Bridging through the Bayanihan Spirit NaFFAA R3 West Conference and the Philippine Center of Minnesota

Skokie, Illinois: The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) Region 3 West held its biennial regional conference last July 24 to 26, 2015 in Minnesota. The event was hosted by NaFFAA Minnesota under the leadership of Ms. Meg Layese at the Philippine Center of Minnesota in Maplewood.
NaFFAA’s main function is to monitor legislation and public policy issues affecting Filipinos and Filipino Americans, and to work in coalition/collaboration with other national groups around common issues and concerns.
The Midwest consists of two regions: Region 3 West includes Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, while Region 3 East includes Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
The actual conference began on July 25, Saturday with the registration at 8am. Mayor Nora Slawik of the City of Maplewood welcomed everyone, followed by NaFFAA National Chair JT Mallonga and NaFFAA R3 West Chair, Jelly Carandang.
Conference workshops included the following:
Workshop I – Building a Collective Voice – Building a Movement – First part presented by Jelly Carandang, second part presented by P. Emraida Kiram as it relates to NaFFAA’s initiatives, session hosted by Elsa Batica.
Workshop II – Muslim/Christian Conflicts in Mindanao: Peace or Continuation of Warfare? – presenters were Paul Carlson, P. Emraida Kiram, and Paul Bloom, with Dr. Jo Fernandez as session host.
Workshop III – Value of Medical Missions: Band Aid or Sustainable? – presented by Dr. Bernard Quebral, Naomi Quillopa and Cindy Flores, hosted by Addi Batica.
Workshop IV – Response to Disasters in the Philippines: Experience and Lessons – presenters consist of Paul Bloom, Jose Rivera and Alex Erolin, with Paul Bloom as host.
Workshop V – Voices of Our Youth: Cultivating the Next Leadership – presenters include Joelle Fernandez, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, and Abbey Eusebio, with Pastor Robert Atienza as host.
During lunch, Karin Aguilar-San Juan did a short video presentation of “Rice-A Love Affair”. This educational portion of the conference ended with a presentation on 10,000 Kwentos – the Philippine Collection at the Field Museum in Chicago, by Almira Astudillo Gilles, which generated a lot of interest to see the over 10,000 Philippine Artifacts stored at the museum warehouse.
The Gala Night followed at 7pm, with inspirational guest speaker, Philippine Consul Ricarte Abejuela III from Chicago, and Keynote Speaker, NaFFAA National Chair, Atty. JT Mallonga from New Jersey. As hosts of the regional conference, NaFFAA R3 West Chair, Jelly Carandang and NaFFAA Minnesota Chair, Meg Layese presented awards of appreciation/recognition to the following: Guest speakers, JT Mallonga and Philippine Consul Ricarte Abejuela III, each of the R3 West Member State Chairs: Cindy Flores (Illinois), Meg Layese (Minnesota), Anecita Alvizo (Missouri), Daryl Rose (Nebraska) and P. Emraida Kiram for Angeli Camara (Wisconsin), and Ruby Horner, for hosting the last regional conference in Greenville, Ohio. They were recognized for their commitment and dedication to the region and to NaFFAA National, as a whole. Workshop participants and other contributors will likewise be recognized for their contributions to the success of the conference, as soon as information requested become available.
After the gala program, election of the 5 member states, which was scheduled for the following day was held, to give those leaving early the opportunity to vote. Elected were Abbey Eusebio for Illinois and Angeli Camara for Wisconsin (elected before the conference); re-elected were Meg Layese for Minnesota, Anecita Alvizo for Missouri, and Daryl Rose for Nebraska. Jelly Carandang was unanimously re-elected as Region 3 West Chair by the member state chairs of the region, with Anecita Alvizo elected as region vice chair. It should be noted that due to term limits set by the amended constitution and by-laws, this will be the last term for the re-elected officers. Other regional positions will be filled by appointments and will be announced later.
Sunday, July 26, 2015 marked the end of the conference. The session started with an ecumenical service led by Dr. Jo Fernandez. Ruby Horner did a presentation on: The Health Care Reform – Your Rights and Privileges as a Consumer. Rose Tibayan presented: GEN2 in Peril: The Educational Downward Mobility of Second Generation Filipino American.
The Regional Conference closed with a reminder from the Chair to mark the particpants’ calendars for the National Empowerment Conference on August 4-7, 2016, hosted by NaFFAA Region 1, at the Valley Forge Casino Resorts in King of Prussia, PA. She announced further that NaFFAA Missouri, under the leadership of her regional vice chair, Anecita Sancho Alvizo, will host the next regional conference in 2017.
The photos shown are courtesy of various officers and members, among them: Addi & Elsa Batica, Meg Layese, Ruby Horner, Abbey Eusebio and Anecita Alvizo

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