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The women who inspire

Bing C. BraniginBy Bing C. Branigin
The pleasant early spring weather is being enjoyed by area residents.

Noticeable are how meetings are well attended, specially the preparations for the Philippine Festival and the Asian Festival, respectively.

Last March 18, a well attended forum was held at the George Washington University Campus called “Merienda with the Ambassador”. Not many people know that the person behind this project is Mrs. Vicky Cuisia, the beloved wife of the ambassador.

Mrs. Vicky Cuisia

The very low-key Mrs. Cuisia stayed out of the limelight all throughout the program, even during the photo-op.

The event was held on a Sunday afternoon, and with matching sunny 70 degree weather and the cherry tree flowers blooming. Still they came to participate and exchange ideas on what it is to be a young Filipino American in the diaspora.

Different young and accomplished Filipino Americans were invited as panelists, from politics, education, entrepreneur, media, community leader, etc.

The forum will now continue in some areas of the country according to Mrs. Cuisia.

Through the different consulates, they will have a similar format addressing the young Filipino Americans concerns of who they are, and sharing experiences as minorities in this great country, the US, and the country of their heritage, the Philippines.

Another Filipina American trailblazer is Gloria Topacio Caoile. Yes, the same Gloria who inspired the 2nd and third generations Filipino American leaders such as Ben De Guzman, Vida Benavidez, Naomi Takuyan Underwood, Rodney Salinas, Joe Montano, Kris Valderrama, the list goes on and on.

Gloria will be honored by the Asian American Action Fund, AAA with the appropriate “Trailblazer Award.” Receiving award with Gloria is another dynamic Asian American, former Transportation Secretary, and Cong. Norman Mineta, who will be given the “Lifetime Award.”

Gloria Topacio Caoile

The event will take place April 17, at the National Democratic National Committee Headquarters in Capitol Hill.

Though Gloria and husband Ben now calls Las Vegas, Nevada as their home, the Filipino American community of the metropolitan Washington, DC area still considers the Caoile’s as Washingtonians, having lived and worked here for over 20 years.

Gloria has always been the voice of the Filipino Americans in the Asian American community. She encouraged her community to be active in politics, union, PTA, voters registration, women’s right, immigration and labor rights,  just to name a few.

She claims she is retired, yeah right, Gloria! Currently she is Director for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and coordinates the national non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaign. And as founding member of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), the organization is pushing for the education of registrations and contributing and participating in the US election.

Gloria is also an active member of the Feed the Hungry, the local Filipino American charity based in Washington, D.C. FtH raised funds in the US so they can continue to provide services to the less-fortunate kababayans in the Philippines.

Former President Bill Clinton appointed Gloria in 2000, to the White House Advisory Commission of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. She was one of those who advised the president on the issues affecting the APAI community.

Gloria was also one of the key organizers of the Pearl Presidential Inaugural Ball of President Barack Obama that was held at the Mandarin Hotel. The standing room only event was covered by the national and international media.

Another dynamic and behind the scene leader in the community is Maurese Oteyza Owens.

Mo to family and friends, is the glue that binds the area’s Filipino American community. Organization leaders come and go, but Mo will always be the voice of reason. She gives her unsolicited and solicited advice to dozens of organizations.

Not many people know that she provides the calm and resolute decisions to big projects of the community, whether this is a fund-raising, elections, awards, or a simple “turf war” among erring leaders.

But her popularity comes with a cost; she goes to bed very late because she has to attend several meetings, teleconferences, and politely correcting the politically incorrect messages, agendas, and the like.

Also, organizations wants her to their events but unfortunately these has become a very expensive experienced because of the cost of attending such an event.

I hope they appreciate all the hard work that Mo does to this community. As the current PRO of PAFC, and as such, she collates and updates current events, programs, and officers of all the Filipino American organizations.

If you want your new officers and events to be published, call or email Mo.

You see, these are the women that inspire me to do more, and not to complain.

Please, if you get the chance to see one of them, do thank them and appreciate the advocacy they do.

More power to our women leaders.

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