The Pandemic Formed This Barkada In New York City

What does “Barkada” mean? It means your group of friends, your gang, peers, or homies. For these individuals and small businesses, it means family–kapatid (sibling), kapamilya (family member) here in New York City. It started with friends, Deirdre Levy and Lugao Kasberg, who were delivering PPE’s, through Mask Our Heroes, a non-profit organization dedicated to help and protect those in the front lines at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the risk is high of contracting the virus, these guys braved the streets of New York and even discussed feeding the homeless while doing the deliveries. Together with Joey Golja and through AJ Lavilla’s push that they should all collaborate, the three musketeers, Deirdre, Lugao, and Joey started “Project Barkada.”

While the pandemic has become more and more disastrous, the barkada on the other hand grew in number. They’ve grown even stronger with the community’s participation and overflowing support.

According to Deirdre Levy, “It originally started just helping those in need and doing so by working with Filipino businesses who were trying to keep afloat.” Through collaboration and ‘Bayanihan‘, the barkada became one big familia amidst the pandemic and it continues to multiply with proverbial Pinoy speed.

“And that’s how we collaborated with Augee of Kabisera Café too. She was doing her deliveries and there were times when we delivered together. Kabisera was a center in most things and how so many people blew up.” Levy added.

Here are some of the amazing Barkadas and personalities to note, so please continue to support them in any way you can. Start by following them and get updates on events and other happenings.

The Project Barkada continues to grow (expanding in other states, too)–getting more creative, doing more help to the community (often in their own wonderful, generous way), and helping each other–like a family. The love, support, and respect for each other will always be there but the heart for those who most needed help will always be its foundation.

It is such a joy and inspiration to see events by our Barkadas that has an element of activism, volunteerism, social impact, or charitable cause incorporated into it. Let’s wish and pray for these guys to keep doing well by doing good.

7 Wines That’ll Awaken Your Palate This Summer

Featuring curated bottles you need to cool down in style before summer ends. 

It’s easy to get a bottle of wine at the nearest corner deli here in New York City and it’s a swift click to add bottles to your online cart, but to know which one suits you or your guests’ palate can be a bit of a dilemma—perhaps you’re craving for a Sauvignon Blanc but it doesn’t go with the dinner menu you’ve planned out or you’re trying to impress a partner with pasta from your family’s old recipe but it isn’t quite apt for the Pinot Noir you have at home.

So what grape variety and vintage should you get that suit you or your guests? What bottles would you open for your friends who are visiting from California? What’s best to pair with the dinner you’ve personally prepared for your date? One might say, “I don’t want to be too philosophical about what type of wine to get.” This is just against the manifesto of all fine winemakers, living or dead. When it comes to wine, one must be really discerning. 

Here, we have curated a list from PW Distributors NY, wine importer and distributor of the finest wines from acclaimed wineries in Tuscany, Sicily, Piedmont, Campania, Veneto, and many more.


Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio 2020 (Veneto)

This beauty is light-bodied and dry with hints of orange zest. Best enjoyed with shellfish, seafood, and salads. It recently won a Bronze Medal at the recently held Decanter World Wine Awards 2021. For more information on its flavor and aroma as well as other Italo Cescon wines, check out


Ciani Wishing Angel Sparkling Rosé (Campania)

This pride of Campania region has a nose of wild strawberry and a minor note of cyclamen. Like other extra dry Rosés, it’s best paired with white meat but the epicurean Ciani family recommends pairing it with Duck a l’Orange.


Borgo Maragliano La Caliera Moscato D’Asti 2016 (Piedmont)

Is a full-bodied Moscato with a wild bouquet of candied fruit and acacia blossom. La Caliera is made from 100% Moscato Bianco di Canelli. This pairs well with most cheeses, sweets, and antipasto.


Marchesi Incisa Della Rochetta Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2015 (Piedmont)

In its early stages of ageing, its profile has notes of violet, cherry, and plum, while it develops tertiary notes of tobacco, cocoa, leather, and licorice. It is owned by one of the oldest families in Piedmont, the Incisa Della Rochetta family, whose wine-making dates back to the 11th century. This bottle matches very well with roasted red meats and various aged cheeses.


Tonnino Mediterraneo Chenin Blanc 2018 (Sicily)

From Tonnino Winery, a family of winemakers who takes pride in creating wines that are farmed and produced naturally—from grape to bottle. This Sicilian charmer has an intense shining yellow color with rich floral notes laced with peaches and honey. This 100% Chenin Blanc is recommended to pair with fish-based dishes, lobster, crab, and white meats.


Bounamico Dea Rosa 2020 (Tuscany)

This multi-awarded Rosé wine may be the freshest aperitif you’ll ever discover. It is an excellent pair for your charcuterie and appetizers. The dominant notes of cherries blend perfectly well with fish mains and beans or lentil soups.


Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG (Piedmont)

This delicate straw-yellow Gavi di Gavi has an edge of orange blossom that is dry yet with a fresh mouthfeel that leaves a subtle bitterness in the back. It pairs well with appetizers, fish and white meat dishes. It’s a supple white that’s suitable for all occasions. We recommend this to best match with Linguine Alle Vongole.

Saluti to drinking in style again!

PW Distributors NY supplies to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores all over New York City. Connecting the gap between the world’s best vineyards and the world’s best people (New Yorkers, of course) for about two decades now. They maintain a well-curated roster of wines from different wine regions in Italy, Oregon (United States), South Africa, South America, among others.

Contact them below for more information about the complete wine selection, request an appointment, or schedule a tasting.

PW Distributors NY
1813 42nd St., Astoria, Queens, New York, NY
Phone: 718 7846016

Photo credits: Italo Cescon, Tonnino,, Ciani

Historic Olympic Gold

Hidilyn Diaz wins first Gold Olympic gong for the Philippines. A woman weightlifter gave the country its first Olympic Gold (Tokyo 2020) medal. She’s won an Olympic Silver medal for the sport in Rio 2016. Despite the lack of athletic funding and support from the government, Diaz triumphed to become a pillar of strength, hope, and inspiration. Such a great Olympic moment.

#LakasAtTapang #LabanBabae #Olympics2020

Photo credit:

Hiraya: Collab Is In Fashion, So Is Self-care

Hiraya by Carla, the makers of stylish face masks, scarves, and maskadas (neckerchief) based in New York City, has launched its new baby: Hiraya Clothing. The collection is handcrafted with precision and love just like all Hiraya creations.

New York City-based Actor/Singer, Carla Mongado, has teamed up with Elaine Baskin Bey, a seasoned designer who has been in the industry for over four decades. Baskin Bey has designed for legends such as Eartha Kitt, Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, and Marvin Gaye, among others. Elaine always has unique ideas and designs and she keeps on innovating much like how Carla innovates on her designs, too, which is apt in a fashion-forward city like New York. The collaboration’s launch is simultaneous with Hiraya’s release of its new collection of face masks for Spring/Summer 2021.


Hiraya Clothing will be introduced on June 26 at Kalye Kabisera along Allen Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City, from noon onwards. Other fashionista partners to be featured in the event are Natibo atbp. by Hatzumomo, Fleurenz, and Self First Club. This first-ever outdoor fashion event along Allen Street coincides with @SoSarapNYC’s “Tambayan Saturday” gig. This special event is co-organized by Kabisera Collective, Kabisera NYC’s event and marketing arm highlighting small businesses and up-and-coming brands, artists, chefs, and food creatives.

‘Hiraya’ or vision, which turned one year in May 2021, is Carla Mongado’s brainchild and was envisaged at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. While the brand aims to continue to remind people of wearing masks whenever they are in a public setting, it also wants to add more color, attitude, and life to its designs, which is apparent in its latest collection.

According to Mongado, “New Yorkers can still look and feel chic while wearing masks and it is indisputable that self-care is the next trend in fashion. This is what we are working on in the past year or so and we will continue to find unique fabrics and deliver the same quality products that stylize while keeping our valued customers safe.”

“Hiraya just recently turned one year and I’m very grateful to everyone who supported our brand from its infancy. I’m thrilled to present Hiraya Clothing, a collab with the amazing Elaine Baskin Bey, to our customers here in the states, Europe, and Asia.”, Mongado added.

Aside from Hiraya, Carla Mongado has been part of the cast album recording for Platinum Girls – The Musical by Andrew Beall and very recently she has been doing vocal demos for Beall’s new musical, Goodbye New York. She also maintains her own virtual music and voice coaching sessions on weekends.

For custom orders, email

Hiraya’s new website is out to launch soon, meanwhile please keep track on the gram: @hirayabycarla

📷 Courtesy of Hiraya by Carla; Models: @Jlfarin, @Rose_verde

It’s So Sarap In NYC

Kabisera Cafe and So Sarap NYC are teaming up once again come summer of this year. Kabisera is known in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for its coffee, Pinoy pastries, and brunches; while So Sarap NYC is the game-changer in the Filipino street food pop-up scene.

Kabisera X So Sarap NYC 2021

So Sarap NYC founders Vj and Sebastien, together with Kabisera owners Augee and Joey, are cooking up something mind-blowing and yet very familiar Filipino street food treats that you won’t find anywhere in New York or America for that matter.

Its Instagram page @sosarapnyc teases a street food vendor of Mangga (Mango) and Bagoong (Shrimp paste). This is just one of the many vendor stalls you’ll discover when they roll out their roster of vendors along Allen Street in Lower Manhattan in a few weeks time.

According to Vice‘s Food and Culture correspondent, Bettina Makalintal, “New York’s new Filipino pop-up scene is proof of a model that sees success as a shared effort, rooted in collaboration instead of competition.”

It’s so true because the Bayanihan spirit that our forefathers have passed on to us is inherent in each Pinoy wherever they may be. The culture of helping one another, especially in trying times, such as this Coronavirus pandemic, is what makes the Filipino thrive and champion their hardships at the same time.

In the upcoming Kabisera X So Sarap NYC collaboration, you may again see your favorite Fishball, Isaw, Balut, Ice Candy, and Taho vendors, but do watch out for more exciting and new vendors in store for you. Tune in to @SoSarapNYC and @KabiseraNYC accounts for the latest updates, eksenas, and gimiks.

Imagine a Mangga at Bagoong vendor on the streets of Manhattan? It’s not impossible anymore. As So Sarap NYC describes it, “Mangga (mango) with “bagoong” is a go-to snacks of Filipinos. “Bagoong” is a Pinoy-style shrimp paste that has a distinct funk to it that many Filipinos are drawn to. It can be cooked in many ways and can leave a salty, sweet, tasty and very funky flavor in your palate.” Aren’t you salivating yet?

Hey Jersey, please stay on guard, too, as So Sarap NYC may be invading your neighborhood really soon. For reals.

Photo credits: Craig Nisperos @craignisperos