Pilipinas eNewsletter - Oct. - Dec. 2023

Vol 2. I3

NaFFAA Stages a Successful Senior Pageant

By Arcie Gemino

Following in its footsteps after more than 25 years in hiatus, the Ms. Senior Philippines of Michigan formerly held by the Senior Citizens of Metro Detroit in the 90’s was revived by NAFFAA on October 28, 2023. Though the 2 pageantries were held in different formats, both sought the participation of spirited ladies determined to carry on with the objective for which the pageant was intended. NAFFAA took on the challenge to help raise finances to support the expenses for the structural repairs of the newly acquired PACCM building. It successfully achieved the purpose

It’s history now, but the pageant garnered rave reviews from the guests who attended the event and went on to be further cheered and applauded by others who had glimpses of the competition through social media. It was an outcome that astonished everyone and extremely delighted the candidates and the committee for the hard work everybody put in to make it a triumphant venture.

Months of planning and practice went into this event to ensure a good turnout and all those involved in this undertaking did not disappoint. There was great collaboration from start to finish. The repertoire included an opening dance with the candidates in their inspired patadyong costumes to the music of a dance called the Filipino Medley.  Then the candidates introduced themselves in their specially chosen Filipiniana outfits. The third segment featured them in their talent performances of songs, dances, and floral arranging demonstrations. This was followed by the showcasing of their elegant evening gowns in a choreographed fashion walk. The final portion of the competition was the interview where each candidate was asked questions to gauge their abilities to express their thoughts and views on specific items of interest the judges thought would evoke their intellectual input. Amazingly all 5 candidates did well in all the categories of the competition. But in the final run, the choice would end up with the final 2 candidates who scored almost neck and neck. The Awards Ceremony declared the winning title of Ms. Senior Philippines to Nenita Tio who was also the winner of the Philanthropic Award, Best in Talent, and Best in Gown. Liwayway Vargas was runner-up -up and the Most Photogenic award went to Josie Sanders. Special awards were given to Ofelia Solarte as Ms. Luzon, Adelina Navarre as Ms. Visayas, and Josie Sanders as Ms. Mindanao

The pageantry was made possible under the auspices of the following team from NAFFAA: President Amy Risvold, Event Chairperson Trinie Alair, Co-Chairs Ellen Laboga and Boots Gabarda, and Pageant Director Arcie Gemino with the help of emcee Rob Dionisio and other board members who assisted with various tasks. The judges were selected from various professions; there was a judge, a businesswoman, and a lawyer. Indeed, it was an undertaking worth pursuing considering the pre-conceived notion that elderly folks’ limitations due to age might impede achieving the desired success. This notion was proven wrong because there were many desirable outcomes resulting from the big guest attendance, great support with tickets, ads, and sponsorship and most valuable of all, the manifestation of tenacity, great resolve, and strong resolute the candidates demonstrated throughout the long process of planning, preparing and executing the incredible tasks set before them.

Underprivileged families benefit from Kiwanis giving

By Arcie Gemino

Food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and faith groups offer Thanksgiving meals. Support is available for anyone who needs help putting food on the table during the holidays. The Kiwanis Club of Cosmopolitan Detroit (KCCD) supports this kind of giving.

On November 21, 2023, the Kiwanis team led by President LenLen Jenks, Secretary Jeff Jenks, K-Kids Advisor Arcie Gemino, and Interclub Chair Al Thompson trekked to McGlinnen Elementary School in Clinton Twp to distribute complete Thanksgiving meals to disadvantaged families who otherwise have nothing to put on their tables. President LenLen did a lot of grocery shopping as she had done in the past to share not only with McGlinnen School families but with other poverty-stricken people in other areas.

The K-Kids Club at McGlinnen School was initiated and established by myself in 2008 when I was the president of KCCD. The club gives elementary school students their first experiences organizing community events and projects that benefit others. It helps build self-esteem and moral character. The club is open to kids 6-11 years old who want to provide service to others.

Currently, under the lead of LenLen Jenks whose heart and soul are imbedded in Kiwanis service, there are newly recruited members ready to take on the challenges of serving children’s needs. In the early part of winter, the KCCD team will return to the school to distribute dictionaries to the 3rd graders, a universal project most Kiwanis clubs undertake. Additionally, the students will also be receiving free new children’s books courtesy of Kiwanis No. 1 Club of Detroit to serve the literacy needs of children. The intent is for every child to own their books. The program gives away over 100,0000 books every year.

If you’re looking for an organization that is worth being part of, consider being in Kiwanis to help kindle the youth’s spirit!

PACCM Updates as of December 2023

By Rick Cruz & Tony Kho

Each person’s generosity goes a long way, so they say. Let me give you a recap of how PACCM utilizes every cent that you wholeheartedly donated.

  • The restoration is revamping up.
  • Most school lights have been upgraded to more efficient LEDs. 
  • The conversion of the Church’s Lighting to LED is in the process.
  • Network and phone systems are being restored or set
  • The gas has been turned on.
  • Gas Appliances are in the process of being restored or repaired
  • The old Boilers have been removed and the first of two is being installed
  • Installation of the boiler should be completed this week provided custom parts are fabricated in time.
  • The radiant heat systems must be tested, leaks if any have to be repaired before they can be connected to the boiler
  • Hopefully heat will be on next week.
  • Work on the flat roof or church roof as soon as permits are processed, material arrives, and weather permits.
  • Safety and quality of work is a high priority.
  • Weather is the biggest factor in determining how fast work is completed.
  • Once the boiler and roofs are repaired and funding is available, interior renovation can be started.
  • Currently, heat is available in the fellowship and food preparation area.
  • It requires about 35 minutes to get the Fellowship Hall Area temperature to a comfortable level and 20 minutes to get the Food Preparation Area to a comfortable level.
  • Once heating is available in the next few weeks, we could use help cleaning, sorting, storing, and disposing of items from various offices and spaces from the old building.
  • In as little as an hour you could make a significant contribution to getting the PACCM ready for the day we can move in.

Please contact Rick Cruz at 248-841-6321(temporary number) to schedule and know how you can help.  24-hour notice is required to allow us to ensure that we can accommodate your request

Paaralang Pilipino New Leadership

By Ruth Rush & April Karl

The PACCM Board meeting that was conducted last October 14 at the new PACCM Building in Lahser Road, Southfield saw a new breed of leaders for Paaralang Pilipino. With the current Paaralang Pilipino Director Salvador Jr. ‘Bads’ Pante stepping down from the position this year due to his postgraduate studies, the BOD appointed Ruth Rush as the new Paaralang Pilipino Administrator who will oversee the overall school operations. April Karl was appointed as the Administrative Support and in charge of co-administrative for the school education while James Wilson will continue to manage the development of the Filipino Youth Initiative (FYI) program.

Currently, Paaralan has active 14 volunteer teachers. Teachers April Karl and Anita Avila handle the Binhi Class (students aged 5 and below); teachers Jelaine Johnson and Gean Almendras teamed up to teach the Batibot Class (students aged 6 to 8). For the Bagets Class (students aged 9 to 12), we have the creative teachers Eileen Taay, Josie Palu-ay, and LenLen Jenks. Energetic teachers Cathy Javier and Leni Juco teach the Kabataan Class (students aged 13 to 17) while the Bayani Class (students aged 18 and above) are upskilled by teachers Tess Porcalla, James Wilson, Evelyn & Romy Alip, and Cesar Gemino.  These teachers specialized in Language or Wika, Arts & Craft, Filipino Youth Initiative, Music, and Dance.

For the first semester of the 2023-2024 school year, Paaralang Pilipino kicked off to a great start with a successful Open House at their temporary World Medical Relief (WMR) location in Southfield. The program continues to grow year after year with over 50 students ranging from 3 years old to adults participating in classes in Wika, Arts and Crafts, Dance, and Music. Along with their weekly classes, the volunteer-run program has been able to host celebrations such as the Halloween Trunk or Treat Celebration and Thanksgiving Kamayan-style celebration. We continue to provide these enriching activities through the generosity of our Filipino community and their leaders.

The first semester classes will be over soon. On December 10, Paaralan will celebrate the annual Pasko Party. For more details, please follow our Paaralan Facebook page on social media. Paaralan will open the second-semester enrollment in January 2024. The second-semester classes will run from January to April. Classes are open every Sunday from 1:00 to 4:30 pm at the World Medical Relief at 21725 Melrose Avenue, Southfield.

If you’re interested in enrolling your kids, please visit Paaralan on-site at WMR location on January 7, 14, 21, and 28 and look for Ruth and/or April.

Trunk or Treat 2023

By: Joseph Javier

On October 29th, PACCM-Paaralang Pilipino held its annual Halloween Trunk or Treat event at World Medical Relief (WMR) in Southfield, Michigan. Paaralan students and their families dressed up in their spookiest Halloween costumes and trick-or-treated in the parking lot of World Medical Relief. Families decorated their cars in various themes, including haunted houses, a giant spider web, and even a Pinoy Sari-sari store! Many thanks to FILAMCCO and the Kiwanis Club of Metropolitan Detroit for sponsoring this successful event and providing food and candy for those in attendance! 

KMNT Leaders Continue the Culture of Giving

By: Roger Palaganas

The Kiwanis Club of Metro North -Troy (KMNT) celebrated its 42nd inauguration on November 10 at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan with dinner and dancing. Kiwanis Michigan District Governor Renea Callery delivered the keynote speech and installed the incoming officers. The officers inducted included second termer President Lydia Palaganas, Lourdes Gungab as Vice President, Roger Dionisio as Treasurer, Nieves Camero as Assistant Treasurer, and Roger Palaganas as Secretary (his 2nd term).  The four new members inducted that evening included Frank Balagtas, Fabian Ramos, German Bautista, and Robert Seely.

Along with the dinner and dancing, special performances were provided by Robert Seely and Flor Sitchon. Robert sang a medley of songs by Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, and Louis Armstrong. Flor Sitchon was joined by Kiwanis Metro North Members and Friends to sing We Are the World.

During her speech, President Lydia Palaganas shared her heartfelt appreciation to the members for their unwavering commitment and dedication to the club. 

“Thank you to all our club members for making 2023 a successful year. The club hosted three events, including our annual golf outing, volunteering many hours for the World Medical Relief, Medical Mission, Kids Against Hunger food packaging, ushering monthly to the church, and others. I am proud of what our club has accomplished, and I am honored to lead the club again for a second term. I know with the passion and dedication of our club’s members; we will have another fantastic year. I hope to see the club continue to grow and flourish. We would like to invite community members to join us in our Kiwanis mission a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child, and one community at a time,” Palaganas mentioned in her speech.

Kiwanis is a non-profit organization. The Kiwanis Club of Metro-North Troy was established in 1981 by a group of Filipinos who came together to discuss how to give back to the community that welcomed and accepted them and their culture. Kiwanis Club of Metro-North Troy meets during the first and third Tuesday of each month at NONI’s GRILLE RESTAURANT at 6:30 pm in Troy. 

If you are interested in learning more about Kiwanis, please reach out to gillyp13@gmail.com

FILAMCCO Officers: Lead and Serve

By Sofia Espada Bole, RN

The Filipino American Community Council (FILAMCCO) elected new officers for 2024-2025, on November 11, 2023 for another two-year term. The induction of these new officers will be held on December 16 during the Rizal Day 2023 celebration.

The history of early elections dates back to ancient Greece since approximately 508 BC. They seem to have implemented the earliest form of democracy. To elect means to select or make a decision where leaders can share their ideas and opinions for good governance and project implementation. In the USA, the 26th (XXVI) Amendment was ratified on July 1, 1971. This lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years old. Elections empower the people and the communities we serve. Voters tend to have stronger social connections; build power and influence; and boost advocacy. Voter engagement work can help anyone advance their goal and live up to expectations dependent on missions and visions for advancing the welfare of the people or community being served.

This FILAMCCO service is voluntary with the preservation of the Filipino culture and sharing with our adopted country – USA. As a member of this FIL-AM organization, does create a bond of belonging and strong ties despite our different ethnic origins back home.

Composed of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is comprised of several cultural and social values inherent in each island. To unite, we were taught our national language the “Pilipino/Filipino language or Tagalog” to communicate easily with each other. Each island has its dialect in addition to the English language taught from elementary to college. We can say that when you meet Filipinos here in the USA, at least you can expect that they are either bilingual or trilingual: island dialect, Pilipino/Filipino, and English languages are spoken interchangeably.

Periodic elections like every two to four years, eliminate the issue of controlling leaders to dominate the direction of an organization. This enhances orderly succession planning and thus contributes to the continuation of democracy. Elections also serve a self-actualizing purpose by confirming the worth and integrity of individual citizens as human beings capable of reasoning power. Participation in an election serves to reinforce self-esteem and self-respect. Voting allows citizens to have their say, and self-expression and to satisfy the need to feel a sense of belonging.

Elected officers can reinforce the stability and legitimacy of the political process. It links citizens to each other and thereby confirms the viability of the member organization. There are different types of elections:

  1. Election of office holders – confer on a small group of officials the authority to make policy through laws and other devices on behalf of the electorate as a whole.
  2. Recall elections – the practice of recalling officeholders in an attempt to minimize the influence of political parties on representatives. Recall is designed in an attempt to ensure that an elected official will act in the interest of the people. The actual instrument of a recall is usually a letter of resignation signed by the elected representatives.
  3. Referendums and Initiatives – are elections in which the preferences of the community are assessed on a particular issue. Referendums and initiatives are initiated by groups of electors.
  4. Plebiscites – are elections held to decide two paramount types of political issues: government legitimacy and the nationality of territories contested between governments.

To all FILAMCCO Officers, keep shining. Thank you for your service to the community and for advancing the visibility of Filipinos and Filipino Americans! Mabuhay!

Ryan Rosario – President

Cesar Sumanting – Vice President

Rose Coagas – Corresponding Secretary

Meriam Stevens – Secretary

Jeff Vedua – Treasurer

Betsy Vincenzetti – Auditor

Arcie Gemino – PRO

Wilmar Suan – Immediate Past President

Fred Porte-Parliamentarian (non- board position)

Billie Go Belen – Board of Director

Sofy Bole– Board of Director

Victoria Bryan– Board of Director

Carmen Concepcion– Board of Director

Ellen Dioso– Board of Director

Corazon “Boots” Gabarda– Board of Director

Joevy Quitoriano-Hall–  Board of Director

Joyce Jamieson– Board of Director

Joseph Javier– Board of Director

Eleanor Jenks– Board of Director

Hilda Kittinger – Board of Director

Dr. Ernestina Mac – Board of Director

Lavinia Mateo – Board of Director

Nina McCaulley – Board of Director

Tess Porcalla – Board of Director

Ruth Rush – Board of Director

James Santos – Board of Director

Alford Thompson – Board of Director

Jeanette Tanafranca – Board of Director

Becky Tungol – Board of Director

James Wilson – Board of Director

Celebrating Christmas the Filipino Way

By: Roy Coloma

Christmas is the most festive season in the Philippines, and the celebration starts as early as September when Christmas lights and music start to appear, lasting till the first week of January for the feast of the Three Magi.  How do Filipinos celebrate Christmas? 

Caroling: Because I am into music, this is what comes to my mind first.  On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Philippines, revelers, young and old, go from house to house to sing carols and are rewarded with goodies or money. (like Trick or Treat on Halloween in the US). The songs vary from traditional classic carols like Silent Night to Filipino songs like Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit and popular songs like White Christmas (there is no snow in the Philippines!). Every Christmas I remember two eight-year-old boys singing the Elvis song I’ll Have a Blue, Blue Christmas Without You on Christmas Eve 1967 in our house in Laoag. Until now, I wonder why they chose to sing this song instead of the more age-appropriate Jingle Bells. Here in the US, we continue the tradition, of singing carols at our house during Christmas Eve and at Christmas parties throughout the season. https://www.facebook.com/541652853/videos/491690602610509/

Parols (Christmas Lanterns): Lanterns in the shape of a star that symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem are hung in houses and out in the streets. When I was growing up in the Philippines, we would make Parols using bamboo and colored paper. Nowadays, they are modernized (and commercialized) and have blinking electric lights. Two years ago, my daughter ordered a kit to make Parols from Amazon. The whole family got to experience a well-loved tradition and had a lot of fun making the Parols, which are now a part of our Christmas decorations. https://www.facebook.com/541652853/videos/10157497460487854/

Simbang Gabi: Starting on December 16, there is a series of nine daily masses (Novena) in Catholic Churches in the Philippines that are held before dawn. Many Filipinos attend them to express devotion and for spiritual preparation. After the mass, they would buy Christmas delicacies like Puto bongbong from street vendors. Here in Metro Detroit, KPPM is coordinating Simbang Gabi at St. Rene Catholic Church in Sterling Heights, and everyone is invited. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Ministry is also coordinating nine evening Simbang Gabi masses at St. Mary, Cause of Our Joy Catholic Church in Westland starting December 16 at 7 PM.

Noche Buena (Christmas Eve Celebration):  It is traditional for Filipinos to have a feast on Christmas Eve after the Midnight Mass. Food that is traditionally served includes Ham or Lechon (roast pig). Queso de Bolla, Arroz Caldo, grapes, apples, and chestnuts. Here in the U.S., family and friends get together on Christmas Eve at our house, to have dinner, sing Christmas Carols, attend Christmas Eve service, and exchange gifts. https://www.facebook.com/541652853/videos/10154039785907854/

Aguinaldo (Gift Giving): Gift-giving is a big part of the Christmas celebration. Families exchange gifts during Noche Buena and it is common practice for Filipinos to give small gifts at Christmas parties throughout the season. Children would visit their Godparents so they could receive their presents.

Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon!

Life in America: Filipino Cultural Traits I've Come to Appreciate

By: Roy Coloma

The United States is a nation of immigrants who come to live here for varied reasons. In recent years, many have come as refugees to escape conflict, war, or other humanitarian crises. Others come for political and religious freedom, to flee from political persecution or religious restrictions in their home countries. Filipinos mostly come for better economic opportunities (as they say, America is the land of opportunity), to further education, or to join family members who are already living here.

Regardless of their reasons for coming here, immigrants face many challenges like cultural adjustment, finding jobs in line with qualifications, discrimination and prejudice, loneliness, financial difficulties, and legal problems. How do we cope with these challenges? Like many of us “old timers”, I came here in the 70s, and looking back, I have come to appreciate many cultural traits from my Filipino heritage, that have helped me navigate through life in this country. Two of these characteristics that stand out for me are that Filipinos are very spiritual and very family-oriented. Spirituality is the focus of this feature article and family will be addressed in the next issue.

I believe that we Filipinos are deeply spiritual people. Roughly ninety percent of Filipinos are Christians and the rest practice other religions like Islam and Buddhism.  The Philippines is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia having been a Spanish colony for almost 400 years. Faith is an important and integral part of our daily lives, and this encourages us to be good. We pray when we have problems and difficulties and when we need guidance and direction. When our family and friends are sick, we pray for their healing. When our prayers are answered and we receive blessings like healing, a raise, or an honor, we thank God for making it happen.  We do not lose hope easily because we believe that with God’s help, we will eventually overcome, making us resilient

When I was growing up in the Philippines, my mother and grandmother would bless all the children in the house when they came home from church. I know my mother continued to pray for me when I first came to America as a student during the early seventies, the height of the hippie era and Vietnam War. Those were strange times like today when there were social unrest, frequent student and community demonstrations, drugs, and “anything goes”. My mother shared with me then that she saw in a dream, a huge snake coiled around my body trying to devour me. I know my mother’s unceasing prayers were instrumental in preventing bad things from happening to me.

Whenever Filipinos go to a new place, the first thing they would search for is the church. Many Filipinos are active in their home churches, singing in choirs and participating in other church ministries, joining prayer and bible study groups, sponsoring Filipino religious traditions like Flores de Mayo, Simbang Gabi, Sinulog, participating in devotions like Santo Nino, Family Rosary, San Lorenzo Ruiz and attending spiritual activities like retreats and conferences. Outside the church, our faith drives us to serve others by participating in Medical Missions and joining service organizations like Kiwanis, Lions, and Knights of Columbus. In the Metro Detroit area, we are actively engaged in these activities.

Community Calendar