Fil-Am directory and the clubs that bind

The women behind the Fil-Am Community Directory: Consulate Cultural Officer Olive Osias-Magpile (left) and Grace Labaguis, founder of Synergy Production and Marketing, Inc.

By Cristina DC Pastor

There are five organizations for doctors, two associations each for teachers and nurses, and one for lawyers. Priests have their own club as do alumni of various Philippine universities, sports enthusiasts, and those who consider themselves native to certain provinces.

You will find all them in the 2019 Filipino-American Community Directory (FACD), a modest database of 162 community organizations that comprise the dynamic community of 350,000 FilAms spread across the U.S. Northeast. It’s a listing that has expanded from just 50 organizations  four years ago when the directory broke ground.

The directory does not tell you the exact number – the estimate is anywhere from 200 to 300 — of Filipino clubs there are in the Northeast, but it gives a snapshot of who they are and what makes Filipinos stick together when they are abroad.  They want to preserve their links with their professional clubs (eg. International Society of Filipinos in  Finance and Accounting, Filipino-American Association of  Engineers), their colleges (eg. De La Salle Alumni Association, AIM Alumni Association-East Coast), churches (eg. ANCOP Foundation USA, Inc., Filipino Association of St. Michael’s Parish), and the provinces (eg. Ivatan East Coast Association, Associations of Bukidnons in America, Inc.) they came from. By forming these organizations, they profess their roots and their gratitude.

Many of the organizations are not-for-profit and non-political in their orientation, but the directory also welcomes those that are openly partisan, as in Digong Duterte Supporters with chapters in New York and New Jersey.

Keeping the community connected and organizations visible.

“Filipinos are traditionally clannish,” noted Fernando Mendez, CEO of Fiesta in America trade and cultural expo.  “Their loyalties often stop at the boundary of their province or region.” Fiesta is one of the organizations that has provided support for the publication of the FACD.

But once they come to America, he said, they can be unified by building a strong, common bridge that spans their differences in sectarian, political and socio-economic interests. “That bridge is the Fil-Am Community Directory.”

“We are pleased to support the 2019 edition of the Filipino-American Community Directory,” said Joseph Jerome Francia,  vice president and Head of Operations of GMA International. “It is our humble contribution to further enriching the engagement of the FilAm community on the East Coast with key organizations and institutions.”

Consul General Claro Cristobal stressed the importance of the directory as a “valuable resource” for FilAms to get connected with one another.

“The Directory serves as a tool for community leaders and members, civic volunteers, and organizations to build a database to develop linkages, synergy and collaboration,” he said in his keynote remarks.

He pointed out how the directory was just a notion being kicked around years ago.  Finally, it became reality during the 2nd General Assembly in 2016, and started with only 50 organizations that registered with the Cultural and Community Relations Section of the Philippine Consulate. He urged all FilAm organizations to fill out the Organizational Profile Form and update their information on record with the consulate. He promised that those on the list will be given priority for information, announcements, invitations and consulate support for their events.

The directory was launched through the effort of two women: Consulate Cultural Officer Olive Osias-Magpile and marketing executive Grace Labaguis, who is also the founder of Synergy Production and Marketing, Inc.

“After four years since it was first published, the directory is now considered an important guidebook for the Filipino American community in the northeast,” said Labaguis, at the FACD launch on  July 31 at the Philippine Center. “We survived three editions and will survive 100 more!”

Philippine Airlines, another sponsor, highlighted the importance of having a sort of ‘yellow pages’ in the community. Said New York area manager Josh Vasquez, “This makes each organization improve their local visibility so that they get discovered easily.”

© The FilAm 2019

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: