NaFFAA Newsletter 2.0
National Chairman’s Corner
It’s only been one year, but I am still in awe at the honor of being selected as the youngest-ever National Chairman of NaFFAA, an organization I hold very dear. Service to the greater good has always been a passion of mine. But to be able to focus this service on my cherished Filipino American community makes it all the better. I am proud to say that every day I have humbly served in this role has been a day of personal and professional growth for me, and for NaFFAA. We—a united community of talented and dedicated Filipino American leaders—have grown together. We have accomplished this growth by bridging generational and cultural gaps. I recall a quote I referenced when I was first elected, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”
I came into this role with just that goal in mind: growth. As much as it was an honor to be chosen as your leader, there was no time to waste in pursuing the good work NaFFAA could do for Filipinos across this nation and abroad. With that in mind, I hit the ground running. I reached out to my mentors, and slowly began to flesh out how NaFFAA 2.0 would look, what good it could do, and who would best help steer this ship. I painstakingly built my team, and am happy to say that the future of NaFFAA is in the hands of capable and passionate leaders and advocates.
The next phase of “NaFFAA 2.0” was to take it to the streets—listening to the needs, concerns, and hopes of thousands of Filipino Americans throughout the country. To say I learned a lot from these listening sessions is an understatement. I heard of the sky-high hopes of first-generation parents for their second-generation children, the anxieties of newly immigrated Filipinos as they learn to assimilate into American culture, and the gratitude and patriotism of Filipino American vets. These countless conversations, the thousands of miles traveled, the energy spent on pounding the pavement—hearing these voices made the effort worthwhile.
Side by side with NaFFAA’s youngest-ever National Operations Officer, Kelly Ilagan, we visited Ohio, California, Washington, DC, New York, and cities in between. But it was in Chicago where my Executive Board and I coalesced around our vision for NaFFAA. It is here where NaFFAA 2.0, along with the National Chairman’s Councils, was born. I began to lean more and more on my officers, which gave them confidence and resolve. This teamwork was necessary, as we sought to be a voice for all Filipino Americans.
In the midst of my travels, we held our Board of Governors Summit in Houston. It was here that our complete team first had the opportunity to meet face to face. It was a checkpoint for all, so we could gauge each other’s progress, and to determine how we all fit into the puzzle. It was one of the proudest moments as your National Chair, because the displays of pride and commitment to public service showed that our network of leaders was ready to represent you.
Since then, our talented Executive Director, Jason Tengco, has taken the reins of our initiatives, and is using his invaluable professional experience to shape how NaFFAA can better serve all Filipinos. One valuable tool in achieving this is to empower our local and emerging Filipino leaders. Our “Federation Forum” was a collaboration of some of the most influential national FilAm organizations. This forum provided a space for our leaders to collaborate with others, share best practices, and develop future initiatives. This impressive group also had the opportunity to meet and converse with Filipino Americans leaders working on Capitol Hill and in the Administration. We hope to turn the Federation Forum into an annual tradition of leadership building and knowledge-sharing.
NaFFAA also recently launched its inaugural Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) Ambassadors Program, which aims to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans. In its early stages, the EPYC Ambassadors program will provide young individuals the skills to engage the civic world, all the while receiving mentorship from regional leaders. EPYC represents an investment in our future leaders, and a commitment to NaFFAA’s impact on the FilAm community for generations to come.
One of my visions when I became National Chairman was to infuse NaFFAA with the experience and vision of a diverse cross-section of Filipino American voices. I am proud to say we did just that. NaFFAA’s Board of Governors and National Chairman’s Councils span professional fields, represent every generation, and come from every corner of this great nation. And we did not want to stop there. Within our Diverse Segments Council, students, young professionals, women, and LGBTQ members of our community are provided with resources to implement diverse and inclusive ideas and initiatives.
I am immensely proud to say that one of our signature programs, FilAm Vote, played a key role in driving voter turnout during this past national election, and will continue to provide essential resources for voters throughout the country, during every election season.
What a year it has been, am I right?! Well, we aren’t done yet! As you know, come October, we will be seeing the culmination of this year of tremendous progress: our 20th Anniversary Gala in Washington, DC! Coinciding with Filipino American History Month, this gala will celebrate the hard work, dedication, and most importantly, the progress of 20 years of work on behalf of Filipino Americans. We will have an opportunity to recognize our most inspiring and impactful leaders, pay tribute to our founding members, and share our vision for the future of our community.
We hope you will join us for this important Gala on October 21, 2017 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where NaFFAA first formalized as an organization. You will hear our vision for “NaFFAA 2.0: One Voice, Four Million Strong,” honor our 20 year legacy, and lay the groundwork for our shared future.
Together, let’s make history, and continue to write our story!
NaFFAA Introduces its Inaugural Class of EPYC Ambassadors
Washington, DC – Today, NaFFAA welcomes its inaugural class of twelve ambassadors to the Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) Program. The EPYC Ambassadors Program aims to equip young leaders to refine their skills and learn new strategies in order to become stronger advocates and deliver more effective programs and services. Ambassadors will support NaFFAA’s efforts around leadership development, civic engagement, and advocacy, and help scale and build programs within their campuses and communities. Ambassadors will also gain important knowledge and skills around professional development, networking, Filipino American history, racial justice, multicultural competency, coalition building, and other key areas. Each ambassador will reach out to fellow Filipino American youth through social media and also engage them in person by speaking at events, facilitating workshops, or tabling on campus or during community events. They will also lead a capstone project focused on either leadership development, civic engagement, or advocacy.
NaFFAA National Chairman Brendan Flores said, “NaFFAA congratulates its inaugural class of EPYC Ambassadors: twelve young individuals committed to engaging and empowering Filipino American youth throughout the country. EPYC is a testament to our shared goal of developing the leadership pipeline for young Filipino American leaders. I look forward to seeing what the EPYC Ambassadors will accomplish on behalf of NaFFAA and for the Filipino American community as a whole.”
Below are the biographies for the inaugural 2017-2018 class:
- Leilani Encarnacion, NaFFAA Region 1, Temple University (2020), Major: Kinesiology, from Bensalem, PA
- Sariah Loy, NaFFAA Region 1, Temple University (2020), Major: International Business, from Philadelphia, PA
- Joseph Malasa, NaFFAA Region 2, University of Virginia (2019), Major: Psychology, American Studies, from Charlottesville, VA
- Nina Cedro, NaFFAA Region 3E, Wayne State University (2018), Major: Marketing, Information Systems Management MBA
- Christian Pandena, NaFFAA Region 3E, University of Michigan (2019), Major: Community and Global Health, from Ann Arbor, MI
- Carlo Tuason, NaFFAA Region 3E, University of Cincinnati (2018), Major: International Affairs, Music Performance, from Cincinnati, OH
- Marijo Manaois, NaFFAA Region 7, University of Washington (2018), Major: Medical Anthropology, Global Health, from Tacoma, WA
- Eric Yanzon, NaFFAA Region 7, Western Washington (2018), Major: Sociology, American Cultural Studies, from Bellingham, WA
- Miguel Louis Guerrero, NaFFAA Region 8, UC Davis (2016), Major: Economics, Political Science, from Daly City, CA
- Kevin Suarez, NaFFAA Region 8, San Jose State University (2019), Major: Economics, from San Jose, CA
- Raphael Noah Natividad, NaFFAA Region 9, UC Irvine (2017), Major: Public Health Policy, Educations Sciences, from Irvine, CA
- Justin Suarez, NaFFAA Region 9, UCLA, Major: Undeclared Social Science, from Santa Maria, CA
Coming soon, we will feature our major contributors to our 20th Anniversary celebrations!
Northeast Region, Aida Rivera, Chair
Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware
NaFFAA at the FIESTA IN AMERICA
Secaucus, NJ – Fiesta in America, now on its 19th year, brings together Philippine and Philippine-American businesses for a 2-day Expo, August 12 and 13, to promote increased economic engagement between the Philippines and the US. The Fiesta in America is the largest of its kind in the US Northeast and as an added attraction also includes a cultural program showcasing top Filipino and Filipino-American talents. This year’s entertainment theme was Philippine pop music from the 1970s featuring performances by Rey Valera, Novan Belleza, Jessica Sanchez, Music and Magic, and VST and Company.
For 2 days the NaFFAA Region 1 team was there eager to answer questions about our organization. It was an opportunity to promote our upcoming events, programs and initiatives to attendees who stopped by our booth both to those who are familiar and not so familiar about NaFFAA.
22-23 July 2017, Consular Outreach, Rhode Island
Newport, RI – The Philippines Consulate General in New York’s consular outreach team was in Rhode Island on the weekend of 22-23 July 2017 in order to serve the Filipino community members in the area. The event was coordinated by Armando “Doy” Heredia, NaFFAA Rhode Island State Chair and President of the Newport Council for International Visitors. Co-hosting the outreach were Fil-Am Newport County, led by its President, Mariagina “Ning” Gotauco; the FilAm Community of South Coast Massachusetts, led by its President, Delicia “Dee” St. Denis; and Lingkod Timog medical missions, led by its President Cecilia “Cely” Heredia. The outreach was led by Consul Khystina Corpuz and held in the Elks Lodge of historic Newport. It was well attended, with Filipino-Americans as far away as New Hampshire and Maine, especially by those who find it difficult to travel to New York City to transact consular business.
24 August 2017, Rhode Island visit by Consul General de Vega
Philippines New York Consul General Ma. Theresa Dizon-de Vega visited Newport City, Rhode Island to meet with the Filipino community and to call on Newport Mayor Henry “Harry” Winthrop on Thursday, August 24, 2017. The event was coordinated by Armando “Doy” Heredia, NaFFAA Rhode Island State Chair and President of the Newport Council for International Visitors. The Consul General thanked Mayor Winthrop for the City’s hospitality in hosting the July 22-23 Consular Outreach, and among others, brought out the possibility of a sister city arrangement with a Philippines city and Newport. Community leaders accompanied the Consul General in the visit and joined the working lunch hosted by the Consul General to get acquainted with the area Filipinos and its achievements and concerns. The Consul General was accompanied by Consul Arman Talbo. Joining the Consul General were Delicia “Dee” St Denis, President of the FilAm Community of South Coast Massachusetts; Bob Wheeler and Chet Gotauco, Board Members of Fil-Am Newport County; and Doy Heredia and businesswoman Reina Quintero-Niguidula of Lingkod Timog.
Midwest Region East, Armin Sayson, Chair
Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio
Detroit, MI – Willie D. Dechavez in barong tagalog, is shown on stage with Governor Rick Snyder ( 6th person from left ) and other awardees during the Governor’s Service Awards night last August 21, 2017 at the Detroit Opera House. Willie D. Dechavez, NaFFAA Region 3E Vice Chairperson and Region 3E Culture and Diversity Chairperson was the recipient of Michigan Governor Senior Service Award. Awarding was held at the historic Detroit Opera House. It was attended by approximately 1,300 guests.
Willie of Sterling Heights, Michigan is dedicated to preserving the Filipino heritage and traditions, as well as supporting the arts and culture. He has served to provide grassroots mobilization, civic engagement, leadership development and coalition building to involve members in the community and generate understanding.
He emigrated from the Philippines in 1982 and has served on the Michigan Asian Pacific American affairs Commissionfor 8 years. He served as the State Chairperson of NaFFAA in Michigan for 11 years and he is the Vice Chairperson of the city of Sterling Heights Community Committee. Recently, he was appointed a member of the board of directors in the Race Relations Task Force in the city of Birmingham, Michigan. He is the current State Chairperson of the United States Pinoys for Good Governance. ” Through his efforts in multicultural education, Willie has improved the climate of communications in Michigan,” said Maria Middleton, a fellow volunteer. ” He has an inherent spirit to volunteer and serve humanity.” Tory Rocca, State Senator of the 10th District in Michigan presented Willie with a Special Tribute related to his award.
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