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08/07/2013: 10 Filipino-American Youth Leaders Seen as Spokespersons for the Philippines in the US

8 July 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ten promising Filipino-American youth leaders are now in Manila for a four-day immersion program that seeks to further raise the profile of the Philippines in the United States.

The 10 are the selected delegates to the 2nd Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPro) that was conceived two years ago by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. as part of efforts to further boost Philippine relations with the US.

“By giving Filipino-American youth leaders the chance to have a better appreciation and understanding of the land where their parents came from, we are also giving ourselves the opportunity to have more spokespersons for the Philippines in the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia, Jr. said.

The 10 youth leaders will take part in an intensive program that includes an audience with President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacanang as well as calls on Vice President Jejomar Binay, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and other top officials.

Ambassador Cuisia said this year’s FYLPro delegates are:

Julien A. Baburka – Bloomingdale, Illinois; 26 years old; Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer for the Office of the Governor of the State of Illinois; Volunteer at the Almost Home Foundation and active member of the Cosmopolitan United Church; Served as Vice President of the University of Illinois’ College Democrats.

Nico Barawid – Memphis, Tennessee; 23 years old; Graduate of Yale University (with honors) in Economics and currently pursuing masteral studies in public policy at the University of Oxford; Served as president of Kasama, Yale’s Filipino student association; Delegate to climate change conferences and founder of an organization that fights environmental exploitation; will start work at the European Investment Bank this summer and with the Boston Consulting Group in Miami in September.

Rex C. Brown, Jr. – Daly City, California; 25 years old; Product Associate at Google Inc., where he actively takes part in the company’s mentoring programs to promote Information Technology and Research and Development among the youth; founded Baskets 4 Hope, a nonprofit organization that empowers inner-city youth through athletic events and mentoring services; graduated from San Diego State University, summa cum laude.

Randy J. Cortez – Honolulu, Hawaii; 25 years old; Program Specialist at OCS in the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations in Honolulu; current President of the Hawaii Filipino Junior Chamber, where he was a Presidential Merit awardee; member of Knights of Rizal, Hawaii Chapter; Fulbright-Hays Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa; and Dean’s Lister at the University of Hawaii - Manoa.

Anthony D. Guevara – Houston, Texas; 26 years old; Senior Loan Officer at Affiliated Bank Mortgage; founded the Filipino American Council of South Texas; Regional Youth Coordinator of National Federation of Filipino-American Associations-Region VI; served on the board of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Texas; graduate of Texas A&M University, where he served as president of the Philippine Student Association.

Melissa A. Medina – Washington, D.C.; 24 years old; United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Liaison and Legislative Assistant to Rep. Edward Royce; participant in the Foreign Policy Initiative’s Congressional Scholars Program and Woodrow Wilson Foreign Policy Fellowship Program;  represented California as the state’s 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival’s 100th anniversary; graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Rachelle P. Ocampo – Levittown, New York; 25 years old; health educator at Queens Hospital Center; President of the Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro); Vice President of the American College of Healthcare Executives;  Fellow at the Queens Fellowship; multi-awarded student leader at St. John’s University; and received her Master’s in Education, Science and Public Health from the State University of New York.

Maria Bea Querido – Seattle, Washington; 28 years old; Program Management and Supply Chain Lead at the Boeing Company; was employed in Lockheed Martin as a Finance and Accounting Analyst;  served as vice president of the Filipino Young Professionals in Washington, D.C.; interned at the White House and at the Office of California State Sen. Betty Karnette;  graduate of George Washington University and Advanced Project Management Program at Stanford University.

Dennis G. Rodriguez, Jr. – Tamuning, Guam; 34 years old; second-term senator in the Guam Legislature, where he is the Legislature’s Majority Whip and chairman of the Committee on Health and Human Services, Health Insurance Reform, Economic Development and Senior Citizens; previously served as research analyst at the Committee on Municipal Affairs, Aviation, Housing and Recreation; graduate of the University of Guam.

Edward N. Santos – New York, New York; 27 years old; Consultant at School Professionals; served in Teach for America based in East Harlem, New York, where he worked with underserved students;  recipient of special recognition for volunteer service by Rep. Charles Rangel; appointed to Manhattan Community Board 11; graduate of the University of Michigan and PACE University.

Consul General Mario de Leon of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, who is coordinating this year’s program, said the delegates will also participate in roundtable discussions with policymakers at the Department of Foreign Affairs and will meet with members of the Makati Business Club and other leaders of industry, legislators, members of the media, artists and cultural experts, entrepreneurs and innovators in different fields.

Consul General De Leon said the participants will also visit the Ayala Museum in Makati and the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm in Bulacan.

Ambassador Cuisia said this year’s FYLPro was made possible by Ayala Foundation, which is the program’s partner in the Philippines, as well as Chevron, Phinma, Philamlife, Planters Development Bank, CLSA Exchange Capital, SGV & Company and Ayala Corporation, which shouldered the cost of the participants’ airfare, local transportation and accommodations.

The 10 went through a selection process that involved the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Philippine Consulates General in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Chicago and Guam.

Ambassador Cuisia said the 2nd FYLPro builds on the success of the first program held in July 2012, which yielded a remarkable batch of young Filipino-Americans who continue to embark on different advocacies to help promote further progress in the Philippines and to further engage the Filipino-American community.

“Last year’s delegates found the intensive program informative and inspiring,” Ambassador Cuisia said, adding that the experience served to reinforce their commitment to and passion for community and nation-building.

He said the first batch have gone to undertake, among others, political advocacy initiatives, cultural and tourism promotion programs, social entrepreneurship activities, education innovations, Filipino-American heritage projects, voter awareness and education, and have even launched political campaigns of their own. ###