NaFFAA WANTS BEST PRACTICES ADOPTED IN THEIR HOMELAND!
By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (JGL) — The millennials (also known as Generation Y) were still wet behind their ears when the National Federation of Filipino American
Associations (NaFFAA) was conceived 20 years ago in this nation’s capital.
But they proved to be quick study to their manongs (uncles), manangs (aunties), kuyas (elder brothers) and ates (elder sisters) made up mostly of first generation Filipinos who organized NaFFAA to empower Filipino Americans of their God-given rights and to impart on their kababayans (country mates) back in their homeland of the best practices in nation building.
On the Gala night on Oct. 21st when they celebrated the 20th anniversary at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in this city where it all began, NaFFAA’s first LGBT yet dynamic Executive Director Jason Benjamin Alinea Tengco a.k.a. Jason Tengco had already raised more than $20,000 even before he started the ball rolling for another $20,000 “to help NaFFAA cultivate the next generation of leaders” before a captive crowd of nearly 300.
ILLINOIS & REGION 3 WEST DELEGATION:
DENNIS MONDERO (standing, left), Development Co-Director of NaFFAA’s National Chairman’s Councils and a Champion Donor, stands behind some members of NaFFAA Illinois & Region 3 West Officers and member delegation led by Angeles “Jelly” Ramos Carandang (standing, right), National Special Project Director, and seated from left, Ely & Evelyn Natividad, Ella L. Basilio and Princess Emraida Kiram, NaFFAA National Vice Chair and a Champion Donor, at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st of the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
Although the low-key fund-raising was a far cry from the ambitious one in 2004 at the 6th NaFFAA Empowerment National NaFFAA convention in Chicago, Illinois that saw its late NaFFAA founder Alex Esclamado desperately matching the $100,000 donation pledged by Dylan Wilk, a wealthy British volunteer now married to the daughter of Gawad-Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, at least if one has to go over the Gala night’s souvenir program and the Gala dinner ticket sales, NaFFAA’s fundraising at the 20th anniversary had more donation at hand than the more than $300,000 donations pledged in 2004.
JGL NEWS CLIP OF 2004 NaFFAA CONVENTION IN CHICAGO
It listed two Gold donors at $10K a pop; three Silver donors at $5K each; two Bronze donors at $2,500 each; 19 Champion donors at $1K each and eight supporters at $500 each, which totaled $63K. These exclude the souvenir program’s display advertisements, the convention dues and Gala dinner ticket sales.
GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE, CHAMPIONS & SUPPORTERS
The Gold donors were TFC, The Filipino Channel and Wells Fargo; the Silver donors were AARP Real Possibilities, Comcast NBC Universal and Verizon; the Bronze donors were Philippine American Foundation and Western Union, Moving Money for Better; while the Champion donors were American Petroleum Institute, Coca Cola, Compassion and Choices, Family Humble: Rebecca Apostol and Norlyn Asprec, Rhommel Canare, Gregory Cendana, Krystle Cobian and Alma Riego; Aurora Austriaco, Sead Besic, Marie Cunning, Billy Dec, Mariela Fletcher, Brendan Flores, Honorary Consul Henry B. Howard, Romeo and Nadia Jurani, Princess Emraida Kiram, Gus Mercado & Honorary Consul Ethel Reyes-Mercado, Roger Manalo, Dennis Mondero, Drs. Rommel and Aida Rivera and Giselle Rushford.
Supporters were Ayala Land International, Rita M. Cacas Foundation, Rosie Abriam, Irene Bueno, Nani Coloretti, Sonia Delen Chris Rivera and Mona Lisa Yuchengco.
NaFFAA DEVELOPMENT CO-DIRECTOR:
There were some donors during the Gala Night documented by my video cam who made pledges, including second NaFFAA national chair Loida Nicolas Lewis, Gus Mercado and his wife, Honorary Consul Ethel Reyes-Mercado and Jason Tenneco’s Mom, Ms. Bel Alinea Tengco. But as of press time, Mr. Tengco has not provided me the complete list of the Gala Night donors. Please see the companion videoclip below.
In contrast to the 2004 fund-raiser that earned a pledge of $312,000, the Gala night’s should have collected a modest $83K if the $20K pledged during the night were encashed.
2004 FUNDRAISER IN CHICAGO RECALLED
In the 2004 fundraiser, nobody could really tell if the $200,000 pledges by both Messrs. Esclamado and Wilk were ever delivered. I contacted Mr. Wilk about his $100,000 donation but I never got a response.
WITH FIL AM OHIO MAYOR:
FILIPINO AMERICAN Mayor Ron Falconi (second from right, seated) of Brunswick, Ohio is among those who attended the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Also in photo is Armin M. Sayson (second from right, standing), chair of 2017-2020 NaFFAA Region 3 East and their guests, and at far left, NaFFAA Executive Director Jason Tengco and NaFFAA Board of Governors Bing Branigin, 20th Anniversary Gala Co-Chairs. Mr. Falconi was not actively campaigning in the Nov. 7 elections as he was running for re-election for mayor unopposed. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
Jason Tengco as well as NaFFAA’s current 7th NaFFAA national chair Brendan Flores are two of the most visible millennials, who are taking over the helm from the Old Guards, notably Attorneys Loida Nicolas Lewis, Rodel Rodis and 6th NaFFAA national chair J.T. (Jose Teodoro) Mallonga, who are now just too happy to stay in the background, after spending the best days of their lives educating and engaging the Filipino American community to get involved in their civic duties during the last 20 years.
Although, his name was not even mentioned in the program, when Mr. Rodis was asked to give a piece of his mind after receiving one of the Visionary Awards as a NaFFAA co-Founder along with Ms. Lewis, he took advantage of the opportunity and summed up the accomplishments of NaFAA: “We have achieved so much in 20 years and I would like to thank Jason (Tengco) and Brendan (Flores) and the young Filams who are active enough for continuing what we started 20 years ago. We have taken you here but you will take us there. So, Mabuhay tayong lahat! (Long live to all of us)!
SUNDAY, AUGUST 24, 1997, NaFFAA’s BIRTHDAY
Mr. Rodis recalled that it was a Sunday, August (24,) 1997 on the final plenary session when NaFFAA unanimously agreed to two principles that could guide NaFFAA: 1) Empowerment of Filipino Americans in the U.S.; and 2) to work on economic and political progress of their Philippine homeland.
MILLENNIAL ERA PRESENTATION:
INCUMBENT NATIONAL NaFFAA Chair Brendan Flores (extreme right), a Champion Donor, and national NaFFAA Vice Chair Princess Emraida Kiram (extreme left) bookend the proud awardess of Brendan Flores Millenial Leadership Circle Awards to empower Pilipino Youth through Collaboration at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
“Towards the first goal, the first thing NaFFAA did was to lobby for passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity bill. So, all our chapters all over the country have organized and got their Congresspersons and senators to co-sponsor this bill. And the result of those efforts was in February 2009 when President Obama signed the bill that appropriated $300-M to our veterans to compensate for their sacrifices during World War II.”
Rodis added, ”We also worked for the election of various candidates who ran for public office in U.S. I was the first Filipino elected to public office in San Francisco (California), serving as president of the San Francisco Community College Board in California. We have Filipinos as mayors, members of college boards, school boards and city councilors. In the Bay area, we have eight Fil Am mayors, and we have a member of the California Assembly, Rob Bonta.
“That is a direct result of NaFFAA flexing its muscle to empower the community. And we will continue to do that to get Gina Cortez of Houston, Texas (elected).
“WE WANT BEST PRACTICES FOR THE PHILIPPINES”
“We also worked for the Philippines because we want to ensure that the best practices that we overseas Filipinos have politically be imparted to the Philippines. So, we have to get Filipinos (overseas) to have the right to vote in Philippine elections.
NaFFAA 2ND NATIONAL Chair Loida Nicolas Lewis (second from left) leads the honorees awarded the Visionary Awards for NaFFAA Founders and National Chairs at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Also in photo from left are current and 7th NaFFAA National Chair Brendan Flores, who handed the awards, NaFFAA National Executive Board of Trustee Rodel Rodis, Dr. Aida Navidad Rivera, NaFFAA Region 1 Chair, and 6th NaFFAA National Chair Jose Teodoro “JT” Mallonga. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
“We worked for the passage of the Overseas Absentee Voting Act and the Philippine Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Law of 2003 (RA 9225).
“In 2003, so many of us, including Loida (N. Lewis), Alex (Esclamado), Greg (Macabenta), Eric (Lachica) went to the Philippines, lobbied Philippine Congress to pass the (Overseas Absentee) Voting Act and in August, 2003, they passed it and signed into law, the Overseas Absentee Voting Act and the Dual Citizenship Law.
“Those are the products of NaFFAA’s lobbying and achievements of NaFFAA. After the passage of the Absentee Voters’ Act, the Comelec refused to allow dual citizens the right to vote in the (Philippine) elections. So, Loida together with Alex and Greg and Eric filed a certiorari to the Philippine Supreme Court to reverse the Comelec decision and allow dual citizens to vote in the Philippine elections.
“In 2005, the Philippine Supreme Court in a unanimous decision, in the case of Loida Lewis v. Comelec, granted dual citizen Filipinos the right to vote in Philippine elections. Thank you, Loida.”
NaFFAA 2ND NationalChair Loida Nicolas Lewis (fourth from left) joins the photo session with from left Angie Cruz, Atty. Rodel Rodis, Joseph G. Lariosa, Jerry Clarito, Marlon L. Pecson and Dr. Amy del Mundo of Independence, Indiana at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (JGL Photo)
NAFFAA GOES GLOBAL
Rodis also said, “NaFFAA also started the global Philippine networking campaign.
“In 2002, we have 2,000 to 4,000 delegates in Moscone Center in San Francisco from all over the Philippines, organizing, networking of Filipino communities throughout and we created that every two years in Cebu, in Manila, Hawaii, in Sydney (Australia), for networking.
“My friends, two years ago, I attended a conference in Malta for European networking with Filipinos in the diaspora, representing 31 organizations/companies in Europe. And they followed NaFFAA and were asking me how did NaFFAA organize the national council, the elections? How do we set up because they were following the example of NaFFAA, my friends.
“My friends, NaFFAA is casting a shadow not only in U.S. but also in Europe and all over the world. We have much to be grateful for. We have achieved so much in 20 years and I would like to thank Jason, Brendan and young Filams who are active enough for continuing what we started 20 years. We have taken you here but you will take us there. So, Mabuhay tayong lahat. Thank you.”
PHILIPPINE EMBASSY Economic Minister Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga (fourth from left) was one of the guests at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. Others in photo from left are Allen Tang, friend of Jason Tengco, Bel Alinea Tengco, mother of Jason Tengco, Eric Lachica, Gus Mercado and his wife, Honorary Consul Ethel Reyes-Mercado, Champion Donors, and Angie Cruz. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
For his part, Jason, born and raised in California, learned to associate with Filipinos only after attending “Samahang Pilipino” (Filipino group) at UCLA, where he learned Filipino history and culture as he was disappointed that he was not taught by his parents to speak Filipino.
“DANCING FOR THE STARS:”
THE HOST NaFFAA’s 2 Capital Region welcomed their visitors with a dancing jig that gives professional Dancing With The Stars performers a run for their money that shows from right Dr. Aida Navidad Rivera, NaFFAA Region 1 Chair, Jun Melegrito, NaFFAA’s Communications Director, NaFFAA Board of Governors Bing Branigin and NaFFAA Executive Director Jason Tengco swaying to the beat towards the concluding portion of the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (JGL Photo by JOSEPH G. LARIOSA)
Because he was proud of his identity, he studied Tagalog for two years and even read at the Gala about a popular Filipino expression: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.” (He who does not look back from where he came from will never get to his destination).”
Brendan Flores, 31, recalled he was a banker at Wells Fargo many years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada when he was approached by “Mr. Alex Esclamado, who was asking about banking fees,” and he said, “I think you should join the NaFFAA organization. I don’t know what it was. But it was an opportunity to understand what Filipino American organization was all about.
IT WAS A REUNION OF sorts for former Chicago, Illinois-based broadcast journalist Don Tagala (second from right), now based in New York City of Balitang America of The Filipino Channel, with Chicago-based visitors at the Washington, D.C. area with Joseph G. Lariosa (to Don’s right), Marlon L. Pecson (extreme right), and Jerry Clarito (second from left) and host Eric Lachica of Arlington, Virginia at the Gala Night on Oct. 21st at the 20th NaFFAA anniversary celebration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. (JGL Photo)
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