10 Fil-Am youth leaders to take part in PH immersion program | Global News

10 Fil-Am youth leaders to take part in PH immersion program

/ 03:00 AM June 04, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC—Ten young Filipino-American “change-makers” will be given the opportunity to connect with their Philippine roots this year as part of the 2014 Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro).

The 10 Filipino-American fellows will immerse in local communities and converse with government and industry leaders.


The fellows who were selected from nominations from across the United States are: Edward Aparis of Chula Vista, California; Ryyn Chua, Gardena, California; Rommel Clemente, Milpitas, California; Adette Contreras, Brooklyn, New York; Michael Dahilig, Lihue, Hawaii; Rafael Diokno, Washington, D.C.; Abbey Eusebio, Lincolnwood, Illinois; Jan Paul Ferrer , Tinley Park, Illinois; Ryan Letada, New York, New York; and Jason Tengco, Washington, DC.

“I am excited with this group of promising individuals,” Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said.  “We truly had a difficult time narrowing down the choices, as many of the applicants were impressive and well qualified.”


Cuisia said the delegates will take part in an immersive program in the Philippines from July 24 to 28 that will give them the opportunity to meet and dialogue with high-ranking officials and policymakers in the Philippines, leaders of industry, media, cultural experts, traditional business leaders, social entrepreneurs as well as innovators in different fields.

A brainchild of Cuisia and his wife, Victoria, the program builds on the success of the programs held in 2012 and 2013 that were participated in by 20 other promising Filipino-American youth leaders.

Minister and Consul Emilio Fernandez said previous FYLPro delegates have gone on to undertake, among other things, political advocacy initiatives, cultural and tourism promotion programs, social entrepreneurship activities, education innovations, Filipino-American heritage projects, voter awareness and education and have even launched political campaigns of their own.

Fernandez said the search for this third group of FYLPro delegates took place between March 2 and May 25.  Among the criteria used to evaluate the applications were scholastic achievements; leadership skills; accomplishments, active involvement in school, civic, political, business and other organizations; and responses to a set of essay questions.

Serving as the program’s partner in the Philippines is the Ayala Foundation, which provides crucial logistical assistance.

The cost of the participants’ airfare, local transportation and accommodations will be funded by several corporate sponsors, including Philippine Airlines and Chevron.

Below are brief profiles of the 2014 FYLPro delegates.


Edward Aparis – Chula Vista, California.  Edward works as a consultant at the Strands Group, which is involved in project management, grant writing and public affairs consulting.  After graduating from the University of California, Riverside, he was involved with the Southwest Center for Asian Pacific American Law in San Diego.  He then served on the organizing committee for the Filipino American Arts & Culture Festival and later co-founded and helped spearhead the “Civic Education & Policy Advocacy Network,” known as CEPA Net, which along with the Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO) in San Diego, raises civic awareness and engagement in the Filipino-American and larger Asian American communities.

Ryyn Chua – Gardena, California.  Rynn is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Double Y Entertainment, an events management firm, while at the same time pursuing his MBA at Pepperdine University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.  He was a social worker at the APAIT Health Center, board member of the LA County Prevention Planning Committee, and later employed at the US Center for Disease Control and the Associations of Schools of Public Health in Atlanta, Georgia.  From social work and public health, he became involved with the Filipino Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles.  Ryyn graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University in Long Beach.

Rommel Clemente – Milpitas, California.  Rommel is a supervising senior associate for the Connor Group, an IPO, M&A and technical accounting consulting firm in the Bay Area.  On the non-profit side, he started his career with AmeriCorps and now sits on the board of directors of Lauren’s 4 House for Positive Change, which serves to empower disadvantaged youth in Palo Alto.  His involvement with the Filipino-American community includes his participation in the Filipino American Association of Certified Public Accountants.  Rommel graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington with a double major in Accounting and Philosophy and a Minor in Applied Mathematics.

Adette Contreras – Brooklyn, New York. Adette is creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi and co-founder and partner at Tinsel & Twine, a design shop.  At the advertising agency, she leads a team for international marketing campaigns that focuses on philanthropic causes.  She has earned prestigious international creative awards for her digital work. Adette graduated magna cum laude from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, double major in International Business & Marketing and double minor in Spanish & Fine Arts.

Michael Dahilig – Lihue, Hawaii.  Michael currently serves as director at the Department of Planning at the County of Kauai in Hawaii, the youngest individual in the county to be appointed to that position.  He was formerly a Deputy County Attorney for the Kauai County.  He volunteers as legal counsel at the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Kauai Philippine Cultural Center and Honolulu Filipino Junior Chamber of Commerce.  He was also Vice Chair of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and a Board Member of the Sariling Gawa Youth Council.  Michael served in the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, where he graduated with a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and a BS with honors in Geology and Geophysics and minor in Political Science.

Rafael Diokno – Washington, D.C.  RJ, as he is known to friends, serves as project lead at SGT, Inc., a Maryland-based company that provides support in the areas of Engineering, Science, Project Management and Information Technology.  He is also Vice President of the Filipino Young Professionals (FYP) – DC, Board Member of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce (PACC) – DC, and Strategic Communications Chair for the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition (PHC).  RJ has an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an MS in Information Systems and BA in Psychology from George Washington University.

Abbey Eusebio – Lincolnwood, Illinois.  Abbey is a constituent advocate at the Office of US Representative Jan Schakowsky, directly assisting constituents of the 9thCongressional District with issues they have at various federal agencies.  She is also a Board Member of non-profit organization Childcare Network of Evanston and an alumna of the Evanston Community Foundation’s Leadership Evanston program.  She served as Vice Chair of the Illinois Chapter of NaFFAA.  Abbey graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia and also attended DePaul University.

Jan Paul Ferrer – Tinley Park, Illinois.  Jan Paul is associate vice president at Morgan Stanley.  He also serves as president of the Tinley Park Frankfort Rotary Club, where he oversees its daily operations and the delivery of its local projects.  He is also a member of the Philippine Engineer and Scientist Organization, 10,000 Kwentos at the Field Museum, UP Alumni Association of Greater Chicago, Filipino American Network, and International Society of Filipinos in Finance and Accounting.  Jan Paul graduated from Robert Morris University.

Ryan Letada – New York, New York.  Ryan is chief executive officer and co-founder of NextDayBetter Inc., a media platform that features inspiring Filipinos.  He established technology enterprises Catchafire and FeastOnGood and sits on multiple non-profit advisory boards, including #VivaManila and UniPro.  After graduating from Wheaton College, Ryan was awarded a Fullbright Fellowship to explore sustainable city design, and mass eviction and relocation of urban poor communities in the Philippines.  He also co-founded and became executive director of eKindling, a Philippine-based non-profit dedicated to bringing laptops and new ways of digital learning to rural classrooms and communities across the Philippines.

Jason Tengco – Washington, DC.  Jason is senior advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, where he leads the Initiative’s community engagement.  He was an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Fellow at the Office of US Congressman Mike Honda and a Tam Tran Program and Outreach Fellow at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO.  He is also the community affairs director of Jeepney Hub, a non-profit website dedicated to helping Filipino American youth with career development.  Jason graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in B.A. Political Science (American Politics) and Minor in Public Affairs.

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TAGS: Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr., Consul Emilio Fernandez, fellowships, Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro), leadership program, Philippine Embassy, Philippine heritage
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