US Rep. Grace Meng installs NaFFAA New York 2020 leaders

by Ricky Rillera

NEW YORK – This is the best of times, the worst of times. “Life goes, even in time of COVID, Consul General Claro S. Cristobal said.

Describing what true leadership is about, Cristobal delivered a message to leaders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) – New York before they were inducted into office, May 16, over a new method of getting things done these days — through virtual “reality” — a first in NAFFAA’s 23-year history. And without the social interaction of people that usually characterize Filipino events, the ceremony concluded in record time — 30 minutes.

Cristobal quoted Winston Churchill who famously said, “If you are going through hell, keep going,” and added his own thoughts. “Hell is no place to stop, no place to stand still because to stop is not an option,” he said. “And while in hell, you don’t have a scenery to enjoy. You cannot be a spectator; you either are a participant or just watching the rest of world go by.”

(From left) Carrisa Villacorta, NaFFAA executive director; Brendan Flores, NaFFAA national president and chair; Consul General Claro S. CristobalLaura Garcia, chair, NaFFAA-New York; Jan Andrada, treasurer, NAFFAA-New York; and, Aida Navidad Rivera, NaFFAA national treasurer at an event at the Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center.   |  Facebook

Laura Garcia (Photo by Troy Santos)

The consul general valued the partnership his office has with NaFFAA and thanked the incoming officers, led by Laura Garcia, that despite these extra-ordinary times, they accepted the challenge of serving and the responsibility expected of their jobs. “This is most laudable,” he said.

This is the second term of Garcia as chairman of NaFFAA-New York. She served her first in 2018 during which the Ten Outstanding Fathers of the Year Award was launched at the Double Tree Hotel during their installation. Jan Andrada, treasurer, and the host of the virtual meet-up, said that “it did not stop them from finding ways” to hold an event this year despite the current situation.

Grace Meng, an American lawyer and politician serving as a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, representing New York’s 6th congressional district in New York City, inducted the new slate of officers: Laura Garcia, chairperson; Steve Van Derodar, vice-chair; Derrick Hidalgo, secretary; Jan Andrada, treasurer; Rachelle Ocampo, executive director; Marilyn Abalos, director of media communications; and, Angie Cruz and Joseph Ramos; executive advisers. Steven Raga, a member of the NaFFAA’s national board of governors, invited Meng.

Meng, an advocate of Filipino causes, particularly Filipino veterans’ initiatives. announced that the House has passed legislation into the night, Friday May 16, which “will hopefully go towards providing funds to healthcare workers and to many people who “sorely needs help from the American government.”

“I am honored to join you today, these are unprecedented times,” Meng told the 22 participants of the virtual meeting which included NaFFAA’s national president and chair, Brendan Flores, and some community leaders. She noted the service of Filipino nurses in the front lines saving lives in this pandemic.

With a bit of awkwardness in having the inductees take their oath in an unusual manner, Meng smiled and proceeded to administer the affirmation of their respective office.

She also thanked the consulate in engaging Filipinos “civically and looking-out for the best interests of Filipino Americans.”

Rep. Grace Meng (File Photo)

Garcia said that NaFFAA-New York will bolster its mission and are more energized to promote the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans. “We will continue to partner with diverse groups and community organizations in supporting matters that are currently the priorities: healthy priority – both physical and mental, educational concerns, fragile economy and human rights,” Garcia said, “including the Census 2020.”

She also called upon the community “to unite to weaken the virulence of this disease by continuing to comply with the CDC health guidelines,” and prevent the resurgence of COVID-19, especially with the reopening of businesses and schools. “We know that handwashing and face coverings work.”

"We must amplify our voices to help our communities to fight against discrimination. We are fighting an unseen enemy. We are not the enemy, we must find the solution, not the blame."

Garcia further encouraged the community that as “people of faith and moral courage, we must amplify our voices to help our communities to fight against discrimination. We are fighting an unseen enemy. We are not the enemy, we must find the solution, not the blame,” she declared. “Let us eliminate hate and spread love. Love conquers all, even the coronavirus, and when we have done that, we shall have succeeded.”

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