In the light of the upcoming national elections at the 8th NaFFAA National Empowerment Conference, one of our Northern California region’s brightest stars, Greg B. Macabenta, has decided to run for the office of NaFFAA National Chair. When he announced his intention to Region 8 Chair Jose Pecho and Region 8 Vice-Chair Lorna Dietz, the two regional officers immediately promised their support and personal endorsements. Somebody as results-driven as Greg Macabenta who has successfully trained business and community service leaders is someone we need during these fast-changing times. Both of these regional officers had trained with Greg B. Macabenta during the highly successful Third Global Filipino Networking Covention in 2005.
Here are some of Greg’s thoughts and ideas as he looks forward to NaFFAA’s growth as an empowerment organization.
First of all, thank you for your support. I am encouraged to pursue this candidacy in spite of the sacrifices that the position will subsequently entail. Para sa NaFFAA.
I have received a copy of Ernie Ramos’ platform and I’m forwarding it to you along with some comments. Please be assured that I am making these comments with no malice aforethought and only in the interests of NaFFAA. I am also resending my strategy document, the better for you to compare that with Ernie’s. I will appreciate your comments.
Ernie proposes to solve the problems of NaFFAA and achieve its objectives by way of his platform which I have taken the liberty of summarizing (divested of the verbiage).
In effect, Ernie Ramos is proposing to do the following:
TO RAISE MONEY FOR NAFFAA
1) Write grant proposals in the hope of raising millions from “Federal, State and County agencies”;
2) Call on corporations doing business with the FilAm community and solicit funds.
TO ACHIEVE FILAM EMPOWERMENT THROUGH NAFFAA
1) Assist green card holders in becoming US citizens.
2) Launch an aggressive voter registration (FilVote) and GOTV (Get Out The Vote) campaign;
3) Encourage you, as Regional Chair, and the State Chairs to organize ‘Getting to Know Your Candidates’ forum(s) in cooperation with “other Asian-American and minority organizations”;
4) Encourage you and the State chairs to hold fundraising events.
5) Challenge you and the State Chairs to expand your NaFFAA membership.
TO MAKE NAFFAA MORE INFLUENTIAL WITH THE WHITE HOUSE AND CONGRESS
1) Get to know White House and Congression leaders better in order to get their support.
2) Help you, as Regional Chair, and the State Chairs frame your strategies and draft your talking points in dealing with Congress. .
3) Impress upon you and the State Chairs the importance of FilAm voting power so that you can use this argument in dealing with your Congressmen.
4) Coordinate with you and the State Chairs in advocating for issues affecting FilAms before your respective State officials and before Congress.
5) Link up with other minority associations to get ““numbers support” and “network support” for legislation that will benefit FilAms;
TO STRENGTHEN RELATIONS WITH THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT
1) ” Establish mutual relationship” with members and leaders of the Congress;
2) “Impress” Congress and the administration with “NaFFAA’s role…in representing the issues and concerns impacting FilAms, immigrants and OFWs” and as a “responsible catalyst” in relations with the US.
3) Assist you and the State Chairs in facilitating dual citizenship and amending the Overseas Absentee Voting Act, as well as other rules affecting Filipinos in the US.
4) Express NaFFAA’s position on the merits or demerits of proposed bills and executive orders affecting FilAms and OFWS;
5) Be an active advocate for or against presidential resolutions or proposals that affect overseas Filipinos, using our “14 billion plus” remittances as leverage.
6) “Establish a mechanism” for making use of FilAm talents, skills and assets to benefit the Philippines.
The question is: Can Ernie commit to raise funds from grants soon enough to keep NaFFAA alive? Alma Kern and Loida Lewis thought that it was easy and found out that getting grants approved is easier said than done. Meanwhile, NaFFAA is running on empty.
If Ernie can achieve in a timely manner what Alma and NaFFAA have not been able to achieve in the past two years, then he will surely deserve to be NaFFAA chair. You might want to ask him if he is prepared to make such a commitment.
With respect to my modest proposals, I AM COMMITTING TO RAISE FUNDS IMMEDIATELY. It’s as simple as that. The grants should be written but, in the meantime, we need to sustain NaFFAA operations.
Another question: Of these proposed ways to”empower” FilAms, which ones are not already being done to a greater or lesser degree?
I know that many of our friends across the US have been conducting FilVote and Get-Out-The-Vote campaigns relentlessly for years. But the harsh reality is that what is required is an attitudinal change.
Making NaFFAA and our community “more influential” with the US Congress and the White House is something that you and other hardy champions for Veterans Equity have been trying to do for years. Slowly, success is being gained. But we’re still not sure of a victory in the House. This is the reason why we need to address the issue of organizing a potent political action committee at the national and local levels, something that you have been actively espousing for years. I hope they will discuss this at the national conference.
Perhaps Ernie Ramos can demonstrate his capabilities by using his Capitol Hill connections to get the Veterans Equity Bill passed in the House. You might want to ask him to do that. If he succeeds, he surely deserves to be National Chair of NaFFAA.
Meanwhile, let me summarize what I propose to do as National Chair:
TO STRENGTHEN NAFFAA’S IMAGE
1. Publish the book, NaFFAA: The First Decade,” a book on the struggle for empowerment, the role played by NaFFAA (citing specific cases) and featuring the winners and nominees in the first NaFFAA Kabayanihan Awards for Community Service; distribute the book among key publics: U.S. government policy/decision makers; Corporate sponsors and donor organizations; Media; Philippine government, business and NGOs; FilAm communities (NaFFAA and non-NaFFAA). This is something I can do with available resources, including my personal resources, clients and business contacts.
2. Mount a sustained information and communication campaign to strengthen awareness and image of NaFFAA before key publics. Again, this is something I can immediately implement with existing rescources, specifically my own, starting with a regular section on NaFFAA in Filipinas Magazine.
With these tools, NaFFAA can approach government and corporate targets with head held high and negotiate from a position of strength. This is something I do all the time for my clients, including the Seafood City Group and GMA Network.
TO BUILD NAFFAA’S FINANCIAL AND OTHER RESOURCES
Writing grant requests (which is the main program of Ernie Ramos) is fine but remember that this is a long-gestation exercise. We need activities that will deliver immediate tangible results and will also lay the foundation for securing grants.
1. Having revived and then built up NaFFAA’s image, we can market NaFFAA’s current assets to corporate sponsors, funding agencies and foundations. Our websites, conferences, database and community networks are worth their weight in gold as far as corporate sponsors are concerned - but first they must be impressed with NaFFAA. Right now, they are not.. This is why image building is so vital as a first step. Consider that with my little magazine - Filipinas - I am able to organize an annual awards presentation with corporate support from Anheuser Busch, Wells Fargo Bank, Set, Triple A, Hawaiian Airlines, Seafood City, Ayala Corporation, Genentech, State Farm, etc. A national organization like NaFFAA should be able to attract a lot more support, if our image can be properly revived and built up.
2. Mount programs that can be funded and sponsored immedaitely:
(a) Kabayanihan Community Services Awards.
(b) A national NaFFAA directory of FilAm organizations, social services, community assets and elected/appointed FilAm public officials. This is not a new idea but it can generate substantial revenues and will also help strengthen NaFFAA’s links with community organizatioins and services nationwide (after all, we will list them for free and give them prominence).
c) Programs/seminars/forums/conferences focusing on Seniors, Youth, Women, Health, Education, Civic Involvement, etc. which are of interest to foundations, corporations and other funding sources. SIPA (Search to Involve Pilipino Americans) in Los Angeles has been able to build a senior housing facility, buy a building and mount youth, senior and other community services by way of tangible programs. Joel Jacinto, executive director of SIPA told me two weeks ago that his organization would get actively involved with NaFFAA if I agreed to run for National Chair (one of the reasons why I made this decision). I hope to replicate SIPA’s programs in other cities, with Joel’s guidance.
3) Reactivate involvement with the Greenlining Coalition. This multi-ethnic organization has clout with all the major corporations and is able to access to community development funds that these corporations (specifically banks) are mandated to make available. This was how Alex Esclamado managed to secure funding during NaFFAA’s early years.
4) Hold an annual NaFFAA fund-raiser. This is not a new idea but it always works. NaFFAA has not done this at all.
5) Set up a Corporate Advisory Board through which we can access corporate and foundation funds. SIPA, La Raza and other ethnic organizations have this as a mandatory component. Loida Lewis attempted to set this up but there was no corresponding set of programs to which funds could be channelled (youth, education, health, seniors, etc.). This can be revived with the required program components. Operating funds can be derived from a percentage of proceeds (similar to SIPA).
6) Write Grants. Perhaps Ernie Ramos can be harnessed for this since he appears to be such an expert in doing it. But, again, we must remember that this takes a while bearing fruit and we need to have the requisite programs to justify the grants.
ESTABLISH A SUSTAINABLE NAFFAA STRUCTURE
1. Establish and activate task forces or working committees to undertake the programs earlier mentioned, delegating to members of the NaFFAA Board and the leaders of the Regions and the States. That way, we will not lack in heads and hands. More importantly, we will be able to harness the skills, expertise, time and resources of the key leaders of NaFFAA. We know you guys are just raring to prove yourselves. You should be given every encouragement and incentive to assume leadership in your various areas of expertise (Ernie in Grant writing, for instance). This way, we will no longer agonize over who should be the next National Chair of NaFFAA. The stars of the organization will shine and we will always have a deep bench. That is what I mean by sustainability.
Al, I hope you find all of this both interesting and valuable. Warmest regards.
Greg B. Macabenta
READ GREG B. MACABENTA’S PROPOSED ORGANIZATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR NAFFAA IN THE NEXT PAGE.
PREPARED BY GREG B. MACABENTA
I - THE STATE OF NAFFAA
1. The need for NaFFAA
a. NaFFAA was born out of a need for the Filipino-American community to take its place in the American mainstream and participate in decisions affecting its interests.
b. There was a need to harmonize the diverse voices of our community into one clear, powerful voice that could be heard by government, business and the American mainstream.
c. NaFFAA was built on the fundamental principles of Autonomy, Inclusiveness, Synergy and Strategic Coalitions. Article 1 – Statement of Principles (Constitution & By-Laws) underscores this (key points excerpted):
i. NaFFAA respects the autonomy of existing organizations.
ii. NaFFAA shall not duplicate the functions of these organizations except (when) necessary (for) alliances where none exist.
iii. NaFFAA shall build on the energies of the existing organizations, encouraging collaboration along issues and/or geographic boundaries.
iv. There are many Filipinos in America who do not belong to any type of Filipino-oriented association. NaFFAA shall ensure that their concerns are heard and solutions equally addressed.
v. NaFFAA shall promote laudable goals and champion issues so that it shall deserve recognition by Washington D.C. policy makers, government officials at all levels, private industry leaders and other advocacy groups as the official representative – The Voice – of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the United States.
vi. NaFFAA must endeavor to empower all its members in all facets of American life, while maintaining and strengthening our Filipino ties and cultural heritage.
vii. Finally, NaFFAA must recognize the strength and talents of our youth, our future leaders.
d. In sum, NaFFAA was not intended to have a centralized structure with authority and programs emanating from the top, but to operate on the “energies of the existing organizations, encouraging collaboration along issues and/or geographic boundaries.” The National Leadership would be the Pilot. The member organizations would be the engine, the real source of power.
2. NaFFAA is an organization in transition, having gone from birth to infancy and now reaching the weaning period. It must now progress into maturity based on the 5S: Solidarity, Synergy, Self-Reliance, Service and Sustainability.
a. Solidarity has been achieved. NaFFAA’s 12 regional chapters have stood together as a national federation – a feat no other Filipino American organization has achieved.
b. Synergy has been achieved in varying degrees – but there are many meaningful programs undertaken by member organizations that have not been integrated and packaged into a unified position in the eyes of the American mainstream. Thus, social, economic and political empowerment goals still have to be achieved.
c. Self-reliance is where NaFFAA has faltered – dependent on the generosity of the National Chair and unable to take advantage of its inherent assets and resources to afford staff and attract external support, mount programs and provide sustained, strategic services to its members.
d. Yet, Services and Programs are precisely what can expand membership and attract financial support to make NaFFAA self-reliant and have its voice heard.
1. Sustainability is an imperative for NaFFAA. The organization and its programs must be sustained beyond the lifetime of its founders. In this regard, the role of the youth is vital. Much remains to be done.
II - THE PROPOSED STRATEGY
1. Key Objectives:
a. Strengthen NaFFAA’s image
b. Implement key programs and provide meaningful services
c. Generate operating funds and program funding
d. Establish a sustainable, long-term structure
a. Plan must be concrete, doable, specific rather than general
b. Must be jump-started with existing and available assets and resources,
while external funding and support are being solicited
c. Must be participative, harnessing the leadership, resources and key programs of the NaFFAA regions, as well non-NaFFAA sectors.
d. Must make optimal use of available volunteer manpower, utilizing paid staff for coordination and support, with the National Leadership monitoring, guiding and leading.
e. Must be replicable and can be continued beyond the tenure of officers and the lifetime of the founders.
3. Target Publics
a. U.S. government policy/decision makers
b. Corporate sponsors and donor organizations’
d. Philippine government, business and NGOs
c. FilAm communities (NaFFAA and non-NaFFAA)
i. Publish “NaFFAA: The First Decade,” a book on the struggle
for empowerment, the role played by NaFFAA; case studies (Airport Screeners, Texas detainees, Katrina crisis, Dual Citizenship,Veterans Equity); profiles of member organizations and leaders; Gallery of Heroes; Directory of social and community services (including non-NaFFAA). Distribute the book to all key Target Publics.
Resources: Corporate sponsors, Filipinas Magazine, NaFFAA regions (for materials); my advertising agency, Minority Media
Services, Inc. and its clients.
i.i. Mount a sustained information and communication
campaign to strengthen awareness and image of NaFFAA
before key publics. Press releases, a NaFFAA column in
selected FilAm papers; quarterly or semestral special reports
appearing as a special supplement of FilAm publications
(with corporate sponsorships).
Resources: NaFFAA National PR Director; my publications:
Filipinas Magazine (the only nationally-circulated Filipino
glossy magazine in the U.S.)and Ang Panahon (a weekly
paper); my columns in Business World (RP) and in
newspaper in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco,
Phoenix, Houston, Seattle, Honolulu and Washington DC;
Filipino Print Media Organization (FilPRIMO) USA, a
national organization of publishers, of which I am Founding
President; broadcast networks (no exclusive media rights to
be granted, even while I am Marketing Consultant for
the US of GMA Network); NaFFAA regional chapters;
corporate sponsors; my ad agency and its clients.
i.i.i. NaFFAA “branding.” – Make optimal use of national,
regional, state and local events to project NaFFAA (logo,
banners, decals, buttons, pins, T-shirts, training materials,
position papers, publications, even a NaFFAA Anthem).
Resources: NaFFAA regions, based on templates prepared by
NaFFAA National; corporate sponsors, licensing agreements
with producers of premium, novelty and merchandising items;
my ad agency (I created the slogan, “Pinoy Power World-
wide,” wrote the poem and produced the video, “A Gathering
of Heroes – Pagbabalik ng mga Bayani,” which served as the
theme of the 3rd Global in Cebu.)
b. Resource Building.
i. Market NaFFAA’s current assets to corporate sponsors:
(b) Official designations (e.g., Official Communication Company of NaFFAA)
(c) Conference sponsorships (national, regional, global)
(d) Licensing of NaFFAA assets for novelties, premiums and merchandising
(e) NaFFAA network and database (with clearance from members)
ii. Mount “fund-able” and “sponsor-able” programs/projects based on original plans introduced at the 2nd National Empowerment Conference, current or planned programs of the regions and new initiatives:
(a) Annual NaFFAA Community Service Awards
(b) Youth and entrepreneurial training programs
(c) Annual NaFFAA directory of FilAm organizations and social services, community assets and elected/appointed FilAm public officials (National Talent Bank)
(d) NaFFAA database
(e) Programs focusing on Seniors, Youth, Women, Health, Education, Civic Involvement, etc. which are of interest to foundations, corporations and other funding sources.
iii. Activate participation in Greenlining Coalition, a powerful multi-ethnic minority coalition with access to corporate funds.
iv. Organize an Annual NaFFAA Fund-Raiser (concert, reception, ball, awards presentation, etc.).
v. Establish a Corporate Advisory Board made up of marketing and corporate relations executives of Fortune 500 companies (SIPA model).
vi. Grants. This is a long gestation process but must be pursued.
Resources: Existing assets (website, database, national network, regular conferences, programs); past corporate supporters; in the words of Lulu Esclamado: The funds are available from corporate sponsors. What they want to see are programs.”; my ad agency and clients; my media assets.
c. Program Development and Implementation. Harness regional, state and youth resources.
i. Follow the Fundamental Principle of “building on the energies” of the regions: delegate major national programs to regions with capabilities or with similar ongoing programs. The key role of NaFFAA National should be to follow-up, integrate and coordinate efforts of stakeholders, provide logistical, management and publicity and PR support.
(I used this approach in the 3rd Global, designating “Managers” for the various workshops and conference components, picked from the regional chairs, and giving them corresponding authority and prominence in the conference. My job as Organizing Committee Chair was to manage, coordinate and provide support. The only thing I could not delegate was the Gallery of Heroes, which I had to handle personally with the help of my family. This approach was applied in the Hawaii conference.)
ii. Document, consolidate and package the operative results into Special Reports and Position Papers, for presentation to key publics (e.g., a Position Paper on Immigration).
iii. Implement a system of recognition and awards for outstanding work.
iv. Delegate programs/projects to the youth sector, not necessarily because they are “youth” but because they have the expertise and the resources.
v. Coalesce with non-NaFFAA organizations with similar programs/objectives (Filipino Women’s Network, Filipino American National Historical Society, Filipinos for Affirmative Action, Filipino American Bar Associations, Asian Law Caucus, FIND, NFAYA, YFPA, Federation of FilAm Chambers of Commerce, FilPRIMO, Ayala Foundation U.S.A., etc.)
d. Development of a National Leadership Corps.
i. NaFFAA is not lacking in people with the skills, talent,
resources, commitment and dedication required for national leadership. All they need are more opportunities to display these qualities.
ii. By activating the regional, state and city chapters, the corresponding leaders will either rise to the challenge. It is incumbent on the national leadership to get them more involved in national affairs.
iii. Delegation, support, encouragement and recognition are vital in the development of the leadership corps. As CEO of Advertising & Marketing Associations, one of the largest ad agencies in the Philippines, I personally picked young people from a “vegetable garden” (a term I used to refer to homegrown potential managers whom I preferred over pirating “ready-made” senior managers) and personally trained and coached them. The result: Greg Atienza became president of the marketing arm of Smart Communications and of Pilipino Telephone Company (now retired); Carlos Go is CEO of the Seafood City Family of Companies, which owns and operates the Seafood City Supermarket Chain (15 supermarkets, most of them the size of a Safeway, in California and Las Vegas, plus three more being built, including a 50-50 joint venture with Ayala Corporation) plus the national franchise for Chow King, etc.; Gil G. Chua, CEO of DDB Worldwide, one of the largest ad agencies in the Philippines; Aris Africa, Regional VP for RJ Reynolds (now retired); Nonna Nanagas, President of Dentu-Philippines; Lito Hontiveros, General Manager of the Seafood City Supermarket chain; etc. etc.
iv. In the above examples, I refer to young people TO WHOM I taught the ropes. In the case of NaFFAA, I am referring to leaders FROM WHOM I can learn many things. But the same principles of delegation, support, encouragement and recognition apply.