Sunday, May 14, 2006

I walked 10K for FANHS-Sonoma County chapter yesterday. There were about a dozen of us from this newly-organized chapter and we raised about $3000 ($800 of that came from you -- so, thank you, dear pledgers!). The Human Race Sonoma County event is the largest of its kind in the U.S.-- yesterday, $1.1Million was raised by 10,000 walkers and runners for their favorite non-profit organization. The local FANHS chapter hopes to do better next year.

This brings me to the idea of community organizing and institution building. FANHS Sonoma County is a newly created 501-C3 nonprofit spearheaded by a group of second generation Fil Ams who were born in Sonoma County to parents who were mostly Manongs who intermarried with Mexicans and Native Americans. Since many of them are now retired, they want to devote their time to doing Oral History projects to document the presence of Filipinos in Sonoma County. Their parents were the pioneers who built the only Filipino Community Center in Sonoma County way before the 1965 FIl Am immigrants arrived in Sonoma County in droves.This Center is now an incorporated entity run by the newly arrived immigrants. FANHS wants to eventually get the Center designated as a historical cultural marker in Sonoma County. But first FANHS feels that there is a need for educational programs that would bridge the historical knowledge gap between the Manong generation and the immigrants, hence, the oral history projects.

Here's the irony: The FANHS chapter cannot hold its meetings at the Filipino Community Center without paying a rental fee of $125 each meeting(!!) because FANHS doesn't come under the umbrella of the Center. To come under the umbrella of the Center means to pay dues and be subject to its constitution and by laws.

MAny of the FANHS members are already individual dues-paying members of the Center. The creation of FANHS Sonoma County should be welcomed by the Center since FANHS is a nationally-recognized institution. For the Center to have a FANHS chapter within it is to expand its reach and horizon since local Centers tend to become ingrown over time. The Center is doing a good job of sustaining community locally but in all the years of its existence, it hasn't been linked to any national Fil Am instution -- neither NaFFaa or FANHS. So I would think that FANHS activities would be mutually beneficial to both groups.

There's a saying: Wherever you find two or three Filipinos, there is an association.. This comes from the tendency of factions to emerge whenever a group grows large enough and the maintenance and sustainability of a multitude of projects and goals can become difficult and tense. And perhaps, since we Pinoys tend to prefer harmony rather than confrontations, the recourse is to form a separate group. We have yet to learn how to form separate groups without altogether breaking ties with the group that we break away from.

In this sense, I think the money issue always serves as a convenient excuse. When the Center imposes a rental fee to FANHS meetings (because the constitution mandates it), nothing can be done until a constitutional amendment is made. What a way to create complications where there need not be! Ay sus!!

Anyway -- the walk was fun. Walkers who started to lag at the halfway marker were cheered on by taiko drummers, then by a rock and roll band, and finally at the finish line - a cajun and blues band!

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