Young Fil-Am leaders’ PH immersion program welcomes applicants
WATCH: Philippine Ambassador to the US and FYLPRO founder, Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. during his keynote speech last May 18 at the non-profit’s reception and 2016 immersion program’s info session. HIYASMIN QUIJANO
LOS ANGELES – President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, may be among key officials that a select delegation of young Filipino American community leaders will meet during their “immersion” trip to the Philippines.
Officers of the Filipino American Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) floated that possibility during an information session about its 2016 exposure program. The gathering also honored Ambassador Jose Luis Cuisia Jr. and Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim at Los Angeles City Hall’s Tom Bradley Tower on May 18.
FYLPRO, along with the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, organizes dialogs between the visiting youths and top Filipino public officials and civic leaders. Hundreds of Filipino American youths apply each year for a chance to join the immersion program. The organization has produced 40 alumni since its inception in 2012.
Ambassador Cuisia noted that FYLPRO is one of the most worthwhile aspects of his deployment to the United States. It helps build leaders that are recognized in US society but also proud of their Filipino heritage, he noted.
Consul Herrera-Lim stated, “In the past six years I have seen this generation trying to understand what it means to be Filipino. I think our community is on the move in the right direction.”
The program will select 10 Fil-Am youth leaders 25 to 40 years old with strong leadership qualities and work experience as participants in the weeklong immersion in the Philippines in November 24-December 2 immersion trip.
During the week, leaders will meet with key officials in the Philippines to learn about its social, economic and political landscape.
“We like to stay relevant and push the envelope, be edgy and challenge what is traditional,” stated FYLPRO President Bea Rico while introducing the program’s objectives.
Ryyn Schumacher, an alumnus, enthusiastically encouraged potential applicants in the audience, “FYLPRO is something you take with you. Create your visions for your future. You need to care for what you do. Catalyze what you have potential for!”
Since Schumacher’s immersion experience, he has gone on to help implement several projects, such as sending up-to-date books in Zamboanga, pushing for HIV awareness and partnering with the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation in the United States.
“The organization is run by volunteering, we’re not getting paid to do this,” clarifies Bea Rico. FYLPRO is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Importance of engagement
Another alumnus, Alex De Ocampo, added, “This opportunity changed my life, it made me learn the connection as a Filipino.”
“We need a lot of people to be able to put their heads together, have a common purpose, to be able to solve those problems,” said City of Artesia Mayor Victor Manalo, stressing the importance of civic engagement.
Jessica Caloza, FYLPRO alumna and policy analyst for LA Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, noted, “Being in rooms where policy is discussed, seeing how few people look like us and how important that is, we must make sure we develop our pipeline, both in the public sector and private sector because we need to speak for our community.”
The program will continue on for the next three years with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between FYLPRO and Ambassador Cuisia.
FYLPRO’S board of directors includes: Chairperson Maria Katrina “Kit” Zulueta (Hawaii); Treasurer Rommel Deleon Clemente (California); Philippine Embassy Vice-Consul Darell Arates (District of Columbia); JR Calanoc (California); RJ Diokno (Washington D.C.); Ty J.K. Cullen (Hawaii); Melissa Medina (Washington D.C.); Lakhi Mangharam Siap (Chicago); and Mariana Zobel de Ayala (Philippines). FYLPRO President Bea Rico (Washington) also sits on the board as a non-voting member. FYLPRO’s founders are Ambassador and Mrs. Cuisia.