Filipino American Alliance Celebrates 10 Years of Service
LONG BEACH, CA — On October 10 to 12, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), an alliance of thirty-one organizations throughout the United States, celebrated its more than 10 years of serving and protecting the Filipino community in the U.S. and around the world.
In sync with the celebration of its “Dekada” (10 in Filipino), the alliance successfully gathered more than one hundred and fifty Filipino leaders and community’s supporters for its 3rd General Assembly. The tri-annual occasion is held so the many organizations of the alliance can plan its work ahead as well as elect its new leaders for the coming three years.
NAFCON however, did not stop there. To further commemorate its milestone moment, the alliance also released a document entitled “Ten Years, Ten Victories” which enumerates 10 key victories that NAFCON has achieved since its inception. One of the alliance’s most recent and notable victories included the raising of more than 1 million dollars for Typhoon Haiyan victims. The significant amount of money NAFCON collected was allocated directly to several trusted partners and people’s organizations on the ground in the Philippines. These funds were immediately used for emergency relief assistance at the height of the typhoon’s aftermath.
May Vargas of BALSA Mindanao, one of NAFCON’s main relief and rehabilitation organizational partners in the Philippines, affirmed the immediate and continuing impact of NAFCON’s work. Vargas had traveled from Mindanao, her home, to attend the General Assembly and serve as one of its key speakers.
“To date, NAFCON supports a lot of farming communities in Typhoon Haiyan devastated areas in their efforts to rebuild their communities, especially in terms of sustainable agriculture and organic farming. NAFCON was the first to respond when we called for help when Typhoon Pablo hit Mindanao and Haiyan in the Visayas. Two weeks after Haiyan hit, we were the first to deliver a comprehensive intervention and the first to let the children laugh and play after a major catastrophe changed their lives. More than 50 peasant indigenous communities now have their own farms to till and they are trained on agricultural sustainability.” Vargas said.
In addition to its efforts around relief and rehabilitation, another one of NAFCON’s key victories is holding high its candle and continuing to serve the interests of Filipino migrants here in the U.S. Terrence Valen, NAFCON President described examples of the alliance’s commitment toward protecting its community.
“That is what it has been, NAFCON standing together with workers on the streets, in churches, in communities, in schools, in workplaces focusing on issues such as migrant rights. We hosted the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) just this passed year in New York at the United Nations,” Valen said.
Valen also spoke of NAFCON’s involvement in working to unite and connect the struggles of Filipino migrants to that of other migrant communities from around the world. NAFCON has done this is through hosting national and international gatherings, such as IAMR, that discuss, tackle, and seek to develop a stronger community effort around the challenges Filipinos and non-Filipinos face together. NAFCON’s ability to convene large gatherings of representatives from throughout the Filipino community and beyond was another example of its significant victories.
Bernadette Herrera, a Filipino mother who survived many years of being undocumented in the U.S., also former NAFCON Vice President, emboldened the alliance to continue to advance its work and meet the major challenges ahead. Herrera, speaking from the heart, addressed the inability of the current Philippine government to provide a positive future for the Filipino people. “I am only one out of the 4,500 who leave the Philippines everyday yearning to give a better future for our family because the Philippine government has not been able to.” Herrera said.
Dr. Leni Jara of the Council for Health and Development in the Philippines, another one of NAFCON’s relief partners who attended the assembly, emphasized the deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the Philippines. “400,000 nurses in the Philippines do not have jobs. Majority of them are employed in call centers. We know that the problem of the Philippines has been going on for over a hundred years. We have been providing health services for peasants, fisherfolks and workers for 40 years and the situation is the same and even worsening” Jara said.
Valen, explained the meaning of the weekend’s theme, “Celebrate our Unity” and “Win More Victories.” He shared that it was important to recognize what the alliance has accomplished and then said, “We have to advance and win more victories to sustain our work and actually grow and build the strength of NAFCON, but more importantly, our communities.”
In closing, Valen also made sure to offer appreciation for the host of the large gathering. Valen said, “The Grace United Methodist Church was gracious to host us all of the church leaders and church members, students, youth, women, all sectors of our community coming together to celebrate our unity and win more victories!”
The event which took place in Long Beach, CA brought together many of the most important Filipino leaders from key areas throughout the country including New York, Bay Area, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Southern California.
NAFCON looks ahead towards activities and events marking the significance of Typhoon Haiyan’s One Year Anniversary on November 8th, 2014. The alliance is expected to launch the second phase of its Environmental Justice for the Philippines campaign with the “Adopt a Communities” program.
For more information on NAFCON and its 10 Victories go to www.nafconusa.org, email email@example.com or call 415.333.6267. ###