Change reveals the beginnings of what we see... The Filipino community has formed a brand new organization. On March 2, 2013, a group of Filipinos composed of members and non-members of the former association named FILTOBA, met and held an election for the new set of officers. As I mentioned in my column last March 6, we Filipinos are determined to initiate “new beginnings” by reorganizing the Filipino association. We decided that it was time to make major changes in the organization which are geared toward a more active participation in community affairs. And so the group opted to re-name the association by focusing on the areas where a majority of the members reside and work. The name “Filipino Association of Neepawa and Area Inc. or F.A.N.A. INC.” is now reserved under the Corporations Act/Business Names Registration Act. Rick Donaldson, the Town’s Economic Development Officer, has generously offered his guidance to help the group in processing the official registration for it to be a legalized non-profit organization. The newly elected President is Eleazer Resolis, one of the “veteran” workers who moved to Neepawa in 2008. Mike Malli is Vice President, Lyane Cypres is the Secretary, to be assisted by Lelibeth Libadisos, Rochelle Unico is the Treasurer with Ogie Dizon as her assistant, while Eduardo de Castro is Auditor, to be assisted by Vernalyn Almachar, Eugene Castres is the Business Manager, Ril Villorente is the Internal (HyLife) Public Relations Officer and I am the External P.R.O. Supplementary P.R.O.s consisting of the representatives from each Filipino Regional group (for example the Igorot or Mountain Province group), will be assigned by the president. These groups will be part of the “umbrella organization” which will be tasked to coordinate with the officers in carrying out the association’s activities. Andrea Winik, the first Filipino resident of Neepawa, and considered the “mentor” for all the Filipinos, is the new association’s Advisor. FANA Inc. aims to address the challenges that the Filipino community is facing due to its continuous growth. During the first official executive meeting held last March 10, the group agreed to prioritize financial and health issues encountered by the Filipinos. They also discussed the importance of creating projects to enhance diversification. The Filipino Volunteer Group has agreed to merge with FANA Inc. to promote unity and camaraderie among the Filipinos in Neepawa and Area. FANA Inc. proposed the creation of six committees to properly delegate tasks. The Community Service Committee will be assigned to do projects which will encourage collaboration between Filipinos and Canadians. The Health Committee will be in charge of providing interpreters/translators for the hospital. Its members will also be responsible for transporting Filipino patients to and from the health facility during medical appointments and emergencies. The Entertainment or Activity Committee will coordinate and oversee the fundraising projects, holiday presentations and the Lily Festival participations. FANA Inc. also suggested the formation of a Counseling Committee for families or individuals who may have personal issues that require intervention. Then the Immigration and Integration Committee will assist Filipinos in filing their documents for permanent residency, finding appropriate housing and make endorsements for trainings and orientations. A General Assembly meeting was held last March 16. Newcomers and former members of FILTOBA congregated at the basement of St. Dominic’s Roman Catholic Church and talked about the change in management and plans for upcoming activities. To facilitate change, FANA Inc. is compelled to be more active in initiating relevant endeavours for all the Filipinos. They are now entrusted with the difficult task of influencing and encouraging the Filipinos into “coming out of their shell.” I hope that this “new beginning” will help promote better intercultural relations. A popular Filipino newscaster once said, “Knowledge is power.” Therefore, FANA Inc. will be instrumental in disseminating information that will lead to a better understanding of who and what Filipinos are really like.