NYC-based UniPro expands to the West Coast

Small group discussions sought to answer questions like ‘What does community mean to you’?

Small group discussions sought to answer questions like ‘What does community mean to you’?

More than 50 youth leaders gathered February 6 at the United Domestic Workers of America (UDW) Community Hall for the official launch of the NYC-based Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) chapter in San Diego.

The event, co-sponsored by UDW, National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), and Silayan Filipina, opened with a keynote speech from the Consul General Audie de Castro.

De Castro urged the students and young professionals to strive for unity and to promote the Pilipino American in San Diego.

“In the past couple of years, our community has worked together better than ever,” he said. “A major reason is that I have seen many of you reach out to all generations and to others with different political views. This is the best time for UniPro to be created in San Diego. I look forward to working with all of you.”

In the town hall dialogue that followed small groups discussed the following questions:

• What does community mean to you?
• What were your expectations of the Pilipino American community when you first joined?
• How do you perceive the Pilipino American community and what are your expectations now?
• Identify any needs of the community and potential solutions for those needs.
• Identify existing community organizations and how those organizations can work together to fulfill those needs.

Consul General Consul General Audie de Castro keynotes launch

Consul General Consul General Audie de Castro keynotes launch

The groups presented their responses to the entire audience. Some of the recurring themes included the need for improved communication, greater visibility in the political sphere, and professional and personal development. Some of the possible solutions presented were the creation of a Pilipino community center, a database of Pilipino American organizations in San Diego, recurring town hall meetings, and leadership and mentorship programs in the community.

UniPro was founded in 2009. San Diego is its first venture outside of New York City.

“UniPro has always been interested in expanding beyond the Metro-NY area. How could we work towards our vision of a unified and engaged Pilipino America without a presence in other major Pilipino American communities?” asked UniPro NY President Iris Zalun.

She continued: “The answer came when we became involved in the Empowering Pilipino Youth through Collaboration (EPYC) conference, held in San Diego last August. Through EPYC, we met a group of passionate leaders whose values of collaboration, advocacy, and education aligned with ours. That team then approached us, expressing a need for UniPro in the San Diego community. Thus, UniPro San Diego was born.”

San Diego has a large Pilipino American population. UniPro San Diego aims to identify and resolve the needs of the community while providing support, resources, and networks to organizations and individuals, most especially the youth.

UniPro San Diego President Romyn Sabatchi said, “It was humbling to be able to listen to the experiences and expectations of the Pilipino American community of new and seasoned members. Together we will be able to fulfill our needs with positive and effective solutions.”

UniPro San Diego will host a Town Hall and Community Dialogue Follow-Up on May 15. For more information, visit and contact

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