Fil-Am history conferees celebrate ‘togetherness’
SAN DIEGO, California–Some 500 Filipino American history buffs, activists and academics convened July 31 to August 2 at the Kona Kai Hotel and Resort in Shelter Island for the Filipino American National Historical Society’s 2014 conference.
Of special attention was the Wednesday evening memorial tribute to FANHS co-founder “Uncle” Fred Cordova who passed away peacefully at 82 on December 21, 2013.
The conference theme was KAPWA: Moving Forward in Unity, with kapwa, meaning “togetherness,” as the “core construct” of Filipino psychology. Kapwa refers to community; not doing things alone.
Plenary Keynote speakers and programs,= included, Dr. Leny Strobel, Ret. Army Major General Antonio Taguba, Dr. Connie Mariano, and the screening of “Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the UFW” with filmmaker Marissa Aroy, Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Johnny Itliong.
A cross-generational spread of participants and topics was apparent in the panels, workshops and roundtables, all reflecting the Filipino experience in America, from the first Filipino American organization founded in New Orleans to the “Empire of Funk: Hip Hop Representation in Filipina/o America.”
Remie Estepa Brown, a founding member of the first Filipino American student organization (1971) at San Diego State University, MATAPANG, a first time FANHS conference attendee felt that it was so important to be able to disseminate the history of Filipinos.
She recalled the role of MATAPANG in visiting the UFW manongs in Agbayani Village, starting the community based San Diego Project Bayanihan and an early 1970s controversial “Miss Philippines Contest” where young Filipinas chastised the older generation for not taking up the real community issues and problems they faced.
Felix Tuyay, professor at Southwestern College for 37 years, FANHS presenter and coauthor of Filipinos in San Diego, felt a strong FANHS camaraderie and appreciated the sharing of their rich stories.
Tuyay was concerned that the current students still need to learn about what his generation had accomplished as community and student activists. But he was encouraged by what FANHS has done, particularly in achieving the wide recognition of October as Filipino American History month.
As part of the conference planning, Tuyay also recognized the leadership of Judy Patacsil, Tina Barlolong, Herb Delute and Steve Yagyagan. Major conference sponsors were, Gawad Kalinga (GK) USA, Operation Samahan, Inc, AARP, Dr. Dario & Dr. Tess Villa, Filipino American Development Initiatives (FADI) and Ramar Foods.
The Gala Banquet, which traditionally signals the end of the biennial conferences, was highlighted by by the first time joint performances of the two outstanding cultural folk dance groups in San Diego, PASACAT – Philippine Performing Arts Company and Samahan Philippine Dance Company, both accompanied by the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble.
Dr. Eleanor Concepcion “Connie” Mariano who served as the White House physician for three presidents enthralled the GALA attendees with stories of her growing up in San Diego and inspiring career journey.
As an added post conference special event, a Filipino American Psychology Forum took place on Sunday, August 3, to address history research and clinical practice issues, as well as updates on colonial mentality, body image, transnational parenting, as well as learning about different types of racial and sexual orientation, micro aggressions and skills to deal effectively with them.
The next FANHS conference is planned for New York in 2016.
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