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26/10/2011: Philippine Embassy Briefs Fil-Am Students at UVA as part of Filipino American History Month

Minister Ariel Penaranda, center, with members of the Organization of Young Pilipino Americans of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

26 October 2011, Washington, DC. Minister Ariel Rodelas Penaranda gave a talk on October 14, 2011 on Philippines-US relations at the Fall Symposium organized by the Organization of Young Pilipino Americans (OYPA) of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. For OYPA, it was an opportunity to celebrate Filipino American History Month. In 2009, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 780 recognizing October as Filipino American History Month. Minister Penaranda spoke about the history of the relations between the Philippines and the United States and explained to the students the enduring alliance to this day between the two countries. He also highlighted the great contribution of Filipino Americans to American society and economy. He asked the support of the students for the Save Our Industries Act (SAVE Act), a bill in the US Congress that aims to promote jobs and increase export incomes for the Philippine apparel industry and the US textile industry.

A diverse organization in terms of the members’ field of study, OYPA is led by its President, Mr. Andrew Gener, a fourth year student and biology major. Ms. Adrienne Usman, the organization’s Corresponding Secretary, helped organize the event. One of the organization's main accomplishments is endowing the OYFA Excellence Scholarship, which is awarded every year to first year students who display need and dedication to the organization.  They have raised funds for the scholarship through various events, including the annual Filipino Food Night. The scholarship is awarded during the Annual Barrio Fiesta, a huge cultural show every spring semester, where members perform a themed skit and several traditional dances.  The group succeeded in being able to perform at the Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center, the largest performance venue in Charlottesville. One of their new projects is to develop a class on Filipino history.  A syllabus is being drafted and it is hoped to have the class started next year.

Minister Ariel Penaranda, 3rd from left, with the executive board members of the OYPA, (from left to right) Maera Andres, Adrienne Usman, Andrew Gener, Erin Abdelrazaq, and Ryan Abalos.

Minister Penaranda commended the worthwhile activities of OYPA and expressed the hope that other university-based Filipino American organizations also promote Filipino American heritage. END.