Something Filipino in 2016: A year of diversity and success in the community

Something Filipino in 2016: A year of diversity and success in the community

The 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco featured the Philippines Pavilion — the fourth year in a row the country has participated in the event’s 41-year history.

Organized by the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) and the Foreign Trade Services Corps-Philippine Trade and Investment Center, the pavilion featured 16 Philippine companies offering an array of products, including heirloom rice, banana chips, coconut juice/milk/oil/sugar, seafood, sea salt, condiments, syrups and even ice pops and jellies.

What is interesting to note about the Philippines Pavilion is the unique story and presentation it had to offer to visitors – that of offering “Food Products with a Heart.”

According to Trade Commissioner Nicanor Bautista, this is in response to global trends which demand accountability, the preservation of good practices, and a sense of community.

“Thanks to the Filipino heart, social entrepreneurs have made it a vocation to support, mobilize and engage local farms and fishers, and work to ensure their success. The future is seeing through stories considerable promise in the industry’s landscape where cultural heritage and entrepreneurial prosperity reach harmony,” Bautista said. (By Joseph L. Peralta)

The Organization Organization founder, Jiliane Patriarca: On controlling space and keeping it together (January)

Personal organizer Jiliane Patriarca understands how people can just give up in the middle of decluttering, as it can become overwhelming.   She founded The Organization Organization (TOO) in 2014, to help others create the most intuitive organizing system and process.

As the sole owner of TOO, Jiliane’s current challenge is not having enough hands to help her.  At present, she has a blog with three regular contributors and collaborates with her alma mater, Franklin University Switzerland for internships.

Salupongan International: Fighting for the rights of indigenous people (April)

According to available data, it is estimated that there are at least 2 million Lumads living in Mindanao, mostly in remote areas where multi-national logging and mining companies come to extract from the country’s abundant natural resources. Mindanao is home to more than half of the Philippine’s mineral wealth and major crops.   The Lumads are now forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods so they can live safely.  However, many leave not only their homes, but also their fields and ancestral domain.

Today, the fight for indigenous peoples’ rights continues.  One organization that has come forward in advocating this is Salupongan International (SI).  Founded in February 2015, the organization was formed in the spirit of “Salupongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon,” meaning “Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land;” or literally “a gathering (salupong) for a land (tanu) that cannot be alienated (kanugon) from its people.    Salupongan Ta’Tanu Igkanugon is a unifed group of Manobos that was formed in 1993 to defend themselves from a logging corporation that was ravaging their ancestral land and threatening to destroy their livelihood.

Pin@y Educational Partnerships: Understanding race beyond skin color (April)

Pin@y (Pinay/Pinoy) Educational Partnerships (PEP) is a service learning program that has been using that connection to students since 2001.  Founded in 2001 by Dr. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and her students from San Francisco State University (SFSU) Claudine Del Rosario, Kimmy Maniquis, Gwen Agustin, tracy Buenavista, Ivan Santos, Jeff Ponferrada, Mark Bautista, Perci dela Cruz, Maricel Elacio, Christine Bernard, Christopher Rini and Anjela Wong; PEP started as a lunchtime mentoring program at Balboa High School in San Francisco.

From the conversations with students came out issues like high rates of dropouts, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, gang violence and mental health issues, as well as identity, low numbers of Filipino/a teachers and faculty representation as well as in the curriculum, and a fractured sense of community.  From there, Dr. Tintiangco-Cubales and her students organized workshops to address these issues and develop solidarity.

At present, P@P is currently serving 220 students—from kindergarten to college, with 52 teachers weekly.  They also have an after school cultural enrichment program at Longfellow Elementary school, an 8th grade elective course at James Denman Middle school, and an elective course at Balboa and Philip Sala Burton High Schools.  PEP is also partnered with Step to College at SF State, Claudine del Rosario at USF and Dr. Daus-Magbual at Skyline College.

Myla Ramos, President of SearchPros Solutions: From small to making it big (June)

From humble beginnings as a housekeeper, Myla Ramos and her company, SearchPros Solutions (with co-founders Heather Kocina and Rayna Pearson), is now one of the most successful and fastest-growing companies in the United States.

A national human resource and staffing company, SearchPros in 2010 won a 10-year, $250 million annual contract to provide labor for national technology defense and aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin Corp. In 2011, the company was named Small Business of the Year for California and Small Business Subcontractor of the Year in the district of Sacramento.

Fast forward to 2016, Ramos and SearchPros are still flying high. The company was awarded by the US Chamber of Commerce as the 2016 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year last month and became a finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year. They were also recently featured in Forbes magazine’s Women Business Leaders issue.

Diversity matters: Fil-Ams in the Obama Administration (Part 1 & 2, July)

The Obama administration has been touted as the most diverse in American history, according to a study made by UC Berkeley.  Of the many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in President Barack Obama’s administration, there are fifteen (15) Filipino-Americans who serve in different capacities.  These Fil-Am appointees have brought not only their skills and expertise to serve the public, but their Filipino heritage as well.

DOT Secretary Wanda Teo and the beautiful change in the PH (August)

PART of the new direction of the administration in making positive changes in the Philippines is newly appointed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo.

As an archipelago rich and brimming in biodiversity, culture, heritage, and history, the Philippines is indeed a place where amazing tourist destinations are around every corner.

Last July 28, Teo made an announcement that the grand Miss Universe Beauty Pageant will be held in the Philippines on January 30, 2017, making it a strategic opportunity to promote tourism in the Philippines.

Twenty years ago, it was not the case.  That time, it was very difficult to endorse the Philippines, according to Teo.  Today, the DOT secretary wants tourists — Filipinos or not — to see the beauty and changes that are happening in the country. (By Dana M. Sioson)

Peninsula Family Service-Senior Peer Counseling: Making a difference in the lives of older adults (September)

Founded in 1987 by Della McGrath, the Senior Peer Counseling (SPC) program was initially part of the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.  In 1989, La Esperenza Vive was added to serve the Spanish-speaking population.  By 2009, the program was contracted to Peninsula Family Service and was expanded to three additional target populations — Chinese, Filipino and LGBTQ older adults.  The program is funded by the Mental Health Services Act, which was passed in 2004.

During its 25th anniversary, McGrath, a licensed clinical social worker expressed, “It is certainly wonderful to think that I had a hand in starting something that blossomed with program specialties for Filipino, Chinese, Latino and LGBT communities.  Carry on the good noble work.  You will receive the reward of feeling you contributed to the community.”

The SPC program a one-on-one service provided by trained volunteers who listen carefully, offer confidential emotional support, guidance and empathy to older adults facing challenges such as loneliness, depression, grief, change in health or isolation from family and friends — sometimes caused by a cultural or language barrier — and life changes.   Apart from the emotional support, the program also offers access to community services.

Today, the program has 330 clients, 71 of whom are Filipinos.  This includes group counseling, or the “Kapihan sa Lincoln,” which was formed in 2013 to support older adults who gather at the Lincoln Community Center to pick up their Second Harvest bags during Wednesday mornings.

‘Ba-e Makiling’ on rediscovering the indigenous self  (September)

A collaboration with Bay Area Filipino master artists — Philippine dance choreographer Jay Loyola, composer Florante Aguilar of the award-winning documentary “Harana,” and Kularts’s Artistic Director Alleluia Panis —  “Ba-e Makiling” is inspired by Philippine myths and native spirituality.  Set before the coming of Europeans, in an imagined remote village at the foot of Mount Makiling, the deity Ba-e Makiling, guardian of the dormant volcano, unexpectedly falls in love with an injured hunter, Lakai.  Their relationship serves as an empowering message to rediscover and reclaim the indigenous, self-denied by centuries of colonization.

Loyola’s innovative dance movements deliberately draw upon “barrio or rural,” celebratory native dances by Christianize Filipinos of the Luzon and Visayas islands.  Rooted in deep pre-colonized cultures, when the Spanish came, these dances were strategically disguised as depictions of happily content farmers and fishermen to prevent Spanish Catholic priests from banning them as dances of the devil.


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