NEW YORK – On October 7, 2017, about 98 member-organizations will go to the polls and elect a president and 7 board members. Three candidates are contesting the presidency and sixteen contenders are vying for a board of director seat.
Raul Estrellado, Comelec chair, said that probably, this year’s elections has the largest number of candidates wanting to be a board member in PIDCI’s history. Also, unlike in the past, there are challengers who have opted to run on their own instead of being beholden to a particular slate of a presidential hopeful.
Some people see this sudden interest as an “awakening” of the community to improve or make the 15-year-old organization fair and transparent in all its administrative and operational activities. Even the Filipino American Press Club of New York (FAPCNY) is now active in raising concerns brought to their attention by the community. It is holding a PIDCI Candidates Forum on September 26 at Dahon, 4310 52nd St., Woodside, NY 11377, (near the old Payag Restaurant) to ask candidates their motivation to run for office as well as their goals if they were elected into office.
To provide the community and PIDCI member-organizations a profile of presidential candidates, one of whom will eventually lead the organization, the Philippine Daily Mirror has sent a set of questions to them; namely: Olivia “Ollie” David, Antero “Ner” Martinez and Isagani “Gani” Puertollano. These three nominees have been active in PIDCI for many years, having been elected or appointed in one capacity or another.
Puertollano, a PIDCI president twice, re-surfaced this year and threw his hat into the ring again. David is an outgoing board director and Martinez, the current executive director. Puertollano did not have a role in PIDCI for almost 10 years. Unlike David and Martinez, Puertollano failed to send his response despite two telephone calls and an email.
A deadline was given to these nominees to submit their responses. The purpose was to test how quick they will react to unexpected questions raised before them. These days, where PIDCI is expected to transform, evolve, accelerate and manage its resources effectively, a PIDCI leader is expected to respond to challenging issues promptly, communicate his or her vision clearly and exercise his leadership effectively.
The Philippine Daily Mirror used the term “Seven-Up Qs” to refer to questions (Q) asked of each candidate. Here are the answers of Antero “Ner” Martinez (N) and Olivia “Ollie” David (O):
Leadership and Goal
Question 1 (Q1): How would you describe yourself as a leader? What is your vision of PIDCI? What is your goal?
Ner (N): I am a hardworking, goal oriented, enthusiastic and positive leader, I am hands on and I believe I possess the integrity and experience to harness and catalyze the cooperation of the team.
My vision is to make PIDCI “the” organization of choice that sets the pace and the tone of the Philippine American community in the Northeast – and serves as the model for all other Independence celebrations in other parts of the world.
Ollie (O): As a leader, I describe myself as someone who is visionary and who makes an effort to get everyone united. We need someone who has a strong vision for PIDCI to even make it the best Fil-Am organization in the USA if not the best Fil-Am organization outside the Philippines.
Q2: What motivated you to run as president of PIDCI?
(N): Having volunteered for over 20 years and participating in various committees (practically all of them) as a member, co-chair, chair and as supervising director, I felt it was time to put all the training and knowledge learned to good use as the President. I would like to impart the knowledge to the other PIDCI leaders who will then take on the reins of the organization. Through the years the PIDCI is evolving and leveling up and I would like to see this pattern continue. The encouragement of friends, family and community to pursue the PIDCI Presidency has contributed a lot to my decision to run.
(O): I have served many years in PIDCI and I have gone through many things in the organization. I take it as a challenge to take higher responsibility, respond to a call for better leadership. What motivates me are things that can be done and how we can further our selfless interests for the organization’s ultimate success.
Q3: What changes in PIDCI, if any, would you do if elected President?
(N): The PIDCI I believe has done very well through the years, and I believe it has to continue to evolve and change with the times. I would improve the way information on PIDCI activities and events are disseminated – not only via traditional media, but through social media as well. I would increase focus on corporate sponsorships and target mainstream corporations as well. I would encourage activities that would involve the young professionals and the university crowd.
I would enforce stricter budget and financial monitoring measures and I would institute a project management, leadership and teamwork building workshop for the officers and committee chairpersons.
(O): There is a clear need to unite everybody and re-invite past member organizations, which for the longest time have not renewed membership. I would say that if we reinforce strong membership base, we could achieve even greater success. Right now, too many organizations are not active within our base.
Q4: What do you think is the public perception of PIDCI in a positive way? Negative way?
(N): Public perception is very subjective and I believe the general public is quite happy with the way the celebration is being executed and done. I have heard and read comments that compared to other celebrations, the NY celebration is by far the most festive and largest they have seen. On the opposite end, I have heard that some have complained that there was nothing new, the parade was too long, the street fair food was not up to par, and they could not get near the “stars”. Again, perception is subjective.
(O): People think and believe that PIDCI is powerful in bringing together Filipinos as one, which holds the greatest privilege to conduct events in attainment of its key activities and goals. PIDCI enjoys massive attention and recognition from every Filipino in New York Tristate and even in the whole USA. However, on the negative side, I feel that others believe that they were left out and have not had the opportunity to take part of the affairs of this great organization. We should work on inclusion and participation of everybody who can be volunteers or active participants of our events.
Q5: Have you received the latest financial statement of PIDCI? If not, why not?
(N): The Treasurer resigned in February of this year, and thus, an audit was conducted. I have not seen the financial report yet. The audit results have been presented to the lawyers for further review. And because there are legalities involved we are not free to further discuss. Our Treasurer will have an updated financial report at the Annual election meeting.
(O): Sadly, the financial statements have not been available. There have been requests to it but for some reasons it has not become available. We have long demanded for it.
Q6: Do you think there is/was malfeasance in the way PIDCI finances are/were handled?
(N): Based on what was reported at the Board Meeting, there was a resignation (an Executive Committee position) – and thus an audit was performed. The findings of the audit were such that legal proceedings have been initiated. Because there are legal issues involved, the PIDCI, its Board and Officers are cautioned not to speak about it.
(O): If balance sheets could not be balanced, it simply means the debit/credit ratio is unbalanced.
Sad to say that this has happened to the organization. Investigation is ongoing. I think the finances of PIDCI should have close monitoring and regular check and balance with the ins and outs of the finances, disbursements and even collectibles from sponsors and other revenues.
Q7: How would you handle conflict within the organization?
(N): Conflict or disputes can be handled with open communication. First is to get the sides to discuss and actively listen without interruption. Then, review the options and how to resolve the conflict and the ultimate goal is to come up with a solution that benefits both sides to a certain extent.
(O): I propose for the creation of a committee known as “Organizational Order” Committee that will handle conflicts in the organization. When PIDCI was incorporated until now we have not foreseen a need for such a committee until recently. The creation of the said committee will handle internal and external conflicts and complaints, which will be resolved through a committee decision.
Related Story: PIDCI releases official list of 2017 candidates; enjoins members to vote Oct. 7.