Reflection: NaFFAA’s Civic Leadership Forum

            On Saturday, April 14th, LEAD Filipino participated in National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA)’s Northern California Civic Leadership Forum. The all-day forum was hosted by the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, and sought to: Spark, Connect, and Empower Filipino/a American students, activists, and elected officials within the San Francisco Bay Area.

            Members of LEAD Filipino took a key role both in moderating and participating in the event. Kevin Suarez; LEAD Filipino’s Naturalization Ceremonies & Voter Registration Organizer, helped organize the event with NaFFAA’s Region 8 (San Francisco Bay Area) team, as well as moderated the forum’s Civic Leadership Panel. Members of the panel included Roderick Daus Magbual of PEP (Pin@y Educational Partnerships), Arvin J. Garcia of NCPASA (Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance), Geraldine Alcid of FAJ (Filipino Advocates for Justice) and our very own Founder; Angelica Cortez of LEAD Filipino.

            The panel included questions on issues facing Filipino-American youth (18-34) who make up nearly ¼ of the 4 million Filipino/a Americans in the United States. The panel agreed on issues such as the loss of language/culture, the high housing costs of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the dissuasion of young Filipino-Americans to aspire to professional leadership roles. Angelica Cortez mentioned LEAD Filipino’s efforts in tackling these issues: by creating mentorships and networks through our Fly Pinay Mentorship Program, by educating young Filipino/a Americans of their culture and history through our Awareness in Action program, and by mobilizing the vote of our fellow Filipinos both young and old through our Voter Registration and Civic Engagement Team. The panelists agreed that while good work has been done in the past, much more work still lays ahead for giving our community the voice it deserves.

            One of these voices included Assemblymember Rob Bonta; the first Filipino American elected to California’s State Legislature. Bonta; who was the forum’s keynote speaker, related to the audience his family history and it ties to the United Farmworkers’ Movement. He mentioned that while our community has come a long way from that era, that our community needed to focus on inspiring and cultivating the next generation of Filipino-American leaders. Fortunately, his words did not fall on deaf ears, as many college-aged representatives from NCPASA (Northern California Pilipinx American Student Alliance) gathered around the Assembly-member after his speech to ask personal advice regarding empowerment and the possibility of running for elected office in the future.

            The Forum was a success: over 100 attendees were at the event, representing more than 30 cities from as far away as Stockton and San Diego. Of these attendees, LEAD Filipino’s organizers played a key role in being one of the few organizations to represent San Jose and received a Participation Award during the Community Reception.

A Filipino proverb says that “Kung may tinanim, may aanihin.”, which translates to: “If you plant, you harvest.” Though the harvest may seem distant, you can be sure LEAD Filipino is working hard to cultivate our community’s future in the Bay Area.

In Community,

Kevin Suarez
Naturalization Ceremonies & Voter Registration
LEAD Filipino

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