With less than a month to go before the 4th Global Filipino Networking Convention in Honolulu opens on September 28, you better register now and make plans to be there. If you haven't attended a Pinoy convention this year or ever, this is the one to go to. It will be the mother of all Pinoy conventions as it will feature one huge conference, the 7th National Empowerment Conference of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), and dozens of smaller ones on various issues.
The break-out sessions alone are reason enough to attend the convention but in case you haven't quite decided yet, let me provide you with 10 more reasons to attend the convention.
1. Celebrate the Centennial. The Diaspora that has brought about 8.5 million Filipinos to live and work outside the Philippines today all began with fifteen (15) sacadas (the first OFWs -Overseas Filipino Workers) who were brought to Honolulu on December 20, 1906. A feature of the convention is the Centenario Festival on October 1, with centennial exhibits at the Bishop Museum and entertainment provided by ABS-CBN stars and local entertainers. You are here in America because of those 15 intrepid OFWs who came 100 years ago. So celebrate their journey. You likely will not be around for the next centennial.
2. Network with other Pinoys. Bring your calling cards and make perhaps lifetime connections with Pinoys from throughout the US and from all over the world. This is the 4th Global Filipino Networking Convention with the 1st having taken place in San Francisco in August 2002, the 2nd in Manila in December 2003 and the 3rd in January 2005. The 5th is slated to be held in Australia in September 2007.
3. Empower Pinoys. In the 100 years of Filipino history in America, there has never been a national organization of Pinoys like the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) with a national office and presence in Washington DC and 12 active regional chapters throughout the US (for more info, log on to www.naffaa.org). This is the 7th National Empowerment Conference of the NaFFAA after the 1st was held in Washington DC in August of 1997. The 2nd was held a year later also in DC, with the 3rd in New York (1999), the 4th in Las Vegas (2000), the 5th in San Jose (2002), and the 6th in Chicago (2004).
4. Watch the World Premiere of SANDAAN. This is the movie that tells the story of the Filipino American in the last 100 years, produced by Sonny Izon, and sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution which is hosting 7 national events to commemorate the Filipino centennial in America.
5. Meet Philippine Officials. Former President Fidel V. Ramos leads an impressive group of current and former Philippine officials who are slated to attend the global convention. Among the current officials are House Speaker Jose De Venecia who will speak in favor of Charter Change with former Senate President Franklin Drilon presenting the argument against the shift to a unicameral parliamentary system. Also attending are government officials like Tourism boss Joseph "Ace" Durano, Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) head Gen. Edgar Aglipay, Philippine Culture Commission chair Ambeth Ocampo and Ambassador to Britain Ed Espiritu.
6. Meet Filipino American Officials. Former Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano and Hawaii State Senator (and perhaps 1st FilAm Congressman) Ron Menor top this list which include former Washington State Rep. Velma Veloria and former Milpitas Mayor Henry Manayan.
7. Swear in as a Dual Citizen. All the Philippine Consul Generals in the US will attend the convention together with the current RP Ambassador to DC Willy Gaa and they will attend and officiate the mass swearing-in of Dual Citizens which will take place at the convention. If you always wanted to re-acquire your Philippine citizenship, just bring proof of your former citizenship (birth certificate or old Philippine passport) and be sworn in. The convention will also celebrate the Philippine Supreme Court decision affirming the right of dual citizens to vote in Philippine elections.
8. Say Farewell. Former Philippine Ambassador to the US Albert del Rosario will attend the convention to greet old friends from throughout the US whom he became close to during his 5 years of service. He will be especially thanked for stopping Calpers from withdrawing its investments in the Philippines and from stopping the US Senate from killing Philippine tuna exports to the US. Current NaFFAA chair Loida Nicolas Lewis, CEO of the TLC Beatrice multinational conglomerate will also bow out from the post she has held for the past four years. NaFFAA delegates from throughout the US will want to personally thank her for devoting so much of her busy time leading NaFFAA to its growth and expansion.
9. Find out who will succeed Loida. Filipinos love elections and suspense. A highlight of the convention will be the elections for the NaFFAA chair to succeed Loida. Will it be current vice chair Greg Macabenta (the publisher of Filipinas magazine), former vice chair Gloria Caoile (assistant to the AFL-CIO national president), Seattle NaFFAA head (Region 7)Alma Kern, Florida NaFFAA (Region 4) chair Ernie Ramos, Michigan NaFFAA chair (Region 3) chair Ed Navarra, Houston NaFFAA chair (Region 6) Arlene Machetta?
10. It's Hawaii! Hello? Who needs an excuse to go to the Aloha state? It's your chance to wear your old Hawaiian shirts and shorts and enjoy the sunny warm beaches of Waikiki.
What are you waiting for? Log on to www.naffaa.org and register now and then go to expedia, Travelocity, or whatever online travel agency you use and book your flight. Book your room by logging on to www.HiltonHawaiianVillage.com or call 1-800-hiltons and use the code "ABH" to avail of the special rate.
See you there. Mahalo.