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NAFFAA Affirms Organization's Fiscal Integrity, Resolves to Press on with Empowerment Agenda

Board members of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) reaffirmed their total acceptance and approval of NaFFAA’s financial records, and strongly repudiated baseless accusations of financial misconduct by their executive officials. These attacks have been widely circulated recently in some Filipino American newspapers and in the Internet.

“Our audited financial reports – which have been thoroughly reviewed and audited by an independent CPA firm – are open to the public for scrutiny, and they will belie any charge of fraud, misrepresentation or fiscal impropriety,” states National Treasurer Ludy Corrales. “These external auditors have confirmed that our financial operations are basically sound. As a non-profit organization, we are committed to high standards of accountability, transparency and fiscal integrity.”

In a manifesto approved at the August 27 meeting of the board, NaFFAA officers were unanimous in rejecting allegations of NaFFAA’s “non-accountability or failure of accountability of moneys received from Wells Fargo in 2002.” The matter of the $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo has been thoroughly documented and audited by the independent CPA firm of A. F. Paredes & Co. The board cited the Oct. 22, 2003 cover letter of the Independent Auditors’ Report, which says in part: “In our opinion, the financial statements referred to [above] present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations as of December 21, 2002 and 2001 and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.”

In accepting “without question the external auditor’s report as satisfactory and conclusive,” board members also affirmed their “full confidence in the personal integrity of Alex Esclamado who, as national chair during the period in question, served with total dedication and commitment to NaFFAA’s cause, and at great personal sacrifice.”

Board members also expressed their unequivocal support for National Chairman Greg Macabenta, who has been falsely accused by one media practitioner of receiving commissions, in his capacity as a NaFFAA official, from a $300,000 Wells Fargo grant in 2002. While acknowledging that he had professional dealings with Wells Fargo in connection with a marketing campaign handled by his advertising agency, Minority Media Services, Inc., the business transaction occurred in 1995, two years before NaFFAA was formed. Board members were united in condemning “all the malicious attempts by certain individuals in our community to impugn our national chairman’s character and integrity, and by inference the integrity of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations as an institution.”

Adds Rodel Rodis, a regional chair emeritus and NaFFAA founding member: “We’ve always welcomed constructive criticisms from the community, but we condemn the malicious accusers who are mainly obsessed with destroying an organization that is committed to empowering the Filipino American community."

Since its founding, NaFFAA has received grants from Wells Fargo Bank and other corporate donors to fund the organization’s programs and general operations. These grants have been fully accounted for in audited financials.

LOOKING AHEAD. The board also resolved to undertake a series of initiatives to build NaFFAA’s resources and capacity in order to address the critical issues that affect the Filipino community. “We have much work to do,” asserts Macabenta. “On the issue of equity for Filipino World War II Veterans, we need to ensure that our aging heroes receive their lump sum payments as provided for by law. Health care and comprehensive immigration reform are major issues that require our active interaction with policy makers and coalition partners. And with the 2010 Census coming up, we need to organize ourselves down to the grassroots level to make sure that everyone is counted. Our community expects us to seize the leadership and they deserve nothing less than our dedication and total commitment to their causes and concerns.”

When NaFFAA was formed in 1997, community leaders vowed to engage the Filipino American community in all aspects of America’s social, economic and political life. Over the years, NAFFAA’s leaders have worked closely with civil rights organizations to fight for equity and justice for Filipino World War II veterans. In coalition with other groups, NAFFAA implemented get-out-the-vote campaigns and voter education drives. It responded to media stereotypes and racist caricatures of Filipinos through protest actions and dialogues with corporate media organizations. At regional and local levels, NaFFAA also spearheaded several projects relating to youth leadership, business development and civic participation.

“We’ve come a long way in building NaFFAA and I’m proud of what we have accomplished,” says Gloria T. Caoile, National Vice Chair Emeritus. “The young generation is looking up to us now to lead our community, to show that NaFFAA is bigger than any one of us, and that we owe it to them to always take the high road when faced with daunting challenges.”

Adds Gus Mercado, a former regional chair and NaFFAA founding member: “Our organization is not perfect by any means, and none of us leaders are. We all make mistakes. But that is the beauty of our organization. We have so many good men and women in our midst who will persevere in their sworn duty to unite and empower the Fil-Am community, no matter the challenges and pitfalls they face along the way.”

“NaFFAA has survived for 12 years despite its ups and downs,” points out Dr. Joy Bruce of Miami, Florida, a former regional chair and currently executive director of NANAY, a social service organization. “I have no doubt that it will continue to survive, flourish and emerge successfully, like a sleeping giant, to fulfill its mission for empowerment. And everyone will be proud to have stayed the course. All it needs is renewed vigor, new blood, new ideas, a change in approach, a willingness to learn from past experience and a determination to succeed.”

August 27 Manifesto

We, the undersigned officers, members and supporters of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations strongly repudiate all the baseless accusations of financial misconduct by NaFFAA officials that have been publicized recently in newspapers and the Internet.

We particularly reject allegations of NaFFAA’s non-accountability or failure of accountability of moneys received from Wells Fargo in 2002. The matter of the $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo has been thoroughly documented and audited by the independent CPA firm of A. F. Paredes & Co. As stated in the Oct. 22, 2003 cover letter of the Independent Auditors’ Report, “In our opinion, the financial statements referred to [above] present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations as of December 21, 2002 and 2001 and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the years then ended in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.” This report is available to the public for examination and scrutiny.

We accept without question the external auditor’s report as satisfactory and conclusive. By this declaration, we are affirming our full confidence in the personal integrity of Alex Esclamado who, as national chair during the period in question, served with total dedication and commitment to NaFFAA’s cause, and at great personal sacrifice.

We also express our full and unqualified support for our NaFFAA National Chairman Greg Macabenta, who has been falsely accused of receiving commissions from Wells Fargo in his capacity as a NaFFAA official. While acknowledging that he had professional dealings with Wells Fargo in connection with a marketing campaign handled by his advertising agency, Minority Media Services, Inc., the business transaction occurred in 1995, two years before NaFFAA was formed. We strongly condemn all the malicious attempts by certain individuals in our community to impugn our national chairman’s character and integrity, and by inference the integrity of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations as an institution.

Our community is faced with critical challenges that require the active attention of NaFFAA’s national leaders. Policy makers in Washington DC are making decisions that directly affect our lives, our families and our children’s future. We need to be engaged in these critical issues, such as health care, workers rights and immigration reform. The fight for justice and equity for Filipino Veterans continues for so long as their lump sum payments are not made and for so long as their surviving widows are not cared for. And with the 2010 Census before us, we need to ensure that everyone in our community – regardless of citizenship and legal status – stands up to be counted.

To achieve our goal of community empowerment as enunciated in our 1997 founding conference, we will build our organizational capacity to lead, mobilize our collective strengths at the grassroots in partnership with those who share our vision, and summon from within each one of us a sense of selfless dedication to public service, always mindful of our proud history and heritage..

We are determined now more than ever to move forward and build the “dream that is NaFFAA,” and be the strong voice for the hopes and aspirations of the community we love.

(partial list of signatories)

Michelle Abad, New York, Region 1 Youth Chair
Amy Agbayani, Honolulu, Region 10
Nony Abrajano, Hampton Roads, Va., Region 2 Chair
Roger Alama, New York, Region 1 Vice Chair
Dely Alcantara, Albuquerque, NM., Region 6 Chair Emeritus
Tess Atayde, Seattle, Wash., Region 7 Chair
Norma Benson, Houston, TX.,Region 6 Chair
Marites ‘Bing’ Cardenas Branigin, Reston, Va., Media & PR Director
Joy Bruce, Miami, Fl., Region 4 Chair Emeritus, Exec. Dir. NANAY Inc.
Gloria T. Caoile, Springfield, Va., National Vice Chair Emeritus
Martin Celemin, Las Vegas, NV. Region 10 Chair
Jerry Clarito, Chicago, Ill., National Director for Legislative Affairs
Ludy Corrales, New Jersey, National Treasurer
Val F. Dagani, Jr.. Orlando, Fl..Council of Filipino-American Organzations
Lorna Dietz, Chicago, Ill. National Director for Online Communications
Marilyn Doromal, Atlanta, GA., Region 4 Chair
Luly Esclamado, North Carolina, National Director for Program & Development
Mariella Fletcher, Seattle, Wash., Region 7 Vice Chair
Alma Kern, Seattle, Wash., National Chair Emeritus
Rozita Lee, Las Vegas, NV., National Vice Chair
J.T. Mallonga, New York, Region 1 Chair
Jon Melegrito, Washington, D.C. National Communications Director
Loida Nicolas Lewis, New York, National Chair Emeritus
Ed Navarra, Detroit, Michigan. Region 3 Chair
Flor Obana, Denver, Colo., Region 5 Chair
Jose Pecho, San Francisco, Calif., Region 8 Chair
Ernie Ramos, Miami, Florida, Region 5 Chair Emeritus
Sluggo Rigor, Seattle, Wash., Region 7 Chair Emeritus
Rodel Rodis, San Francisco, Ca. Region 8 Chair
Emeritus Merit Salud, New York, Region 1 Co-Chair, FilAmVote
Marlene Stern, Connecticut State Chair, Region 1
Reuben S. Seguritan, New York, General Counsel
Bart Tubalinal, Chicago, Ill., Auditor & Parliamentarian, Region 3
Yoly Tubalinal, Chicago, Ill., Region 3, 2004 NaFFAA Convention Co-Chair


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