Second-generation D.C. youth ready to become next-gen leaders

Megan Flaviano

Megan Flaviano

By Maricar CP Hampton

Second-generation FilAms met recently at the first ever-Filipino American Community Fair to explore whether they are ready to take on leadership roles in the community.

The fair, organized by the Filipino Young Professionals-DC (FYP-DC) in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy, brought together more than 65 student leaders from colleges and universities around the Metro D.C. area as well as well as community leaders representing traditional organizations.

“There is a growing number of FilAms taking leadership positions across different industries and government, but we still need more trailblazers, individuals who can inspire, who can lead, who can be an example for the next generation to follow,” RJ Diokno, vice president of FYP-DC told The FilAm Metro D.C.

Melissa Mandac

Melissa Mandac

Melissa Mandac a senior at George Mason University, believes the youth are ready for leadership roles.

“I definitely feel that many are ready, that (they) have that passion to make sure that the Filipino culture does thrive,” she told TFDC. “There’s more people coming out and representing the Philippines. I see a lot of effort to make a presence and share the Filipino culture. I see it especially from the community fair with the amount of people that was there and the fact that they cared.”

Megan Flaviano, a biology of global health major at Georgetown University, said FilAm student organizations are growing stronger and that the other organizations and professionals are “starting to reach out to us.”

Mentorship is key to developing future leaders, she stressed.

“I think a lot of the student leaders right now are one step (closer),” said Flaviano. “They believe in something very important which is promoting Filipino culture.”

Taking their cue from New York’s Pilipino American Unity for Progress or UniPro where young professionals and college students collaborate on community building, Diokno said FYP-DC wanted to show college students what resources they have outside of their schools.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for community organizations to connect with these student leaders,” he continued. “It is an exciting time to be involved and we should expect great things coming out of these organizations in the coming years.”

The students said the event was an “eye opener.” Johnross Famisan, a senior at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County, said he has met with a lot of people who are interested in becoming leaders.

Johnross Famisan

Johnross Famisan

“A lot of them are looking for opportunities, and the student fair is a good start, a catalyst for students to see what they can do,” he said.

Mandac said, “Networking will help me see the possibilities that are out there, because when I graduate I want to continue being a leader in the Filipino community.”

FYP-DC plans to make this gathering an annual event during the month of October, said Diokno. “As the future of the Filipino and Filipino American community, we look to the young leaders who are present here today for inspiration,” said Randy Lizardo, president of the FYP-DC.

Among the organizations represented are ANCOP; Asian American Lead; Asian Pacific American Film; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; Feed the Hungry; Kaya Filipinos for Progress; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; National Federation of Filipino American Associations; Philippine American Foundation for Charities; Philippine Arts Letters & Media Council; and Tanghalang Pilipino.

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