06 May 2014- With smiles on their faces, high spirits and a renewed resolve to further the causes and advocacies of the Filipino-American youth across the United States, nearly 200 participants comprising of young leaders, speakers, panelists, reactors and sponsors, who attended the inaugural Fil-Am Young Leaders Summit, now have more reasons to be engaged in their respective communities and to become partners in advancing the interests of Filipino-Americans.
The whole day Summit, held at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, Hawaii on May 3, was co-organized by the first and second batches of the Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPRO), the brainchild program of Philippine Ambassador to the United States of America Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., US Gawad Kalinga, the Filipino Community Center and the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I would like to commend all of you, who are present here, for taking the time to be with us and discuss issues that are important to the diaspora. I believe the common thread that has gathered you together today is that you are all proud Filipinos. This activity will not just be an opportunity for myself and our Consulate officials to touch base with you but more importantly, for you to meet each other and hopefully establish linkages,” Ambassador Cuisia said, in his opening remarks during the Summit.
The Ambassador also shared with the participants the accomplishments and highlights of the ever-growing and strengthening alliance between the Philippines and the US, capped by the official visits of President Benigno S. Aquino III to Washington, DC in June of 2012 and President Barack Obama to Manila last April 28 to 29, 2014.
Addressing the Filipino-American youth once more, Ambassador Cuisia remarked, “You represent the best of both worlds: roots in our rich Philippine culture, and wings provided by the opportunities you are exposed to in this country. What I strongly encourage you to find, is your voice: a voice in policy discussions and the political process, and in the economic life of both countries. We need a stronger voice for the Filipino American community in U.S. Government, including Congress, where decision making can be influenced and shaped.”
Other guest speakers during the summit include Mr. Tony Olaes, Chairman of the US Gawad Kalinga, Brigadier General Lysander Suerte, Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, J7, and Ms. Rovaira Dasig, President of The PULSE Group, a Manila-based creative firm which helps the youth create passion-driven careers in the Philippines.
During the Summit, four (4) break-out sessions were held to enable the participants to select the topics of their interest and choice. Panelists of these sessions include the FYLPRO delegates and reactors coming from Hawaii’s business, education, government sectors.
These sessions had the following themes:
1. Filipino Community and Civic Engagement;
2. Philippine Arts and Culture take center stage;
3. Filipino talent drives tourism, business, economy; and
4. Education as the key to uniting the Filipino diaspora.
Overall, the 1st Fil-Am Young Leaders Summit was a resounding success, gauging from the high turnout of participants from across the US, as well as their appreciation for the invaluable inputs and advice given by the speakers. The Summit, which had the sub-theme “Your Move” generated a keen interest among the participants to continue to embark on different advocacies to help promote further progress in the Philippines and engagement with the multi-faceted Filipino-American community. END