Welcome ConGen Hellen Barber de la Vega
Ports o' Call, San Pedro, CA
February 15, 2013
"There is a sense of comfort level on why different cultures converge in America". - Consul General Hellen Barber de la Vega.
Networking with community leaders to welcome the new Consul General Hellen Barber de la Vega was a privilege as editors of BisayaBulletin.com joined the inner circle in partaking the Consul's advocacy to unify the Filipino Americans as biggest ethnic group in Asia Pacific. Her previous assignments were in Myanmar and Beijing and this year as a kick-off to her new assignment in Los Angeles was celebrated with a sumptuous dinner at the Port O'Call Waterfront Dining Restaurant in San Pedro, CA.
Whether we are a first generation, second, or third we always have that one foot that points back to our grass roots. This was the gist of the community gathering in its goal to strategize, strengthen, and demonstrate various mentoring programs in propagating Filipino Associations to unify the silent voice of the Filipino American community.
Filipinos are the largest ethnic group in the US with a census of about 4 million compared to the Chinese at 3.5 million. Yet we are the silent minority. Our challenge is to convince the local community to invest in Filipino leadership and be represented by a unified voice. With all the various organizations in the US, majority of which are represented by hometown alumni and service associations whom are not cohesive and challenged to define the fabric that represents the intelligence of our professionals in this community.
In Southern California, sadly there isn't a single organization in unison with other locals sharing the same goal, and the Consulate office attends the various functions of these associations to identify and mine the leaders in bringing out a common agenda. As in any Filipino culture, comfort level is the starting point for communities to connect and one of the biggest challenge is to stimulate a coalition and plant a seed to unify the silent voice of Filipinos.
Other leaders in attendance were Linda Nietes, Philippine Expressions Bookshop; Darwin Rodriguez, President of the Blue Eagle Circle Alumni Association of the Ateneo University; Luz Bag-aw, Director of Social Services of the Martin Luther King Hospital; Marilyn Bellos of Gawad Kalinga; Rosa Wee, Head of the UCLA Mentoring Program for Fil-Am graduates; and other guests - Mariza Cordeta, Manuel Ybiernas, Mary Martin, and Robert Little.
In retrospect, Filipino-Americans represented by various organizations are so diversified and truly a fabric in the making to represent a common goal and bring out the voice in us.
Welcome, Consul Hellen Barber de la Vega!