DMV Fil-Ams reflect upon UniPro Summit X Experience


Back Row (Left to Right): Brandon Bartolome, Justine Suegay, Ryann Tanap, Rochielle Canare, Dennis Perez, Joe Javier Front Row (Left to Right): Andrew Bartolome, Krystle Canare Missing: Chrissi Fabro, Eliza Romero

On June 1, PAFC members joined Filipino American leaders from across the country in New York City for UniPro Summit X, an annual conference dedicated to promoting dialogue around issues impacting the Filipino community in the U.S and abroad.


“X” celebrates ten years of UniPro history, community, and progress. At Summit X, attendees collectively reflected upon the 10th anniversary of the organization and the future of the Filipino community. In “X,” UniPro challenged attendees to engage and reflect on Experience, Exclusion, and Extension, in order to mobilize and unite our community for the next “X” years.


On the drive back to DC, the carpool caravan was filled with ideas for the future. Below you will find reflections from their summit experience:


Why did you attend UniPro Summit X?


Eliza: This was my first time attending UniPro Summit. I was invited as a speaker on the Storytelling Panel, along with Kristian Kabuay and Ricky Agustin. It was a great discussion and everyone had so many contributions on how to bring more visibility to the Filipino American community through the subcultures that we are immersed in and how we can use that visibility to empower our people.


Justine: I attended UniPro Summit X to learn, network, and grow. Being part of a huge national group of young Filipino American leaders, I always strive to take advantage of opportunities to grow in my Filipino American identity, meet the complex community that makes it up, and learn in order to give back to my community. This was also an exciting time for me to meet new people, hear from speakers I've looked up to, and reconnect with old friends across the country.


Krystle: This is my second time attending the UniPro Summit - the first being in 2015, a year following college graduation and during a time I had no idea how I could re-engage with the Filipino American community in the DMV. My frustrations with not knowing how to be involved led me to going on an impromptu day trip to NYC with my close friend who was also dealing with the same post-grad struggles. At Summit 2015, our passion as community servants were reaffirmed. In particular, Summit is where I met fellow Filipina mental health warrior Ryann Tanap! I attended this year's summit so that I could continue to break bread with my fellow Filipino Americans and to encourage others in my DMV family to do the same.


What did you learn from your experience?


Brandon: Attending the Summit allowed me to consider how to become the most authentic version of myself. So often, we fail to acknowledge the wisdom of previous familial generations. As I continue reexamine my own familial past and history, I can become a better ambassador for our culture, share others' work and invite others to experience our cultural richness.

Eliza: One of my favorite things about the Summit was finally meeting people that I've connected with previously on social media. I loved the solidarity and overall enthusiasm to network, collaborate and promote each other's work. I picked up a lot of reading material from the organization tables as well -- zines from Anakbayan, and two books about baybayin from Kristian.


Joe: Attending UniPro Summit X taught me about what other Filipino nonprofits were doing across the east coast. I was very glad to learn that there are other Filipino organizations across the U.S. that hold similar values as FYP and NaFFAA here in DC. What was interesting to me was seeing local attendees wanting to learn about what was happening in the NYC Filipino community while attendees that traveled from outside NYC (such as us from DC) could bring back to their respective homes what they learn from attending UniPro Summit X.


Justine: My favorite part of the summit was a panel of Filipino Americans in the media. This panel, however, was different because it included people behind the scenes and not usually the first faces you see. This was important to me because this is a field of work I am interested in and it is empowering to see Filipino Americans have this much influence. From them I learned lessons of taking up space, risk-taking, using identity as your edge rather than limitation, and to support each other. I am personally empowered by their examples and how they have reclaimed space in their work to further the cause for inclusion and diverse programming. From this, I take away many values and attitudes I hope to embody as I explore their field.


Ryann: I learned that caregiving is actually an issue that young Filipinos want to learn about/talk about. There were around 30 people present for Gen. Taguba's caregiving session and several wanted to share their story (we only had time for two people to share). This is aligned with AARP's work, as a quarter of caregivers are millennials.



The last session of UniPro Summit was on Expansion and nurturing a community tree. What is one thing you plan to do to continue to expand upon your work in the Fil-Am community?


Andrew: The forum identified that the Filipino community are under-represented in terms of civic participation. As a Policy student concerned with the upcoming 2020 election, I am motivated to raise political empowerment by ensuring voter education, protection, and registration are met among Filipino-Americans within the upcoming year.


Justine: The community tree portion was such an empowering portion of the program. It showed how complex & different each one of our Filipino American experiences are, but at the same time highlight the shared struggles & strengths we've had. This also showed how we can individually serve our own communities in different levels of education, professional experience, and confidence. But the most important thing I took out from this is how I can personally expand my own experiences into my community. I plan to share this activity to my home organization at George Mason University's Filipino Cultural Association, and help them find strength and unity in their identity. I also plan to share more experiences like this and other opportunities to my local DMV community and network of young Fil-Am leaders to make sure that they too learn and grow.


Ryann: I think mentorship is something I'd like to explore, especially with younger Fil Ams. It was exciting to see a passionate younger generation at the Summit.


To learn more about UniPro, go to https://www.unipronow.org/


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