New Yorkers."

The new schedules add 271 LIRR trains per day and increase LIRR systemwide service to 936 trains per day, of which 296 will be to or from Grand Central Madison. The Grand Central Madison project, funded in part by USDOT, follows two other significant LIRR capital projects: the Double Track Project, which installed a second track for 13 miles between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma; and the Third Track Project, which installed a 9.8-mile third track between Floral Park and Hicksville. These once-in-a-generation investments alleviated certain capacity constraints, enabling the railroad to increase service and comprehensively rewrite the schedules for the first time in decades.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, "We are here today because the East Side Access train is quite literally about to leave the station — Hallelujah. Tens-of-thousands of transit riders can now breathe a sigh of relief. Thousands and thousands who work on the East side finally get the convenience they've craved. Look, I've been here for so much of the East Side Access journey — all $2.7 Billion of it. That's how much I got the feds to kick in here. We all know how difficult it is to secure transit funding — for the country and for NY. Coupled with the other transit projects like Gateway, the NY transit gem is gearing up to shine like the top of the Chrysler building, and it is about time. I thank Governor Hochul, the MTA and everyone else who helped make transit history today."

MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, "Faster service and more trains will help bring the heart of New York City closer to Long Islanders and Queens residents, and the surge in reverse commuting will be a shot in the arm for Long Island employers looking to access a bigger talent pool. It's a win-win." 

Interim President of the Long Island Rail Road and President of Metro-North Railroad Catherine Rinaldi said, "LIRR is thrilled to be offering more frequent service and more flexibility to our customers. Grand Central Madison also provides connectivity between LIRR and Metro-North for the very first time, opening up a new era of regional rail travel for customers of both railroads."   

With implementation of the new schedules, there will be more than 500 additional station stops in Brooklyn and Queens and during the peak period, an LIRR train into Penn Station or Grand Central every 3 to 6 minutes and service to Atlantic Terminal approximately every 12 minutes. Grand Central Madison is the first major new rail terminal to open in the United States in 67 years and the first extension of the LIRR in 112 years, since service began to Penn Station in 1910. 

The new schedules provide rush-hour through-service to Brooklyn from Freeport, Hempstead and West Hempstead. The MTA encourages all riders to consult the new schedules before traveling via the highly rated TrainTime app or at, where users can find pdf timetables

The Combo Ticket  

The beginning of service now enables the possibility of transferring directly between the LIRR and Metro-North Railroad. To provide a seamless connection between the systems, the MTA has introduced the "Combo Ticket" - a single ticket that enables customers to travel between Long Island, Manhattan's northern suburbs and Connecticut all with one fare.  

The Combo Ticket enables riders to buy a LIRR ticket in Huntington for a trip to White Plains or a Metro-North ticket in Poughkeepsie for a trip to Montauk. Riders choose their origin station with Grand Central as their destination and pay the regular fare plus a flat rate of eight dollars for a continuing trip to any destination on the other railroad. For more on the combo ticket, visit  

More on Recent Long Island Rail Road Improvements 

Grand Central Madison, Double Track, and Main Line Third Track are part of an unprecedented $17.7 billion investment to transform and modernize the Long Island Rail Road with 100 projects throughout the system including construction of a more spacious LIRR Concourse at Penn Station with a new entrance at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue, renewal and upgrading of 36 stations and 17 bridges, elimination of eight at-grade railroad crossings, activation of the Positive Train Control safety system, upgrades to 15 electrical substations, parking capacity increases, and yard expansions.   

Additionally, following the opening of Moynihan Train Hall in 2021, the MTA, together with Empire State Development, NJ Transit and Amtrak, is transforming Penn Station into a world-class, single-level terminal with abundant natural light, high ceilings, and enhanced wayfinding.


Op-Ed: On Track to A Safer New York City Subway By Mayor Eric Adams

I started my career as a transit police officer, so I know firsthand that subway safety is public safety. Our transit system is the key to getting to work, to school, visiting family and friends, and experiencing all that New York City has to offer. It makes life in our city possible. And everyone who uses this essential resource — regardless of their ethnicity, age, or gender — has the right to feel safe doing it.

One year ago, Governor Kathy Hochul and I announced a Subway Safety plan, where we promised to devote more resources to helping those experiencing homelessness and facing mental health crisis get the shelter and the care they need. We announced our plan to disburse more homeless outreach teams in our subways and train NYPD officers to enforce the system’s rules of conduct in a fair and transparent way, addressing the fare evasion and disorder that contributes to an unsafe environment. And we committed to improving collaboration between the state and city to effectively address safety concerns.


And this past fall, Governor Hochul and I took another bold step, announcing a historic surge of police officers to patrol subway platforms and trains. We added roughly 1,200 additional overtime officer shifts each day on the subway, dramatically increasing the police presence across the system.


We now have more police officers available to assist riders. Overall station inspections are up 43% in 2023 so far, compared to the same period in 2022. And we have stopped the cruel practice of just walking by people in need. Since announcing the first phase of our plan last February, we have removed the homeless encampments from our system and successfully connected more than 4,000 people facing homelessness with shelter and the assistance they deserve.


During the pandemic, subway ridership declined, and crime grew. Many riders, particularly women and people of color, sought alternative options, like the nanny who decided to bike to work in Brooklyn because of concerns about anti-Asian hate or the bartender who opted to split a cab with her co-workers because she didn’t feel safe on the system late at night.


It’s clear that our approach to making a safer subway system for these riders is working. As a result of our efforts, major crime in transit stations is down 18% since the beginning of 2023 through February 26th, compared with the same period in 2022. We are seeing the most riders on the system since the pandemic, and they are reporting an increased sense of security. In December, subway ridership topped 3.9 million people in one day, the highest number since the pre-pandemic period. Over 1 billion riders used the system last year. And with more people on the train looking out for each other, our system is feeling safer every day.


I take the subway and I talk to riders, transit officers, and MTA employees. They tell me that the feeling of normalcy is returning, and they encourage me to push forward. I hear them: we must continue to remain vigilant and keep building a safer system for all.


The New York City subway is the symbol of the greatest city on earth. It creates economic opportunities and access, improves traffic congestion, and makes the air better for everyone. Together, we will keep it safe and ensure that New York City remains the safest big city in the nation.


Monday, February 27, 2023

Embassy Puts the Spotlight on Local Filipino-American Theater Makers

Consul General Iric Cruz Arribas (center) presents certificates of appreciation to the panel speakers and moderator. The theater makers from right to left are Ms. Regina Aquino (moderator), Mr. Joseph Pinzon, Mr. Justin Huertas (kneeling), Ms. Sally Imbriano, Mr. Raymond Caldwell, and Ms. Justine “Icy” Moral.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Embassy of the Philippines, in partnership with Ms. Regina Aquino, organized a panel discussion entitled Filipino American Theater Makers: A Panel Discussion with Filipinos Who are Moving Theater Forward. It was held in celebration of the Filipino National Arts Month.

The panel discussion, moderated by Ms. Aquino, featured local Filipino-Americans in the DC theater scene and arts namely Justine Moral, Justin Huertas, Raymond Caldwell, Joseph Pinzon, and Sally Imbriano, who discussed their challenges, experiences, and insights on Filipino representation in theater while also sharing how their Filipino heritage influenced their craft. 

In his opening remarks, Consul General Iric Cruz Arribas said the Embassy fully supports the promotion of Filipino talent in theater, and that the appreciation of the American society of the talent of the Filipino is a shared task. “It is not only for the Filipino artists themselves to do alone, nor by the Philippine government through our embassy and consulates throughout the US alone but by the whole FIlipino-American community… The success of a Filipino American is a source of pride and inspiration for all Filipinos to embrace.” he said.

The panel welcomes both the live and online audience to Filipino American Theater Makers: A Panel Discussion with Filipinos Who are Moving Theater Forward.

The community can support the arts and Filipino culture by watching Filipino-American artists at the Kennedy Center Family Theater as they join the cast, production, and creative team for “The Mortification of Fovea Munson” from March 4 to 19,2023. It is a musical play with music written by a FIlipino American, performed by Filipino Americans, with references to Filipino cultural practices. Further details may be found at…/mortification-of…/.

Regina Aquino is a Filipino actor, creative, and activist. Born and raised in Maryland, she has performed on many of DC’s stages since 2002. She has been nominated for multiple Helen Hayes Awards and in 2019, was the recipient of the Outstanding Lead Performer in a Play Award for her work in THE EVENTS at Theater Alliance. She is the first Filipino to have earned the distinction. Know more about Regina at

Raymond O. Caldwell is an award-winning director and producer of Filipino, German, and African-American descent who has been leading Washington, DC’s Theater Alliance as Producing Artistic Director since 2018. Know more about Raymond at 

Justin Huertas is a composer-lyricist of The Mortification of Fovea Munson. His next projects are a world premiere musical at Seattle Rep called Lydia & the Troll and the Off-Broadway premiere of the first musical he ever wrote: Lizard Boy. Know more about Justin through his Instagram account @justinhuertas.

Justine “Icy” Moral has been seen onstage, on television, and heard on the radio across the US and the Philippines! Born in Maryland but often visiting the Philippines, she grew up performing in concerts and theatre productions. As a teen, she released a Pop Album in the Philippines titled Dream Away and has performed with Filipino Artists like Regine Velasquez and Jaya. In college she studied classical voice, and throughout her life has always found joy working in Theatre. Some of her stage credits include Ragtime, The King and I, Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, and more! Know more about Justine through her Instagram account @justineicymoral.

Joseph Pinzon has over 20 years of performing experience. He holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA and is a graduate of the National Circus School in Montreal, where he specialized in aerial techniques. He has worked internationally with companies such as Cirque Éloize, Compagnia Finzi Pasca, Cirque du Soleil, Les 7 Doigts de la Main, Chämaleon Productions, and Wintergarten Varieté. He just earned a Master of Science in Arts Leadership at the University of Southern California. Know more about Joe at

A first-generation, Filipino-Australian American, Sally Imbriano grew up in Northern Virginia before traveling abroad for her undergraduate and master’s degrees. Sally studied at the University of New South Wales Australia (Bachelor of Music/Science) and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (Master of Musical Theatre). She’s graced stages in Sydney, Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, and even the Baltic Sea, performing on a cruise! She prizes these experiences as well as her time singing with the Burgundian Consort and St James Choir Sydney, two prestigious choral groups in Australia. Now that she’s back in DC, she’s taken her performance knowledge to students and stages alike.

The discussion is available on demand on Ms. Aquino’s youtube page here:


Friday, February 24, 2023

Photos: Saturday Consular Services at PH Consulate in New York Held Feb 18

Consul General Senen T. Mangalile Administers the Oath of Philippine Citizenship 

'Consulate Saturday'. The Philippine Consulate opened on a Saturday for Kababayan who booked appointments for the following consular services: passport application and renewal, retention and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship (dual citizenship), travel document application, notarization and certification of documents; and Overseas Voters Registration. February 18, 2023. New York. Photos by Lambert Parong.

Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media © 2023
All Rights Reserved

President Marcos Declares Feb. 24 as Special Non-Working Day, Commemorating EDSA Revolution

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has declared Friday, February 24 as a special non-working day “to enable Filipinos to enjoy the benefits of holiday economics.”

Malacañang on Thursday released Proclamation No. 167 signed by President Marcos, declaring a holiday throughout the country in line with the celebration of EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary.

“The celebration of EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary may be moved from 25 February 2023 (Saturday) to 24 February 2023 (Friday), provided that the historical significance of the EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary is maintained,” the President said in the proclamation.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is directed to issue appropriate circular to implement the proclamation for the private sector.

President Marcos has earlier signed Proclamation 90 pushing for holiday economics, aimed at ushering in long weekends to provide Filipinos much-needed opportunity for travel while at the same time help government prop up its tourism revenues.


Philippine Consulate General in New York Conducts 'Consulate Saturday' Activity

Kababayan, who booked their appointments with the Philippine Consulate General in New York, wait for their turn to be served during the Consulate Saturday activity held at the Philippine Center on 18 February 2023 (Philippine Consulate General in New York Photo by Anton Ocampo)

NEW YORK – More than 100 Filipinos were served during the “Consulate Saturday” activity conducted by the Philippine Consulate General in New York on 18 February 2023 at the Philippine Center.

For the first time this year, the Consulate opened its doors on a Saturday to deliver consular services to our kababayan. The activity dubbed as “Consulate Saturday” is held once every quarter of the year to accommodate Filipinos who could not miss work on weekdays. The service was held in parallel with the 9th Filipino-American Community General Assembly also held in the Philippine Center.

The Consulate was open from 10:00AM until 4:00PM to provide the following services: passport application and renewal, retention and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship (dual citizenship), travel document application, notarization and certification of documents; and Overseas Voters Registration.

In the wake of the Consulate’s diminished budget for Consular Outreach Missions in 2023, the Consulate intends to dedicate certain Consulate Saturday activities throughout the year to serve Filipino communities living in far-flung areas within its jurisdiction.

The next Consulate Saturdays are scheduled on 06 May, on 02 September, and on 18 November of 2023. More dates are expected to be added.


Opinion: 37th Anniversary of the Glorious People Power Revolution in PH By Manuel L. Caballero





The PH 1986 People Power Revolution was aptly described by historians and observers as "glorious."

It was glorious because the aim of the revolution, which was to oust the Marcoses from power because of cruelty, corruption and extravagance was achieved in a peaceful manner.

The revolution took place because the patience of the Filipinos was cut short and their memory was lengthened.


Bongbong Marcos Jr., who is widely believed to have reached the country's presidency in a rigged election, is trying to hide, and even reverse, this historical fact from the Filipino people. Especially those who were born after the revolution that ousted his father and his entire family from the Philippines, due to the abuses committed by Marcos Sr. and wife Imelda for 20 years.

In fact, we believe that the Marcos, Jr. declaration of Feb. 24 as a non-working holiday is not to make the people observe the glorious day, but rather, to prevent Filipinos, especially students, from joining the commemorative event along EDSA, the site of the Revolution 37 years ago.


Thursday, February 23, 2023

PH: Science Should Guide Us in Pursuing Security Agenda on Sea-level Rise

Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Ariel Rodelas Peñaranda, Chargé d’affaires, a.i. of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, said “it is important that discussions on the implication of sea-level rise on peace and security be always people-centered” during a Security Council open debate on the theme of “Sea-Level Rise”, 14 February 2023 (Photo Credit: New York UN Photo Library)

– Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Ariel Rodelas Peñaranda, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, asserted that the convergence of scientific opinion should guide UN Member States in pursuing a common security agenda on sea-level rise. Ambassador Peñaranda was speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on sea-level rise, which was convened under the presidency of Malta on 14 February 2023 at the Security Council Chamber of the United Nations.

In his statement, Ambassador Peñaranda said that the UN, especially the Security Council, should take into account the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, including their projections and recommendations.

He highlighted how the Philippines, with more than half of its cities and communities located along its coasts, is one of the most vulnerable to sea-level rise due to anthropogenic climate change. He said that the Philippines has observed sea-level rise at 60 centimeters, about three times that of the global average.

Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, in his opening statement, said, “The danger is especially acute for nearly 900 million people who live in coastal zones at low elevations — that is one out of ten people on earth.  Some coastlines have already seen triple the average rate of sea-level rise.”

Ambassador Peñaranda added that the impacts of sea-level rise threaten all the elements that encompass the national security of the Philippines, and noted that “The nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the people’s well-being, core values, and way of life, among others, are being threatened, especially those living in the coastal areas.” He said that it is important that discussions on the implication of sea-level rise on peace and security be always people-centered.

Ambassador Peñaranda cautioned -- as sea-level rise threatens stability of boundaries -- against inference in favor of ambulatory baselines, and stressed the importance of certainty, predictability and stability in boundaries, which will also serve to prevent conflict.

He emphasized, however, that the forum for discussing climate change and international commitments to address the varied aspects of climate action is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Security Council Open Debate aimed at highlighting the risks to international peace and security posed by sea level rise, and explore ways how the Security Council can address these risks in the global security architecture and invest in preventive mechanisms.


Mayor Adams Signs Eight Bills, Taking Action to Address Pay Disparities, Support New Yorkers With Disabilities

 New York City Mayor Eric Adams  on Tuesday February 21st, signed eight pieces of legislation to address pay disparities within the city’s municipal workforce and to support New Yorkers living with disabilities residing in shelters or in affordable housing units. Intros 515-A, 527-A, and 521-A bolster’s the city’s efforts to close pay disparities and strengthen the city’s Pay Equity Law to ensure all city workers are paid fairly. Intros 92-A, 141-A, 375-A, 676-A, and 421-A will support New Yorkers living with disabilities residing in city shelters and in affordable housing units by creating an accessibility advisory board, increasing signage for power-operated doors, and requiring housing developments that receive city funding to incorporate universal design into their spaces, making them more accessible.

“Our city workers keep New York City moving and work around the clock across all five boroughs to ensure New Yorkers get the services they need. The first package of bills will help address pay disparities within our city workforce, so every worker is paid fairly,” said Mayor Adams. “This second package will bolster our efforts to support New Yorkers with disabilities. Our city must be accessible for everyone, and these bills will make our buildings, shelters, and affordable housing spaces more accessible, welcoming, and livable for all.”

Intro 515-A — sponsored by New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams — requires city agency annual employment plans to include information on compensation and efforts to address pay disparities within their workforce.

Intro 527-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa — requires DCAS to assess its efforts to provide equal opportunity for a diverse universe of applicants for municipal employment.

Intro 541-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Farah N. Louis — amends the existing Pay Equity Law by requiring DCAS to collect and share additional data with the City Council in an effort to identify and address pay disparities within the city workforce.

Intro 92-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Diana Ayala — creates an accessibility board to advise and make recommendations to the mayor, City Council, and city agencies on ways to increase accessibility for clients living in city shelters.

Intro 141-A — also sponsored by Councilmember Ayala — requires signage at each entrance or egress to a building required to have power-operated or power-assisted and low-energy doors, directing people to that door.

Intro 375-A — also sponsored by Councilmember Ayala — requires HPD to report every three years on how many of their affordable housing units are set aside for people living with disabilities and are rented to people with disabilities.

Intro 676-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Crystal Hudson — requires HPD develop a list of universal design features and require developers who receive city financial assistance to incorporate universal design in all dwelling units in new housing development projects.

Intro 421-A — sponsored by New York City Councilmember Kevin Riley — requires the New York City Department of Homeless Services to produce a quarterly report on families with children living in shelter and include the number of families in each type of shelter, their average length of stay, how many exit for permanent housing, and metrics on school enrollment and attendance.


Marcos Administration’s BroadBand ng Masa Program to Boost Wi-Fi Connectivity in PH with 1st Subsea Cable System Project

The administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is set to speed up the country’s Wi-Fi connectivity as it links up with Converge ICT Solutions Inc., a telecommunication service provider in the Philippines that operates fiber optic broadband networks.

President Marcos met in Malacanang Palace Tuesday Converge founder and CEO Dennis Anthony Uy and proponent partner Thomas Pang Thieng Hwi, CEO and executive director of Keppel Telecommunications and Transportation Inc., where the chief executive was elated on the information that the Philippines will soon have a bigger bandwidth and faster internet connection.

“I just finished a meeting with the Converge group who have tied up with the Keppel group to put in a submarine fiber optic cable from the west coast of the United States; it will connect to the Philippines and it will also connect to Singapore and Indonesia and this will again give us bigger bandwidth,” the President reported.

“This will give us a better communication system when it comes to all the online services that we are using globally,” the chief executive said.


President Marcos said Bifrost Cable System Project, a joint undertaking of Converge and Keppel T&T, would include the Philippines in its fiber optic cable coming from the west coast of the United States.

“So madadagdagan ‘yung ating bandwidth at magiging mas mabilis ‘yung ating internet. Itong usapan na ito ay naging bunga nung pagpunta ko sa Singapore… pinag-usapan namin ito kaya’t ngayon nabuo na at ilalagay nila, isasama nila ang Pilipinas doon sa kanilang mahabang fiber optic na kable na galing sa California, galing sa west coast ng Amerika, hanggang Pilipinas, hanggang Singapore, hanggang Indonesia,” the President explained.

Based on the meeting briefer with Converge and Keppel group, the Bifrost Cable System Project is the world’s first subsea cable system that directly connects Singapore to the west coast of North America, passing through Indonesia, Philippines and Guam.

The multiple fiber-paired, high-performance Bifrost Cable System will also be the largest high-speed transmission cable across the Pacific Ocean, it added.

It said the 15,000-kilometer system, which is expected to be completed in 2024, aims to boost the connectivity of the region’s governments and businesses, including cloud operators, telecommunications operators, network providers, over-the-top providers, data centers, and consumers for a better digital experience.

As of January 2023, the Ookla Speedtest Global Index data showed that the Philippines ranked 82nd out of 142 countries in terms of mobile internet speed and 41st out of 180 countries in terms of fixed broadband media speed.

To date, the national government’s free Wi-Fi program BroadBand ng Masa (BBM), through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), has established a total of 4,385 operational live sites in 73 provinces and Metro Manila, across 601 cities and municipalities all around the country.

These include those in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) like the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi (BaSuLTa), and the Pag-asa Island of the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the province of Palawan.

It has approximately 4 million unique users nationwide.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces 10th Anniversary of Transformative Taste NY Program

New York's Flagship Eat Local, Drink Local Program Has Delivered Over $100 Million in Economic Impacts. Open House at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center Highlights New York State Farmers and Agricultural Producers and Regional Tourism Offerings. Series of Celebrations Planned at Taste NY Markets Across the State in 2023. 

Governor Kathy Hochul today kicked off the State's 10-year anniversary celebrations for Taste NY, New York's official 'eat local, drink local' program, at a special open house at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center in Geneva. The event showcased the diversity and uniqueness of New York State's farmers and food and beverage producers, as well as regional tourism destinations. Today's celebration marked the first in a series of events that are planned across the state in recognition of the 2023 10-year milestone and the program's success, which has brought over $100 million in economic impact to New York State producers.

"Over the last decade, Taste NY has become a recognizable brand known for quality, creativity, and passion," Governor Hochul said. "Taste NY is a cornerstone of our mission to promote New York's farmers and producers, showcasing the best food, beverage, and gift products from businesses in every corner of our great state. I'm proud to announce the year-long celebration of Taste NY's tenth anniversary today and look forward to continuing to support our agri-businesses and the breadth of our local New York products."

Taste NY has grown significantly since its launch and products can now be found at nearly 70 locations across New York State, including the 11 regional Welcome Centers, airports, State parks, the Javits Center, and more. Over the last decade Taste NY has also partnered with major sports venues, such as MVP Arena and the Blue Cross Arena, and formed partnerships with high profile event organizers to bring Taste NY products to major sporting events such as the PGA Tour, the 2023 FISU World University Games, and the Saratoga Race Course.

Today's kick-off celebration event at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center brought together regional agricultural, tourism, and supporting partners to introduce visitors to the New York farmers and producers whose products are available at the Welcome Center. Vendors sampling at the event included Smokin' Tails Distillery, Red Jacket Orchards, Muranda Cheese, 4J's NVR Specialty Sauces, 3 Brothers Wineries, Fulkerson Winery, Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery, Syrup a'La Rue, Brewery Ardennes, Geneva Reads, Karma Sauce, the Gourmet Butter Shop, Mama's Got You Catering, Green Heart of the Finger Lakes®, and New York Kitchen. Additionally, the Welcome Center offered 10 percent off all purchases, $0.99 ice cream, and the chance to win a special giveaway basket in celebration of the 10-year milestone.

First opened in 2018, the Taste NY Market at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center works closely with area craft beverage, agriculture, and culinary vendors to promote food and beverage producers from the Finger Lakes area and from across the state. Since its opening, the Welcome Center has brought in over 1,900 New York products into the Market from over 280 vendors. In 2022, the Welcome Center's sales totaled close to $430,000, a 1.7 percent growth over the previous year, and over 235,600 visitors stopped by to experience the best of New York State.

A series of events is planned across the state to celebrate Taste NY's 10th anniversary this year, including at Welcome Centers run by the Department's partners at the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation. The milestone will also be marked through a special web page highlighting milestone events in the 10 years of the program, social media campaigns, and more. Additionally, will be honoring the statewide #TasteTurns10 celebration by offering free statewide shipping all year and highlighting each region's products with special markdowns during the month of their 10th anniversary event. The next event will take place in the Southern Tier in March and information about additional events will be posted on when it becomes available.

About the Taste NY Market at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center
The Taste NY Market at the Finger Lake Welcome Center offers hot and cold lunch options all made from fresh ingredients and products grown and produced by local farmers. The Market also offers New York State-made wine, beer, and cider, grab-and-go snacks, and gifts. Additionally, the Welcome Center highlight's the region's tourism industry, with multiple interactive I Love New York kiosks positioned throughout, allowing visitors to test their knowledge of the region or design a trip itinerary.

About Taste NY
Taste NY highlights the quality, diversity, and economic impact of food and beverages grown, produced, or processed in New York State. Taste NY aims to create new opportunities for producers through events, retail locations, and partnerships, such as at the Great New York State Fair and the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage State Park. Over the last 10 years, Taste NY has supported nearly 2,000 food and beverage producers participating in the program through retail outlets, events, and sponsorships. In 2022, 311 new producers were onboarded to the program through New York's Welcome Centers. Taste NY's food and beverage businesses also support the state's farmers by using New York grown and produced ingredients in their products.


Mayor Adams, NYC Parks Commissioner Donoghue Announce Selection of Legends Hospitality as new Operator of the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park

Legends Hospitality Commits $3.2 Million Capital Investment Into The Loeb Boathouse, Along With $250,000 for Structural Maintenance Improvements. Iconic Central Park Venue Hopefully Will Open to New Yorkers and Visitors This Summer.

– New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue on Thursday February 16th, announced that the city has selected Legends Hospitality as its new operator for the iconic Loeb Boathouse in Central Park, for a 10-year term. If approved by the Franchise & Concession Review Committee (FCRC), the iconic venue will reopen to the public this summer.

“The Central Park Boathouse has been a landmark for generations of New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “When it closed last year, many worried about its future, but our administration moved quickly to keep this piece of New York City history alive. Thanks to the fast work of NYC Parks, we’ve selected a new operator so the Boathouse can come back better than ever, ensuring tourists and New Yorkers alike can enjoy this beautiful space and scenery once again.”

“Central Park’s Loeb Boathouse is a landmark venue that has delighted New Yorkers and visitors to our city for more than 70 years,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “We are thrilled that the Boathouse will soon reopen under the expert management of Legends Hospitality, and we look forward to working with them as they steward this beloved park treasure.”

“Legends is honored to be selected by NYC Parks to operate the iconic Loeb Boathouse in Central Park,” said Dan Smith, president, Legends Hospitality. “We proudly serve as stewards of legendary brands around the globe and are committed to making the Loeb Boathouse a dining destination that provides memorable experiences for visitors and locals for years to come.”


First initially opened more than 150 years ago, The Loeb Boathouse shut down on December 31, 2022. In August 2022, NYC Parks launched a competitive-negotiated concession process in which operators were invited to submit their plans and interest in operating, renovating, and maintaining a high-quality restaurant, snack bar, and rowboat rental at The Loeb Boathouse. After engaging with all interested parties, NYC Parks selected Legends Hospitality to operate the site. In accordance with the competitive negotiated process, NYC Parks’ license agreement with Legends Hospitality will go before the city’s FCRC for a public hearing on March 3, 2023. If approved, the Boathouse could be open as early as summer of 2023.

As part of their agreement, Legends Hospitality has committed to a $3,250,000 capital investment into The Loeb Boathouse, along with $250,000 for structural maintenance improvements. The company is planning a complete refresh of the menus at the Boathouse, including collaborations with iconic chefs, and an overhaul of the boat rental program, with added credit card payment acceptance and an online booking system. Their restoration plans also include renovating and expanding public restrooms, connecting the upper and lower outdoor dining patios and upgrading patio service, upgrading the building systems to be more efficient and sustainable, and fostering improvements to the outdoor bar to open up views from the pathways to the pond.

Legends Hospitality is a division of global premium experiences company Legends. Within New York City, they currently operate at One World Observatory, Yankee Stadium, the Intrepid, Circle Line, and Oculus Beer Garden. Legends’ past projects, current portfolio, and financial capacity will enable the company to carry out all aspects of the license agreement and provide a key amenity to the millions visiting Central Park every year.

Located on the eastern shore of the 72nd Street Lake in Central Park, The Loeb Boathouse first opened in 1872 and was rebuilt in 1952, and has subsequently served as a unique dining and recreational amenity in one of New York City’s most picturesque locations. The restaurant’s main dining room opens onto the lake and features accordion style glass windows that fold back to allow the restaurant to become totally open to the lake during the warmer months, and close to allow for uninterrupted views with protection from the elements during the winter months. The building also includes an indoor bar with a large stone fireplace, a snack bar with indoor and outdoor access and seating, a Lake Room currently used for special events, and an enclosed courtyard accessible to the public. Rowboats are also rented from an outdoor kiosk with boats stored on a series of wooden docks.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Marcos Administration Shares Strategies on Creating Jobs and Decent Work at U.N. High Level Meeting on Social Development

DOLE Undersecretary Carmela I. Torres cites the three points in the 8-point Economic Agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.: create more jobs, create quality jobs, and create green jobs, at the 61st Session of the Commission for Social Development, UN Headquarters, New York, 7 February 2023 (Photo credit: New York PM)

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK - At the 61st session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, Undersecretary Carmela I. Torres of the Department of Labor and Employment stressed the importance of creating decent jobs and establishing social protection programs to overcome inequalities and accelerate recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The current session is underway at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 06 February to 15 February 2023.

Delivering the Philippine statement, Undersecretary Torres shared with Member States the efforts of the Philippines to recover from the pandemic.

“The government of the Philippines moved quickly to help businesses and households by enacting economic stimulus measures and establishing programs to provide financial assistance, as well as to help workers by enacting emergency support programs and measures to increase job security,” Undersecretary Torres said.

She also said that in order to hasten recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic, the development of a labor market that is more inclusive, equitable, and flexible is essential.

To accomplish this, Undersecretary Torres said the Philippines “implemented policies and actions that encourage the expansion of employment, improved the quality of existing jobs, fostered equitable opportunities, and minimized inequalities.”

Undersecretary Torres also made reference to the three points in the 8-point Economic Agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.: create more jobs, create quality jobs, and create green jobs. These are aligned with the theme of the meeting which is “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Undersecretary Torres reiterated the President’s call to development partners to support the Philippine Development Plan.

Undersecretary Torres said that the Philippines has employed integrated strategies to accelerate transition from informal to formal jobs. The Philippines has also put in place policies and procedures to address gender wage and pension inequities, as well as enable and support the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, notably women, in the labor market. She highlighted the government’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through continuous social dialogue.

Undersecretary Torres also moderated the high-level panel discussion on the priority theme and served as a panelist in the Ministerial Roundtable.

At the opening of the session, Ambassador Lachezara Stoeva, President of the Economic and Social Council, emphasized the importance of putting people first if the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are to be realized by the 2030 deadline.

“Putting people first means we must create opportunities for young people to accumulate knowledge and skills relevant for the labour market through education, training, and early work experience,” Ambassador Stoeva said.

Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, earlier briefed Undersecretary Ariel Rodelas Penaranda, Chargé d’affaires, a.i. Torres on Philippine engagement with the Commission for Social Development, as the Philippine Delegation took note of Philippine priorities for the session.

The Commission for Social Development advises the Economic and Social Council and Governments on a wide range of social policy issues and on the social perspective of development. It is the forum that looks into where the world is in terms of poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and on other social matters.


Governor Hochul Announces Expansion of Statewide Program to Help High-Skilled Immigrants Find Jobs

$4.38 Million in Grant Funding Will Support Professional Training and Job Placements for High-Skilled Immigrants in New York. Expansion of Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants Program Builds on Governor Hochul's Commitment to Strengthening Workforce Development Programming for Immigrants.

Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday February 17th, announced the expansion of the New York State Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants Program to help new Americans find jobs that match their skills and experience. As part of the program's expansion, a total of $4.38 million in state-funded grants will be awarded to community-based providers to support professional training and job placement efforts for an increased number of high-skilled immigrants in New York. The grants will be awarded over three years and are administered by the New York State Office for New Americans. The expansion of the Professional Pathways program builds on Governor Hochul's commitment to strengthening the state's workforce development programming for immigrants, which was first highlighted in the 2022 State of the State.

"For generations, the hard work and determination of immigrants who have come to New York to build a better life for themselves and their families has shaped our state into what it is today," Governor Hochul said. "By expanding the Professional Pathways for High-Skilled Immigrants program, we're strengthening our support for new Americans in our state and connecting immigrants with the tools they need to enter the workforce and pursue the New York Dream."

First launched in 2021, the NYS Professional Pathways program helps high-skilled immigrants overcome barriers to professional development by screening, training and/or re-credentialing candidates and identifying job placement opportunities for low-income immigrants in high-need regions across the state. The program is tailored specifically for fields that are currently in need of highly skilled workers in New York State, including architecture, engineering, information technology, education, social work, economics, business management and journalism.

The Professional Pathways program has already brought great success to many immigrants in New York State in its first year. As of January 31, 2023, according to the Professional Pathways Lead Agency Upwardly Global, 282 job seekers were accepted into the program and received U.S. job readiness training and coaching, and 88 job seekers had been placed in professional-level positions, with placements ongoing. Participants for this program must be work authorized in the United States.

Under these new, expanded grants administered by the Office for New Americans (ONA), Upwardly Global will be funded to continue serving as the Professional Pathways Lead Agency, providing program direction and statewide technical assistance to a network of ONA Job Coaches. In addition, other not-for-profit organizations will be funded to serve as ONA Job Coach agencies in different regions of the state, with Long Island added as a new region under this program expansion.

The Professional Pathways partners are as follows:

  • Statewide Lead Agency: Upwardly Global
  • ONA Job Coach - Brooklyn/Queens: Upwardly Global
  • ONA Job Coach - Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island: Upwardly Global
  • ONA Job Coach - Capital Region: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • ONA Job Coach - Central NY: InterFaith Works
  • ONA Job Coach - Long Island: Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN)
  • ONA Job Coach - Mohawk Valley: The Center
  • ONA Job Coach - Western NY: International Institute of Buffalo

More information about the Professional Pathways program and how to apply is available here.

New York Immigration Coalition Executive Director Murad Awawdeh said, "We thank Governor Hochul for recognizing the crucial contributions of immigrants in shaping New York State throughout history. By investing in our newcomer community, she is ensuring that more New Yorkers have the skills needed to enter the workforce and grow our economy now and into the future. Finding the right job is an essential part of building a quality life, stabilizing families and communities, while ensuring the health of New York businesses and our economy."

The New York State Office for New Americans, founded in 2012, is the nation's first statutorily created immigrant services office. ONA assists all new Americans with accessing and navigating a variety of free services and support through its statewide network of community-based providers.

For any immigrant in need of assistance, or to connect with ONA's programs, call the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday through Friday. All calls are confidential. Assistance is available in over 200 languages. For more information, visit or follow ONA on Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook at