Filipinos Finding Each Other In Washington, DC

December 10, 2017 7:00 pm by Taste.Company
filipinos-finding-each-other-in-dc

Photo Courtesy by NaFFAA

By: Kathryn Streeter

According to the last census, three thousand seven hundred Filipinos live in the Washington, DC region and that number has likely risen given the active presence of the Embassy of the Philippines, the DC-based National Federation of Filipino American Association (NaFFAA) and other organizations dedicated to helping Filipino-Americans flourish.

NaFFAA’s Executive Director, Jason Tengco exemplifies the energy behind the mission-minded community in Washington, DC. As the youngest director ever, Tengco, 29, brings fresh ideas to the association and is able to galvanize dynamic millennials. Tengco said the Washington, DC region of NaFFAA is especially robust, benefiting from long-time community activists, eager young professionals and its advantageous location which enables initiatives to more easily capture the attention of national leaders. Together with National Chairman Brendan Flores, Tengco is unveiling NaFFAA 2.0 for the association’s 20th year celebration. “It’s a rebranding effort to concentrate on streamlining our priorities of leadership development, civic engagement and advocacy,” he explained.

filipinos-finding-each-other-in-dc

Photo Courtesy by NaFFAA

The association unites Filipino-Americans interested in advocating for community-sensitive causes such as immigration, Filipino veterans and education. Members also enjoy access to various workshops on topics intended to build resilience and strategic growth in the community. Perhaps though, one of the greatest perks is the vibrant social scene. Tengco says gatherings are held regularly in trendy Filipino restaurants, foodie events meant to encourage esprit de corps and solidify bonds.

Tengco’s personal story resembles that of other Filipino-American millennials in the DC region, he says, one which stressed assimilation into American culture and suppression of his Filipino roots. Memories of his embarrassment to identify as Filipino in San Francisco where he was raised has played a role in Tengco’s obvious passion as director of NaFFAA. Today, he stands perfectly poised to make a difference and help strengthen the pride of Filipino-Americans.

filipinos-finding-each-other-in-dc

Photo Courtesy by NaFFAA

The centrally located Embassy of the Philippines offers another rich resource for the community. Public Diplomacy Officer Ms. Darell Artates says, “The Embassy realizes that making Filipinos proud of their identity and cultural heritage contributes to their empowerment. An empowered community is a productive community. This is why we keep a calendar of diverse community events, ranging from town hall meetings on current developments and Philippine affairs to cultural presentations. Admission is free and there is almost always Filipino food to be enjoyed!”

How to sign up for free events and food? The embassy makes it easy to get involved by joining the embassy mailing list, following them on Facebook or Twitter, all viable ways to stay up-to-date about happenings and get engaged.

Other efforts out there determined to knit the community together include the Filipino-Americans for Progress, a political action group; Philippines on the Potomac, celebrating the places in the region that hold some significance to Philippine-American history and culture;  DCMetro Fil-Am MeetUp, a straight-forward way to meet other Filipinos; Eater and Yelp’s best Filipino restaurant round-up; Filipino Community In DC, Maryland and Virginia, a Facebook group gathering point; and The Filipino Young Professionals of Washington DC, a site to network with other professionals.

It takes a long time to carve out a place in another country enough to call it home. When you find others with similar backgrounds to learn from, to link arms with and fight for causes, to exchange stories and experiences with, it’s going to be a little bit easier and a lot more fun. The embassy, NaFFAA and various other Washington, DC resources offer a solid anchor for Filipino-Americans living in the region.

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