Caring for elders never gets old, Philippine and California officials emphasized at a faith-oriented community education program and resource provider fair last weekend here.
“Respect for elders is a hallmark of our culture,” enunciated Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr. “Wherever we are, no matter our station in life - even in this age of information technology where novelty wears off fast - what remains constant for us Filipinos is our instinct to care for our parents.”
The highest ranking representative of the Philippine government in Northern California and nine other states underscored the time-honored Filipino value in his keynote at “Our Family, Our Future,” May 11 at Grace United Methodist Church. A gathering of community-based advocates and providers from public and private sectors, the event was the 11th yearly presentation focusing on older and dependent adults by ALLICE Alliance for Community Empowerment, a non-profit all-volunteer organization composed of Filipino Americans. The team’s mission is to promote resource-sharing for healthier and safer homes.
“The family is the heart of the community, and events like this bring agencies closer to those who need services the most,” special guest Phil Ting, California Assembly Member reinforced the significance of the gathering. Since 2012, Ting has represented the 19th District spanning the west side of San Francisco and further south to Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City, and South San Francisco in San Mateo County.
“I know there is a sense of uncertainty with all that’s going on in Washington D.C., but here in California, we will continue to provide services regardless of immigration documentation,” the former executive director of Asian Law Caucus assured, offering a personal invitation to contact his office for assistance.
Ting’s district is home to a heavy concentration of Filipino Americans, including majority of the congregants of Grace United Methodist Church. Rev. Alex Cambe, a Filipino with roots in the Ilocos Region in the Philippines is its pastor.
“We are honored to host this event for a noble cause – the complete wellness of the entire family,” Cambe said in his opening prayer.
Using theater to inspire reflection and build empathy, ALLICE dramatized unhealthy interaction followed by healthy alternatives with roles played by Kumares and Kumpares, as ALLICE members call themselves.
While the vignettes drew chuckles from the audience - such as a U.S.-based daughter reminding her newly arrived immigrant mother not to call her "Anak" and to throw away the "stinky dried fish" that the former favored in childhood - these touched on behaviors often mistaken as harmless.
In fact constant demeaning crushes the subject's self-esteem, making her feel inferior, and is a form of emotional abuse," defined Kumpare Dr. Jei Africa, a licensed psychologist who annotated the skit with Kumare Bettina Santos Yap, a marketing executive.
“Maybe because we see such interactions on TV or in the movies, or maybe we don’t realize that we are actually committing abuse, thinking such is always physical,” proposed Frances Dinglasan, general assignment reporter for KGO Channel 7 News, who co-emceed with Lloyd LaCuesta, retired KTVU Channel 2 News South Bay Bureau Chief.
“We hope to bring about healing and enlightenment at this presentation,” LaCuesta added, noting that the event was dedicated to departed Kumares Alice Bulos and Erlinda Galeon, longtime leaders passed away last year.
For 14 years ALLICE has been staging education presentations to address relationship matters free and open to the public.
“Our spring presentations focus on issues intersecting domestic violence that we highlight in our fall events,” said Jennifer Jimenez Wong, 2017 ALLICE president and a licensed marriage and family therapist. “In homes where there is intimate partner violence – or violence between two people romantically involved with each other – chances are high there is abuse involving other members of the family including the elders, the subject of today’s event. Hearing from our experts enables us to recognize healthy and unhealthy behaviors and make changes as needed.”
At least 15 nonprofits consulted with attendees about their programs. Kaiser Permanente Filipino Association provided free health screenings. Seton Medical Center, Union Bank and Pilipino Bayanihan Resource Center sponsored the event with San Mateo Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, Philippine News, Philippines Today, Positively Filipino, GMA News Online, Rappler.com, The Filipino Channel, Lucky Chances, Moonstar, Noah's Bagels, Chalet Ticino and Hapag Filipino among donor allies.
Founded in 2003, ALLICE members represent a cross-section of the FilAm community, a diverse group united to bed violent behaviors. Allen Capalla, Santos Yap, Cecile Gregorio Ascalon, Cherie Querol Moreno, Edna Murray, Elsa Agasid, Africa, Jimenez Wong, Joanne del Rosario, Jose Antonio, Leonard Oakes, Malou Aclan, Nan Santiago, Nellie Hizon, Ofie Albrecht, Paulita Lasola Malay, Sarah Jane Ilumin, Teresa Guingona Ferrer and Father Mark Reburiano form the current team.
is executive director of ALLICE. For more information, visit www.allicekumares.com.