I am proud to make the announcement that The Filipino-American Association of Greater Atlanta will be in existence for 45 years in 2019. 45 years!! It is the longest surviving Filipino organization in Georgia. Its long existence would not be possible without an impressive number of leaders and volunteers who dedicated their time and effort to serve this organization. Among us is Ely Abellera, one of the founders and first president. Thank you! And I am pretty sure that over half of the guests here have served, in one way or another, either as an officer or a volunteer. Let us give them a big hand. Thank you!
When I retired at the beginning of this year, I had big plans to go back to the music stage full time. I actually have one upcoming concert on January 26 in Vancouver. But I did not foresee myself to be standing here before you, delivering another inaugural speech after 10 years!
During the 2008 elections, there was an embarrassing situation I will never forget. Willy Blanco was conducting the election process. He was going through position after position until it came finally to the last one, the president. He called out my name. And as I stood there, I was thinking, ok, this process should be over soon. Willy asked, “Are there any other nominations from the floor?” Silence ensued. And then out of the blue, someone raised their hand. Willy and I exchanged looks because we both realized whose hand it was. Oh boy, Impending trouble coming. This woman is known to say anything about everything with no fear, no filter, no shame. She came up and took control of the mic. Straight to the point, she said, “You know that Marites is known to be “suplada.” I almost choked and told myself, this is it, this is the end of me. But somehow there was some truth to it, and I did not deny it. And then she followed it up with, “But if you come to know her, she really is not. She is very nice.” Whew, I took a deep breath and hugged her. She turned out to be one of my most loyal supporters. She reminded me this past Christmas to not be “suplada” and not raise my eyebrow.
Now, I’m back, 10 years younger, but 10 years more mature. And very much attuned to this job. I would very much like to see this Association flourish and continue to be alive for another 45 years and more. And to make this happen, we need to be an Association living in the now and be appealing to our younger demographic because they are our future. It is up to us to hand off the reigns to them to keep Fil-Am alive and thriving.
We have a new website that is fresh, user friendly, informative and engaging. You will be able to renew your membership, review and register for our upcoming events and read interesting articles. It will launch hopefully the first week of January. So be on the lookout. Thanks to Pauline Pellicer, who volunteered and dedicated her time to create an exciting website.
Our communication to our members and prospective members needs to be consistent across all channels, such as email and Facebook.
Our membership benefits will be reinstated. We will offer discounts to events and local stores and restaurants. We already have several establishments who offered to give discounts to our paid members with the proof of membership.
As we make this huge transition, we ask for your patience.
And of course, we want to make sure our Filipino heritage and traditions are not lost. We will hold several cultural events throughout the year to celebrate where we came from.
These are very big goals that I cannot fulfill without the help of my team. They are the most trusting, loyal and supportive group of people, not to mention the best of the best - Manoling, Pauline, Bud and Erica, and I am very lucky to have all of them at my side. In fact, when I approached one of them be part of my team, she said,“I know how much you love Fil-Am. Can’t say no to that.” I was deeply touched. Realization sank in that indeed this organization, this Association, has been a very special part of me. I am now more determined to keep Fil-Am alive. I ask that you all join me on this journey. And I promise not to raise my eyebrow but I cannot promise not to raise the other one.
2019 Fil-Am President