State of NaFFAA Address 2022

Transcript of the Speech delivered by Brendan Flores at the NaFFAA 14th National Empowerment Conference | August 4, 2022 | Las Vegas, Nevada

I am so elated to stand in front of all of you today and discuss where we are as a community. As a growing, united, and EMPOWERED Filipino American community. Look around: that means YOU! 

On behalf of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), we welcome you all to our 14th National Empowerment Conference!!! 

We all arrive here today as a thriving community of Filipino Americans, united in our goal of empowerment yet as richly diverse as this patchwork nation we call HOME. 

To make this more fun, we chose Las Vegas as our venue, which is actually my hometown. 

After three years of not holding any conferences, it feels good to be here and meet with everyone. However, the anticipation just makes this conference even more special. I would like to personally extend my “pasasalamat” to our Host Chairs: 

  • Gloria Caoile 
  • Leo Belmonte 
  • Jacqueline De Joya 
  • Charmel de la Cruz 
  • Lillian Vergin 
  • Sally Balecha 
  • Cynthia Deriquito 
  • Resty Lopez 

Thank you for working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this conference possible. Job well done! 

Thank you for leading this while ensuring that each region is well taken care of. Despite a pandemic that shut down the whole world, I would love to extend my gratitude to each of our

regional chairs, who continued being a beacon of light to our “kababayans” for the past six years. 

Whether it’s the Midwestern Region’s “Circle of Empowered Women” event and how Tita Evelyn Natividad and her team educated our women members on topics such as resources for gender-based violence, home health care, and entrepreneurship. 


…or the Southwest Region under the leadership of Anthony Guevarra, assisting a large number of stranded J1 workers in Houston and Dallas who lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

…we applaud how the Desert Mountain Region under Kuya Leo’s leadership is literally moving mountains to climb for Filipinos, particularly in the state of Utah on how Lilian Vergin collaborated with the Philippine Embassy to provide services to more than 2000 Filipinos helping them renew their passports, apply for dual citizenship, and register to vote during the recent Philippine election.… 

… or Chris and his northeastern region leading our Hate Crime Task Force, responding to hate crime reports, assisting hate crime victims, building a coalition with other action groups, or organizing prayer rallies during the rise of the Anti-Asian hate crime. A cause that a lot of our regions like San Diego/Imperial, Northern California, and Pacific Northwest are also very much involved with. … 


We are really proud of how our regions pressed forward and were involved in resolving critical issues. Doy Heredia, NaFFAA New England Region chair, as she led her group to the USS Telesforo Trinidad ship commissioning campaign. 



Have you heard about the Rocky Mountain Region and how they held an event registering over 500 new citizens in citizenship and immigration services swearing ceremonies? Thank you, Rocky Mountain Team! 



Each effort contributes to making NaFFAA better every day. We appreciate the Southern Region’s APIA Recognition of Community leaders in Central Florida and the prayer vigils our Southern team conducted on behalf of our departed “kababayans.” Thank you, Melviona and Team! 



We thank our Greater Los Angeles Region. Thank you for holding events to recognize our Fil-Am elected officials and providing economic workshops in partnership with the state to further empower our Fil-Ams in your region. 



NaFFAA capital, under the leadership of Ryan Namata, and how he led the rebuilding of their region while dealing with different policy-related issues. Thank you for representing us well in the nation’s capital! We appreciate how many of our regions, like the Pacific Islands, remained resilient in rebuilding their regions. 



Thank you to each of our regional chairs. Maraming Salamat for all your sacrifices and for making NaFFAA the organization we are today! 


But we know we cannot move forward without recognizing the past leaders who built the foundation for us to be the organization we are today. Twenty-five years ago, Alex Esclamado, Rodel Rodis, Michael Dadap, and Loida Lewis sat down together to discuss the need for a national organization for Filipinos. Despite many unknowns about the future, they took a great leap of faith. They worked hard to establish what is now called the National Federation of Filipino American Associations. 


Now, let me report on the state of NaFFAA today by discussing what we achieved in our three founding pillars: 

Leadership Development 

Let me start with our leadership development pillar. I would love to talk to you about our E3 program. We envisioned that through this program, we would be able to reach members of our community by providing resources and tools: whether that is tools for small business owners, for those looking to get into the creative industry, and for those who are seeing the greater link between mental health and work/life balance. 

We believe in the importance of engaging and empowering young Filipino Americans to build the next generation of leaders and to build the capacity of Filipino American organizations to better serve their communities. In the last few years, we have grown and strengthened our signature leadership development program, Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration or EPYC. 

The EPYC program has grown from being a pre-conference event at the 11th NaFFAA National Empowerment Conference in San Diego into a national program. We thank Comcast for sponsoring this program and helping us reach greater heights as the program has trained and developed a knowledgeable and motivated cadre of emerging community leaders and Ambassadors.

Some of our EPYC Ambassadors have joined us this week. These dynamic young leaders are the future of Filipino American advocacy, and are being primed to step in and grab the torch. Thank you for giving us confidence that NaFFAA’s future is in good hands. Thank you, Daniela, for leading this! We appreciate and believe in each of you! 

National Advocacy 

When many organizations struggled to function and advocate during the pandemic, we were louder than ever advocating for our kababayans. 

We take pride in our ability to be a voice for the over 4 million Filipinos in America. With our organization headquartered in our Nation’s Capital, we are well-positioned to collaborate with other national organizations, lobby elected national leaders, and gather our members and constituents in the hallowed halls of American power. 

From the very creation of NaFFAA, one of our signature issues was the rights of Filipino World War II veterans. We have been proud to partner with FilVetREP to secure rights and recognition for them. We were thrilled that in 2017, a bipartisan group of legislators voted to award these proud warriors the Congressional Gold Medal for their service. 

During the height of the pandemic, we realized the enormous need to create cohesiveness in humanitarian relief efforts. Through our new “FilAm Alerts” program, NaFFAA will display trusted and verified relief organizations on ONE PLATFORM. We have identified a national committee that will be focused on promoting our platform. Thank you to Katrina and her team for leading this. 

Another great achievement in our national advocacy pillar is through our “Hate Crimes Task Force,” where our regions share best practices amongst each other to develop tools and a support system to help everyone to feel empowered to speak up. Thank you, Cris and to your task force for making this possible and making sure our “titos”, “titas”, “lolos” and “lolas” are safe and protected. 

For many years, I owe much of my growth to the loving “titas” and “nanays” who mentored me and took me under their wings to help me become the National Chairman I am today. 

Civic Engagement 

Under our civic engagement pillar, we made sure that our Fil-Ams have seats on the most important tables. 

Through our Run for Office program, we empowered Filipino Americans who seek to run for public office. We provided them with trainings and connected them with other Fil-Am elected officials.

Our Fil-Am Vote program is also something to be proud of. It helped us unite, build, and increase political empowerment through voter registration, voter education, voter protection, and Get Out The Vote (GOTV). Because our vote matters! 


For the next three days, we encourage each of you to participate in different workshops relating to these three pillars. 

We invite you to build upon our strong foundations so that you may continue to grow and expand to be able to serve more Filipino Americans and to be able to have a more UNITED voice. 

Listen to the workshops, be inquisitive, ask questions, and discern how you can apply what you’ve learned today to your individual regions. 

Our decisions and actions for today will shape the next 25 years of our NaFFAA family. Let’s continue to write history today and for the next three days! Maraming Salamat po! 


Since 1997, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) has been the standard-bearer for promoting the welfare and well-being of the four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the United States. NaFFAA is the largest 

non-partisan, non-profit organization and national affiliation of Filipino American institutions, umbrella organizations, and individuals. Its fourteen-member regions cover the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands.