JERSEY CITY, NJ – In a room regularly used by the Philippine American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM) for its meetings at the University Charter High School on West Side Avenue, members elected their 2018 executive officers. Linda Rupel, president-elect; Lea Frain, secretary; Perla Candeleria, treasurer; and Pilar Monje, auditor. Together with Lito Pernia as president, their term of office will commence on January 1, 2018.
There were no other candidates besides those that were elected. In the absence of an opposition, an election by acclamation could have been used instead whereby a candidate is considered elected without the use of a ballot but by a voice vote. Members, however, were still required to cast a ballot. Each candidate was also called to speak before the general membership.
“We want to formalize this process as required in our bylaws,” said Ledy Almadin, nominating and election committee chair. Almadin was president in 2016.
Rupel previously served as president in 2008, during which time the festival celebration was cancelled due to a tropical storm that prevented the organization to hold the traditional parade.
“I am not new to this organization and I will do the best that I can to serve,” Rupel said in accepting her nomination. By the time Rupel takes over as president in 2019, she said she would have retired from her work. “I will be able to focus solely in having a grand PAFCOM celebration.”
As president-elect, she will be a member of the executive committee and also oversee the strategic planning committee.
Pernia, who hails from New Milford, New Jersey, is the chief executive officer with the power to appoint, with the approval of the board of directors, the chairs of standing and special committees, except for committees specified in PAFCOM’s constitution and bylaws. He succeeds Rose Javier, 2017 president.
Pernia has been a member for about six years. He has been involved in the cultural committee, particularly as parade coordinator, for three years before he was elected president-elect in 2016.
The president-elect position is one of the new provisions in PAFCOM’s new constitution and bylaws which was ratified by members in September 2014. PAFCOM has not amended its bylaws since 2003. PAFCOM’s Committee on Bylaws, then-chaired by Dr. Connie Uy, recommended changes. Uy was subsequently elected as chair of the board of directors in 2016.
According to Almadin, PAFCOM “has a new organization structure and governance to deliver PAFCOM’s vision and mission” and to bring it at par with the challenges of the 21st century.
Some of the changes in its bylaws include:
- a conflict of interest clause
- designating an executive committee to oversee operational activities (composed of the president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer, auditor and public relations officer)
- designating a board of directors as the governing and policy-making body composed of 15 members (executive officers, committee chairs and advisory board members)
- designating an advisory board to give advice and consultation upon a written request (composed of past overall chairs and past presidents appointed by the incumbent president)
In the past, lines of responsibility and accountability were not clearly defined.
Not the same as PIDCI
Unlike the Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) in New York, which has organizations as members, PAFCOM has individual members. In 2015, its membership rose to 90 but dipped to less than 30 paid members during the election on October 18. Also, unlike PIDCI, which commemorates independence day (1st Sunday of June), PAFCOM celebrates Philippine American Friendship on the 3rd or 4th Sunday of June. The Philippines used to observe Independence Day on July 4 until it was changed to June 12.
As part of its mission, PAFCOM runs several community and social services geared towards the elderly (senior citizens), government involvement and participation (Fil-Am Vote, soup kitchen), youth programs (basketball, Filipino school), and health fitness awareness programs (Zumba and Yoga).
In June 2018, PAFCOM will be continuing a legacy of holding its annual 28th Philippine-American Friendship Day celebration in Jersey City. It will feature decorated floats and cars during the parade , folk dancing, traditional and contemporary music, regional cuisine and local talent.
PAFCOM was founded in 1989 by Lito Gajilan, publisher of Filipino Express newspaper and owner of RTA Travel New Jersey.