By Alma Kern
For Northwest Asian Weekly
We are at a pivotal juncture in the history of our beloved Filipino Community of Seattle. Whatever happens this year will determine the future of the organization. Our manongs and manangs, and all the past leaders and longtime members of the FCS have left us a significant and memorable legacy: the Filipino Community Center. We have to continue that legacy and also leave our own lasting footprint in the history of our FCS, so that the future generations of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the State of Washington can be proud of their community and their heritage. For the past five years, the FCS has been planning to build a $20 million facility in the back of the Filipino Community Center. It will be a four-story building with more than 70 units of affordable housing for seniors and small families. It will contain amenities for residents such as parking, a commercial kitchen, a dining room, a rooftop garden, and a reception area. On the first floor will be a state-of-the-art Innovation Learning Center for our robotics and computer literacy classes for our youth and seniors. This is a huge project, one that will require that WE ALL STAY UNITED AND SUPPORT THE PROJECT.
It was the same unity and the same support that the administration of FCS President Major Urbano Quijance and FCS Vice-President Ricardo Farinas were able to purchase the old bowling alley in 1965 which then became the now famous Filipino Community Center. It is the same level of commitment, trust, and involvement that the then members of the FCS donated, raised funds, and participated in the activities so that the monthly mortgage could be paid.As I wind up my administration, which ends on December 31, 2014, I want you all to stay committed to the vision and mission of the FCS. The FCS has changed since its founding in 1935. Its focus is no longer a social club, but a vibrant nonprofit organization that is capable of providing services to the seniors, recent immigrants, and youth. It is no longer an internally-focused Filipino organization, but an outward-looking organization that has established close ties with several government and private entities. The FCS now has a seat at the table of power. We receive long-deserved funding, which is due us as loyal taxpayers. Our programs and activities have attracted a new and young cohort of participants. For example, a group of young, second generation Filipino professionals, who are lawyers, city employees, nonprofit managers and executive directors, have offered their time and energy to FCS outreach efforts. Our Kalahi dance troupe is also composed of kids and their parents who enjoy learning about the culture of their ancestors, especially, the art of dancing. It is apparent that as the demographics and needs of the Filipino Community of Seattle are changing, FCS’s internal organizational structure, financial system, and leadership succession protocol, also change. For this reason, the Board this year, amended the FCS bylaws. The method for selecting the FCS officers will rest on the FCS Board. The reasons are varied, as follows:
To make smooth the transition from one administration to another;
To show the world that the FCS is a sustainable nonprofit, service-oriented organization composed of board members and officers who are truly qualified and not just “popular”;
To instill a mindset in the community that the FCS is service-oriented, not politically motivated;
To minimize chaos, name-calling, and all the bad behavior that comes with FCS elections;
To give a chance to young, emerging leaders who will not or cannot participate as candidates in a general election, to be community leaders through a less political process;
To ensure continuity, stability, and predictability in the selection of FCS officers;
To assure our funders that we are serious when we establish a funding relationship with them.
We cannot turn back the clock. We have to trust that the FCS Board will make important decisions based on what is best for the Filipino community and not based on self-serving purposes of individuals. We shall continue the values which we hold dear to our Filipino hearts- community service and helping each other out.
It was an honor to serve you all and I will continue supporting the FCS in other ways. I want to continue building a community. (end)
Alma Kern is the former president of the Filipino Community of Seattle.