Who We Are
Simply stated, Northern California is the “Ground Zero” of NaFFAA, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, a nationwide volunteer-run, coordinating advocacy organization with 12 regions, that primarily advocates for Filipinos in the United States who are being held back from being empowered or are being disempowered. Northern CA’s boundary extends up to San Luis Obispo and Kern counties.
Since 1997, NaFFAA Region 8’s regional chairs and their board members have guided the growth and evolution of the region through its programs and activities. We honor the wisdom and works of these “initiators and instigators” — from Rodel Rodis, Esq., Marivic Bamba, to Jose Pecho.
Meet the Leadership Team.
EXECUTIVE OFFICERS: Lorna Lardizabal Dietz, NaFFAA-R8 Chair; Genevieve Jopanda, NaFFAA-R8 Vice Chair; Clarence Madrilejos, NaFFAA-R8 Youth Chair (Youth, a.k.a. YP or Young Pinoys/Pinays); Tina Novero, NaFFAA-R8 Secretary & Communications Director; Jinni Mabalot-Bartolome, NaFFAA-R8 Treasurer & NaFFAA-R8 San Mateo County Chair
BOARD MEMBERS: Jose Pecho, NaFFAA-R8 Chair Emeritus; Ben Menor, NaFFAA-R8 Strategic Adviser & Facilitator, NaFFAA-R8 Santa Clara County Chair; Charito Benipayo, NaFFAA-R8 Alameda County Chair & Regional Adviser, Rudy Asercion, NaFFAA-R8 San Francisco Chair, & Rodel Rodis, Esq., NaFFAA Legal Counsel & Regional Adviser
Our Core Values
NaFFAA-R8’s 2012-2014 executive officers, who were elected at the AT&T-sponsored NaFFAA Region 8 Community Empowerment Summit at Hana Zen-Pier 39 on March 16, 2012, identified the CORE VALUES that guide the leadership team in its decision-making process.
Respect / Integrity / Courage
Infrastructure / Leadership Development / Retention
Stewardship / Servant Leadership Training / A new approach on how we treat each other at the Corporate level
Communication / Access & Reliability
What We’re Up To
As of 2012
NaFFAA Region 8 stimulates momentum in finding solutions to help empower Filipinos regionally, nationally, and globally. Among NaFFAA-R8’s accomplishments, with a succession plan that includes our youth or YP’s, are: (1) Having more collaborative activities with our Community Allies (such as KAYA, APAPA, FANHS, FPACC, YFPA, West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, & New America Media); (2) The continued work of NaFFAA-R8 Media Group (connecting media + community) as well as an aggressive digital technology advocacy strategy that enhances the established presence of naffaar8.com, thus complimenting its grassroots efforts; (3) The presence & assistance of NaFFAA-R8 at many of the Filipino community’s events & festivals (4) Stimulating discussions among local community leaders with legislative officials through community forums; (5) Continuing economic empowerment activities with Community Partners such as The Greenlining Institute; (6) The continuing advocacy of honoring our Filipino American World War II Veterans’ legacy; (7) Supporting the Filipino American Day at the Asian Art Museum on October 7, 2012; (8) Dream Act / Comprehensive Immigration Reform advocacies; and (9) Continuing Voter Registration Campaign, grassroots and online, through NaFFAA #FilAmVote.
Example: The Dream Act
Working with Jose Antonio Vargas of the Define American campaign, NaFFAA-R8 is helping to coordinate the establishment of more networks that strongly push for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Successes include: (1) Coordinating with the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club in inviting Jose Antonio Vargas to be their Keynote Speaker at its Annual Dinner on October 7, 2011, where he was honored with the prestigious Community Warrior Award, 250 attendees; (2) Coordinating with the East Bay Asian Democratic Club on March 29, 2012 where Jose Antonio Vargas was the speaker for its Annual Dinner, 150 attendees; (3) NaFFAA-R8’s “Define American Town Hall Meeting” at the main lobby of Seasons Marketplace at Landess in Milpitas, CA as well as a Filipino media press conference on March 30, 2012, 75 attendees, excluding shoppers; and (4) Assistance in establishing contact with NaFFAA Region 12 (Pacific Islands region of Hawaii, Guam, & the Marianas), resulting in a coordination effort between Jose Antonio Vargas and Amy Agbayani about future public presentations in Hawaii.
2012 NaFFAA Region 8 Report
This is the 5-minute report of NaFFAA Region 8 that was presented at the E-2012 on August 2, 2012 at the Detroit Marriott at Rennaisance Center.
This unedited report was written in July of 2009 as a working draft for a Filipinas Magazine article that was written by Greg B. Macabenta, NaFFAA’s National Chair.
SCENES FROM A SOLIDARITY RALLY
It started with an email. Rudy Asercion, City & County Chair of San Francisco, from the Northern California region of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, a.k.a. NaFFAA Region 8, is also known as the Executive Director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center, a 40-year old Filipino-run non-profit agency that provides direct services to the Filipino community from its humble South of Market headquarters. Rudy alerted the regional NaFFAA board members that out of the $9 million of NOFA city funds that were allocated for disadvantaged families, no Filipino non-profit was included in the short list of 23 organizations that had been recommended by a committee to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Within the same week, email correspondence among the regional board and core members, headed by Jose Pecho, regional chair and Lorna Dietz, regional vice chair, focused on consensus-building discussions and a decision making process among the many Filipino community-based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group met during an Overseas Absentee Voting Forum that had been organized by the Philippine American Press Club-USA where many community members were expected to be present. As a result of that Saturday’s emergency meeting, the collaborative organizers agreed to hold a “Solidarity Rally” in front of San Francisco’s majestic City Hall entrance the following Tuesday. NaFFAA R8′s volunteers, led by NaFFAA co-founder Rodel Rodis, Jose Pecho, and Rudy Asercion immediately went to work as co-coordinators for the gathering which was held a day before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ meeting.
West Bay was the designated spot for handmade signs and placards to be created and megaphones to be dropped off. A volunteer created an online petition, demanding for Filipino non-profits to be included in the city funding’s distribution. Viral marketing methods were deployed to spread the word: phone calls, emails, and social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook. By Monday morning, the flier that was distributed to thousands of recipients among NaFFAA R8’s network called for concerned citizens to join in the rally, write a letter to the Board of Supervisors, and sign the online petition. On Tuesday, at 5:00 pm, a couple of hundred or more participants congregated at the City Hall’s steps, many of them wearing the agreed “white” clothing. Rodel Rodis noted, “It was as representative a cross-section of the Filipino community as I had ever seen at a protest rally. There were WW II veterans (some in wheelchairs), young school kids, college students, professionals, clerical employees, Republicans, Democrats, even press representatives from both ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel (TFC) and GMA’s Pinoy TV.”
Barely five hours after the rally, the first YouTube video was released worldwide by NaFFAA R8’s Media Group, rallying Filipinos and friends nationwide to sign the online petition. Post-event articles, opinion editorials, blog postings, and commentaries from the Filipino community resonated with one clear message: “We will not be ignored!”
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: NaFFAA’s GROUND ZERO
Voicing issues such as the non-representation of the Filipino Community in Asian Art Museum’s Board of Trustees in San Francisco, for example, has forcibly engaged dialogues and forums among the community’s stakeholders. NaFFAA’s history in Northern California is synonymous with significant milestones in NaFFAA’s history of political empowerment. When NaFFAA was organized in 1997 by some of NaFFAA R8’s community leaders and activists such as Alex Esclamado, Founding Publisher of Philippine News, and Rodel Rodis, an immigration attorney, the intention was for the national organization to become an alliance or coalition of organizations, rather than an umbrella organization, with national offices in Washington DC. Respecting the autonomy of individual member organizations has always been a prime directive. Greg Macabenta, NaFFAA’s National Chair and NaFFAA R8 member, points out, “The emphasis is for Filipinos nationwide to collaborate on a wide range of issues based on interests, available resources, and capabilities.”
Through the years, Northern California’s NaFFAA leadership team continues to live with the duality of its efforts to empower Filipino Americans: a “rise” and a “struggle.”
A “rise,” for instance, means that NaFFAA R8’s members played a continuous pivotal role for more than 18 years in advocating for the Filipino American World War II Veterans’ benefits. A candlelight rally commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the infamous Rescission Act of 1946 and celebrated the announcement of the veterans’ long overdue lump sum benefits, a Bataan Day of Valor celebration was prominently supported by San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom, a duo concert of acclaimed classical guitarist Michael Dadap, one of NaFFAA’s founders, with his spouse, Yeou-Cheng Ma on the violin became a rare musical gathering, and a Memorial Day weekend concert featured the “Angelos” group of Tenors from the Philippines.
The region “struggles” with identifying more youth and young professional leaders who are willing to contribute in the region’s Filipino empowerment activities. Jenab-i Pareja, the region’s Youth Chair, says, “We invite you all to be empowered, educated, angered and challenged in a way to engender a creative force of advocacy.” Jenab-i exposes a typical Bay Area concern, “Illuminating the Queer Diaspora,” which listed “to expose the queerness of politics and utilize it as a vehicle of social change” as one of the 7th Annual Queer Pin@y Conference 2008’s goals. As a seasoned youth organizer, Jenab-i is personally committed to bringing a larger contingent of youth in the NaFFAA core meetings and within the NaFFAA space in general through youth events and “Meet and Greet” affairs.
Jose Pecho leads the “rise” in more economic empowerment activities that hopes to pave the way for more programs that can be duplicated in other NaFFAA regions. NaFFAA’s recent collaborative Free Foreclosure Prevention Clinics with Mabuhay Alliance, the City of Vallejo, the City of Daly City, the Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County Inc., and the City of Albany stressed the importance of having educational workshops within these clinics to help empower residents and citizens. Debt Management, Credit Repair, Bankruptcy Basics, and Tax Implications were popular workshop topics. The “struggle” is in making more Filipino-owned businesses in the Bay Area aware of small business expos and matchmaking fairs such as the recently-concluded “Doing Business with PG & E and the California Public Utilities.”
The “rise” in more cultural empowerment activities, more involvement with “Green” initiatives, and an Online Communications program that shares available online and mobile outreach resources to impact social change and encourage citizen journalism, and the documentation of the region’s accomplishments at http://naffaar8.com are among the Ground Zero projects of NaFFAA R8.
Charito Benipayo, the group’s Parliamentarian as well as Alameda County’s Chapter Chair, has many plans which include hosting the First Filipino American Fiesta in Marina Park, San Leandro and using eScrip.com tools for fundraising. Ben Menor, Santa Clara County’s Chair, believes that there are many more homeowners who could benefit from more foreclosure prevention clinics and its ancillary workshops in his area. The Monterey Bay Chapter, headed by Elmer Dolera, echoes the same concerns about foreclosures in Salinas and beyond. Ben Menor is busy preparing for “E-2010” or the 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference that will be held sometime in 2010 in San Francisco. Jinni Mabalot Bartolome, the regional treasurer, is currently planning the formalization of the San Mateo County Chapter. In San Francisco, Rudy Asercion leads a pilot project, a safety campaign in educating and protecting children, with the assistance of the FBI and the Filipino American Law Enforcement Organization. Once the National Child Identification Program, long overdue in the Filipino community, is established, Rudy will prepare the next steps to introduce the mechanics to other Filipino American organizations in the state and national level.
NaFFAA’s situation in Northern California is unique because the region is subdivided into county chapters, eventually reaching its borders at Kern County. The board members “struggle” to train its leaders, recruit new members, and develop new talent, thus paving the way for a smooth succession plan. Viki Bamba, the former regional chair, explains why Filipinos would be interested in being a NaFFAA member, as an individual or as an organization: (1) Access to a national network; (2) Choices of empowerment programs and projects; and (3) Training for leadership. ACT Now! The region recently received its own 501 (c) 3 non-profit status, establishing a more solid foundation for future programs that meet funding requirements.
Greg Macabenta summarizes the reason for NaFFAA’s existence: “NaFFAA is a non-profit and non-partisan coalition of community organizations and advocacy groups representing some 4 million people of Filipino descent in America, promoting the interests and well-being of the United States, and concerned over the welfare of the Philippines.”
ELECTED REGIONAL OFFICERS
1997 – 2003
Rodel Rodis – Regional Chair
Viki Bamba – Regional Vice Chair
2003 – 2007
Viki Bamba – Regional Chair
Cheryl Platon – Regional Youth Chair (2005-2006)
Paolo Macabenta – Regional Youth Chair (2006-2007)
Jose Pecho – Regional Vice Chair
Lorna Dietz – Acting Treasurer
2007 – March 2012
Jose Pecho – Regional Chair
Caroline Iwamoto – Regional Youth Chair (2007)
Jenab-i Pareja – Regional Youth Chair (2008 – )
Lorna Dietz – Regional Vice Chair
Jinni Bartolome – Regional Treasurer
March 2012 – 2013
Lorna Dietz – NaFFAA R8 Chair
Genevieve Jopanda – NaFFAA R8 Vice Chair
Clarence Madrilejos – NaFFAA R8 Youth Chair
Tina Novero – NaFFAA R8 Secretary
Jinni Mabalot Bartolome – NaFFAA R8 Treasurer
Jose Pecho – NaFFAA R8 Chair Emeritus
Ben Menor – NaFFAA R8 Strategic Facilitator & Adviser and NaFFAA R8 Santa Clara County Chair
Charito Benipayo – NaFFAA R8 Alameda County Chair & NaFFAA R8 Adviser
Rudy Asercion – NaFFAA R8 San Francisco Chapter Chair
Rodel Rodis, Esq., – NaFFAA R8 Adviser & NaFFAA National Legal Counsel
NaFFAA REGION 8 REPORT AT 2012 NaFFAA EMPOWERMENT CONFERENCE, DETROIT, MICHIGAN
by NaFFAA Region 8 Chair, Lorna L. Dietz
DOCUMENTATION FOR E-2010, for the record:
E-2010: 9th NaFFAA Empowerment Conference’s theme is “Building the next generation of community advocates.” Click here to enter the E-2010 blog for more information. Please join us on November 19-21, 2010. The early bird registration rate has been extended to October 31, 2010. Details about sponsorship and advertising opportunities are available here. Baylan Megino is E-2010-NaFFAA R8′s special events coordinator.
E-2010 Post-Event Report is found here.
NaFFAA REGION 8 REPORT FOR 2008 NaFFAA EMPOWERMENT CONFERENCE, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON STATE
by NaFFAA Region 8 Chair, Jose Pecho
NaFFAA REGION 8 REPORT FOR 2006 NaFFAA EMPOWERMENT CONFERENCE, HONOLULU, HAWAII
by NaFFAA Region 8 Chair, Viki Bamba