UniPro Initiatives and Programs

"Hiya" by Samantha Dizon



Base sa akda ni Dr. Kevin Nadal na “Filipino American Psychology,” ang hiya ay parte ng kulturang Pilipino mula pa sa ating mga ninuno. Bago pa man makarating ang mga dayuhan, umiiral na ang “hiya” sa ating mga tahanan. Ngunit ang tipo ng “hiya” na kanyang isinulat ay batay sa karangalan; kumbaga tayo ay may hiya dahil gusto nating ipakita sa lipunan ang pinakamabuting bersyon ng ating sarili at pamilya.

Kaya nang mabasa ko ang mga kumento ni Teddy Locsin, napatanong ako kung nakakahiya ba talaga ang Tagalog? Nakababawas ba ito sa karangalan ng isang tao, lalo na kung sila ay Pilipino? Anong bersyon ba ng ating sarili ang ipinahihiwatig natin kapag tayo ay nagsasalita ng Ingles imbis na Filipino? Talaga bang ganoon kababa ang tingin nating mga Pilipino sa ating sarili na pati ang ating wika ay ayaw na nating bigkasin? Hindi raw angkop sa debate, hindi tunog “propesyunal,” parang nagkwekwentuhan lang sa palengke. Ganyan ba talaga ang tingin natin sa Filipino ngayon?

Nakalulungkot dahil hindi lang si Teddy Locsin ang may pananaw na ganito. Bawat uwi ko sa Pilipinas, puro Ingles na ang salita ng mga “elite” na pamilya. Para bang kapag hindi ka marunong magsalita ng Filipino ay mas mataas kang uri ng tao. Sabi ng mga magulang ngayon ay dapat Ingles ang ginagamit sa kanilang mga anak para sila ay matuto, kaya wala nang Tagalog na naririnig sa tahanan. Napakamali ng ganitong pag-iisip. Sa tingin ko ay kung may pagkakataon kang matutunan ang sarili mong wika, ay dapat mong samantalahin ito. Napakaraming Pilipino na walang oportunidad na aralin ang Filipino, na magbabayad ng ilang daang dolyar para lang makausap ang kanilang mga pamilya. Kung alam niyo lang kung gaano kahirap intindihin ang Filipino para sa iba. Kung alam niyo lang kung gaano kahirap isulat ang talatang ito kahit ilang taon ako nag-aral ng Filipino at tumira sa Pilipinas.

Ginoong Locsin (at kung sinoman ang may katulad na pananaw), sayang sa iyo ang wikang Filipino. Sayang ang karunungan mo ng wikang Filipino. Sana ay ipinagkaloob ito sa libu-libong Pilipino na gustung-gustong matuto, gamitin, pahalagahan, mahalin, ang wikang Filipino. Sana sila na lang ang nabiyayaan ng oportunidad na para bang wala lang sa iyo.

Katatapos lang ng klase ko ng kolehiyo, at ngayon, ang mga kaibigan ko noong mataas na paaralan na ang mga guro. Sana ang henerasyon namin ay magising sa halaga ng ating wika, at igiit ito sa bagong henerasyon. Nawa’y maubos ang mga Teddy Locsin ng Pilipinas at mawala na ang ating hiya sa sarili nating kultura.

(Paumanhin kung barok man, o mali ang grammar/spelling ko. Out of practice na ako, haha.)

Translation for non-Tagalog-speaking folks:




According to Dr. Kevin Nadal’s “Filipino American Psychology,” shame has been a part of Filipino culture dating back to our ancestors. Before Western colonizers even arrived in the Philippines, “shame” prevailed in our households. But the “shame” that Nadal wrote about is based on honor; as in, we have “shame” because we want to show society the best version of ourselves and of our families to preserve this honor.

So when I read the comments by Teddy Locsin, it made me question what about Tagalog is so shameful? Does it dishonor a person so, especially when the person is Filipino? What version of ourselves do we really show when we speak English instead of Filipino? Do we, Filipinos, think so lowly of ourselves that we don’t even wish to speak our own language? They say Filipino is not appropriate for debate, that it doesn’t sound professional, that it’s akin to gossiping in the market. Is that really how we view Filipino today?

It is so sad that it is not only Teddy Locsin who has this point of view. Every time I go back to the Philippines, more and more “elite” families speak solely in English. It seems as though the less Filipino you know, the “higher” your rank as a human being becomes. Parents these days say we should use English around their children so they can learn, so we no longer hear Tagalog in the home. This mentality is so wrong. I personally think that if one is given the chance to learn their own language, that they should embrace it. So many Filipinos don’t have the same opportunity to learn Filipino, who pay hundreds of dollars just so they can hold a conversation with their families. If you only knew how hard it is for others to understand Filipino. If you only knew how hard it was to write this even though I studied Filipino for years and grew up in the Philippines.

Mr. Locsin (and whomever shares his point of view), the Filipino language is wasted on you. Your knowledge and skill of Filipino is a waste. If only the proficiency you possess was bestowed upon the thousands of Filipinos who would like nothing more than to learn, use, value, and love the Filipino language. If only they were blessed with the opportunities that seem to mean nothing to you.

My class just finished college, and now my friends from high school have become the teachers. I hope our generation is able to wake up to the value of our native tongue, and to emphasize this value to the future generations. That we rid ourselves of  the Teddy Locsins of the Philippines and shame of our own culture.

Why EDSA Matters by Cristobal Zarco

This past February marked the thirtieth anniversary of the EDSA revolution. A generation has passed since Filipinos in the millions stared down the tanks and troops of the Marcos regime on Metro Manila’s main highway that the revolution was eventually named after. To those who lived through it, now reaching middle age, EDSA was an unbelievable, transformative, even spiritual experience of how faith and the people’s will could peacefully topple a dictator. For younger Filipinos without any memory of EDSA, it already seems dated and simply another chapter of the Philippines’ tumultuous political history. What exactly did EDSA accomplish? Thirty years on, why does it matter?It’s worth going back to September 1972 and the very beginning of martial law to fully understand the context of the events that toppled Marcos in February 1986. After a staged assassination attempt on Secretary of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile, Marcos declared martial law, granting himself powers far beyond those allowed to him under the Philippine constitution. Enrile was the architect of martial law, creating the legal and military framework for what would eventually be known as the Bagong Lipunan or “New Society.” According to Marcos, the New Society would transform Filipinos into strong, disciplined, and law abiding people. The instruments of change would be the armed forces and police, which Marcos would turn into the pillars of his regime.

Ferdinand Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile By the early 1980’s, cracks began to appear in Marcos’ rule. The Philippine economy, once one of Asia’s fastest growing, was in free fall and tens of millions of Filipinos lived in grinding poverty. To add insult to injury, Marcos and his family flaunted their ill gotten wealth as Filipinos faced more hardships. But the weakest link in the system was Marcos himself. He was suffering from a debilitating case of systemic lupus erythematosus, requiring kidney dialysis and extensive treatment that interfered with his ability to govern. Worst of all, he had alienated key figures responsible for upholding his regime. Defense Secretary Enrile, author of martial law, was isolated and dissatisfied with his position within the government. Marcos had also passed over Fidel V Ramos, a distant relative and high ranking general, for promotion to AFP Chief of Staff in favor of the incompetent but loyal Fabian Ver.

Fabian Ver

An even more volatile element was added to this combustible mix of power politics. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan was a young, ambitious, and charismatic military officer whose career, along with many others in his generation, had been put on hold by Marcos’ preference for older, more reliable cronies. The President refused to allow Honasan and other young officers to rise in rank lest they displace the power and positions of older generals and admirals personally loyal to him. Honasan created a secret organization within the military which came to be known as RAM, the Reform of the Armed Forces Movement. RAM was filled by angry young officers, many from elite Special Forces units, all eager for a chance to shake up the military and government hierarchy. Defense Secretary Enrile was quick to see the potential in such a group and quietly cultivated Honasan as his protégé.

Gringo Honasin

As Marcos’ health declined, the power of the opposition grew, especially around the fiery and eloquent Senator Ninoy Aquino. Aquino had been imprisoned during the 70’s but released and sent to the United States for a life-saving operation. There, he became a lightning rod of opposition against Marcos’ regime. Upon his return to the Philippines on August 21, 1983, he was assassinated, with the culprits responsible for ordering his death unknown to this day. In the court of public opinion, Marcos was guilty of Ninoy’s death and rather than squelching the opposition, resistance to his rule increased, now coalescing around Ninoy’s widow, Corazon Aquino. This was the stage in the middle of the 1980’s in the waning years of the Marcos regime. Enrile and Honasan were biding their time for an opportune moment to strike at the ailing dictator, knowing the poor state of his health. At the same time, Cory Aquino had become the face of the opposition. Because of her status as a housewife, political outsider, and widow of the martyred Ninoy, she proved extremely difficult for Marcos loyalists to attack or defame. Showing one final spark of the political daring and intuition that brought him to the Presidency two decades before, Marcos called for a snap election to prove once again his popularity and mandate to rule. As Cory and Marcos began to campaign, Enrile and Honasan began planning a coup. All their destinies would come together during four spectacular days from February 22 to 25, 1986. Corazon Aquino waves to the crowds at the victorious conclusion of EDSA Fearful of the real result, Marcos and his loyalists rigged the election in their favor. The fraudulent Marcos victory was denounced by international observers and the Philippines’ own Committee on Elections, or COMELEC. The powerful Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines also opposed the result. But the real action would come from Enrile and Honasan’s disgruntled rebel officers. Sensing the regime’s weakness, Honasan planned a coup in which the commandos would seize Malacanang Palace, TV stations, and key military bases around Metro Manila. It’s an important point to remember that EDSA did not begin as a spontaneous expression of people power against dictatorship. In its original form, the toppling of Marcos would have been a violent takeover with Filipinos killing each other in the streets of Manila. Unfortunately for the would-be revolutionaries, and miraculously for the Filipino people, loyalist officers discovered Honasan’s plans and Marcos ordered the arrest of Honasan and the other coup leaders. Enrile and Honasan scrambled as Marcos turned the tables on them. It was now, that Enrile showed his skills as a consummate politician and insider. He contacted Fidel Ramos, head of the Philippine Constabulary (today the PNP) and asked for his support. The rebels who had once planned to attack the Presidential Palace now holed up inside Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. Though Marcos could have ordered his vastly superior forces to crush the rebels immediately, he opted to negotiate. It was a critical error. Ramos and Enrile bought time negotiating with the dictator as Ramos convinced military units all over the country to change sides. Ramos was still resentful of being passed over for the top job in the Philippine military, AFP Chief of Staff, and was far more respected in the military than Fabian Ver, Marcos’ top crony in uniform. The most powerful endorsement of the rebels came from Jaime Cardinal Sin. Cardinal Sin and other church leaders urged their parishes and religious orders to go out and support the rebels, even at personal risk. Led by priests, monks, and nuns, some two millions Filipinos streamed onto EDSA, concentrating around Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. Now, even if Marcos ordered his men to attack, they would not be able to defeat the rebels without killing untold numbers of fellow Filipinos. With Enrile, Ramos, Cardinal Sin, and the teeming millions of Metro Manila out in the streets against him, the balance of power had shifted decisively against Marcos. Military units faded away and joined the rebels until finally, Marcos was only master of Malacanang. A US military helicopter whisked him and his family out of the palace to a base in Ilocos, then to a plane towards exile in Hawaii. In the next few days, thousands of Filipino would wander wide eyed through Malacanang Palace, discovering Marcos’ dialysis machine and Imelda’s infamous shoe collection. After two decades in power, the most formidable President in modern Philippine history practically faded away. Though the plot devised to overthrow him called for violence and bloodshed, there had been virtually none. The most iconic images of this peaceful revolution would come from EDSA itself, where nuns prayed the rosary in the face of soldiers and tanks. It was not hyperbole for many Filipinos to describe the events of the EDSA revolution as a miracle. Continuing the dictatorship, civil war, and all the worst case scenarios involving bloodshed and loss of life had been avoided. Perhaps the political miracle was the involvement of millions of Filipinos once the revolution was underway. The presence of the masses in the revolution transformed what would have been a violent, selfish grab for power by Marcos insiders into a noble, heroic effort where the Filipino people were the true heroes. Because of “People Power”, Cory Aquino would become President and return legitimate, constitutional government to the Philippines. The age of martial law and military rule was firmly ended. Because of the unlikely, maybe even miraculous events of EDSA, young Filipinos grew up in a country that was not destroyed by civil war or still enduring a corrupt dictatorship. A fragile respect for the rule of law returned to the country after EDSA, spearheaded by Cory Aquino and other reformers, seeking to repair the damage done by martial law. Of course, EDSA did not right all the wrongs done during martial law. Many of those who disappeared were never found and many who had committed terrible crimes were never brought to justice. The Marcos family, for better or for worse, has returned to politics. Imelda Marcos is a representative in Congress, with son Bongbong a Senator, and daughter Imee governor of the province of Ilocos Norte. The Aquinos became a political dynasty of the first class because of the actions of Ninoy, then Cory once she was President. Corazon Aquino and her son Benigno Aquino III are the only mother and son to have become Presidents of the Philippines. For Ramos, because of his leadership during EDSA and the respect he commanded in the military, he became Defense Secretary under Corazon Aquino, then President in his own right in 1992. Gringo Honasan and Juan Ponce Enrile are still in politics as well, both as senators. Though some of its key figures are still with us, the EDSA revolution is gradually fading into the background. While it was imperfect, it remains an example of how a nation can avoid breaking upon the rocks of civil war and domestic strife. For Filipinos too young to remember or who were born afterward, we owe a peaceful childhood and upbringing to those three days in February thirty years ago.

EDSA will continue to be the standard for what Filipinos were at their best, what they should be, and what they can be again.

#AmIFilAm "Hello, halo-halo: mixed-race, multi-ethnic, but always Filipina" by Stephanie Chrispin

The below submission is one of future stories to be told under the #AmIFilAm blog series.  

Inspired by our past blog series #FKEDUP, UniPro wants to delve deeper into identity struggles that all Filipinos face in the community. We want to challenge what it means to be Filipino and to encourage readers to contribute their unique qualities to shape the idea of Filipino identity. The series is intended to discover how you value yourself as an individual and how you value yourself within the Filipino community.


When I was growing up, I never saw it as a big deal that my parents were from different countries; it was just a fact of life. The privilege of growing up in New York City meant that more often than not, my friends’ parents were immigrants like mine. Everyone had weird food, so it wasn’t like my butter and sugar sandwiches were that much out of place, and all of my friends’ parents sent their kids to Catholic school, so we all wore the same ugly plaid jumpers.

What did stick out was that my parents didn’t “match”—as an interracial couple in the 80s and 90s, my Filipina mother and Haitian father made a striking picture walking down the street. They didn’t think of themselves as vanguards though; it was more important to them that their children grew up to be American, and to be fiercely proud of themselves.  We grew up eating lambi and kaldereta at the same dinner table, just another day in the life of the Chrispin family.

I only became acutely aware of my unique upbringing when I went to college. Not like I went far—oh no, this native-born New Yorker was much too cosmopolitan to abandon her hometown for somewhere as exotic as the Midwest. But my first few months at Fordham University brought with it a varied onslaught of microaggressions that I’d never encountered before:


“Where are you from? No, really from?”

“Wow, I thought you were [insert random country of choice]. You’re so exotic.”

[After touching me without my permission] “Your hair is softer than I thought it’d be.”

“That’s a crazy mix! How did your parents even meet, aren’t Haiti and the Philippines on other sides of the globe?”

“Did you pick a side? Like are you more Haitian or more Filipino?”

Of course, I met these queries and comments with the appropriate levels of side-eye, snark, and long suffering sighs. You can only politely demure so many times, murmuring,

“Oh thank you, yes my heritage is pretty unusual. My parents met at work, haha—my mom is a nurse and dad’s a doctor, so it was meant to be!”

It got to a point where my ethnic background became my default answer for ice breakers, since being mixed automatically solicited oohs and ahhs from the room.

These sorts of encounters weren’t isolated to my white classmates, either. Fordham’s black students were few and far between, with fellow Caribbean-Americans rarer still. When I did hang out with them, I felt like an imposter, since my experience of growing up a multi-cultural mixed girl in New York City didn’t match up with their experience raised as Black Americans; it felt like they were speaking in code.

Funny enough, I felt most at home when I found Fordham’s Philippine American Club (FUPAC). Being mixed was less of an issue, especially since I wasn’t the only hapa[1] there. I also never felt the cultural dissonance that arose when I was in Black-identified spaces—the shared experience of being a second generation Filipino American were strong enough to bond me with my other Fil-Am classmates despite only having one Filipino parent. The cultural club let me explore my identity as a Filipina-American without discounting my mixed heritage by providing safe spaces for learning and community building.

The Bayanihan spirit is distinctly Filipino in its all-encompassing welcome—

for me, it was never an issue of “how Filipino are you;”

if you identify with Filipinos, you are Filipino.

As a diasporic people, Filipinos manage to maintain their bayanihan[2] even when living in foreign lands or marrying outside their culture. Only a heritage that is flexible and resilient could survive waves of colonization and coerced assimilation to retain its collective spirit across the globe! My experiences with FUPAC would be the catalyst for my work with the Fil-Am community—I always feel welcome in Pinoy spaces, and I seek to extend this communal spirit to other mixed Filipino Americans.



I’m proud to be a Haitian-Filipina-American, and hope to pay it forward to my kababayans[3] through UniPro and other means of serving my Filipino-American community.



[1] Being of mixed race

[2] Tagalog for community

[3] Tagalog for fellow Filipinos

Five Amazing Things to Look Forward to at Summit 2015: Recognize


by Mark Libatique Conferences are what our older cousins went to, a thing of the past. This is Summit 2015: Recognize. Here are some of the most exciting things to expect at this year’s edition of UniPro’s premier event.


You’ll Find Your Career Launchpad.

Seriously. Whether you’re in the early stages of finding your footing in your industry of choice, knee-deep in its trenches or simply looking for guidance, you’ll meet who you’ll need to at Summit: Recognize. Experts and authorities in media, community organizing, policy, food, and tech will be in attendance. You’ll want to be there too.

Filipino Kitchen

Filipino Kitchen's Maja Blanca Pancakes and Longanisa Scotch Eggs

Food. Pagkain. Sarap-ness.

Never a bad place to inject the best of Pilipino culture. Summit: Recognize will feature the up-and-coming best of America’s new favorite cuisine. Famed Filipino Kitchen will be hosting a workshop, and you’ll get a chance to get a cup full of your favorite Baonanas flavors.

Summit 2015 Raffle

Free Ticket to the Philippines. Yeah.

Thanks to Philippine Airlines, one delegate will win a free round-trip ticket to the Philippines. Registrants to Summit: Recognize will automatically be entered to win, and you can up your chances by purchasing more raffle tickets at Summit.

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Not Your Ordinary Minority Panel.

With Summit: Recognize, we’ll shift our focus as Filipinos to our role within the greater community of color that makes up minority America. There’s never been a more important time in our history to do so, and you’ll be at the forefront of it. Take a look at our amazing panel speakers.

Summit 2014 Delegates

Our delegates at Summit 2014

You’ll Probably Meet Someone Who Needs You.

We come from all fields and industries, and we’re quickly realizing that in order to be recognized, we must recognize each other. The technical term for it is “networking,” but we do it differently. These relationships last, and can produce life-changing personal results for you that will continue for years. Trust us. You might change someone’s life at Summit, too.

*To register for Summit, go to uniprosummit2015.eventbrite.com. *TODAY ONLY, 5/27: Graduation Flash Sale - $15 Off Summit Tickets

UniPro and NYU IFA Host the 2015 Opportunity Fair


New York, NY – Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro) in collaboration with New York University’s International Filipino Association (NYU IFA) will be hosting the 2015 Opportunity Fair on Sunday, March 8th at the NYU Palladium Hall from 12:00pm until 5:00pm. This free event will showcase companies and organizations looking to hire passionate students and young professionals. UniPro and NYU IFA hope that this event can empower young Pilipino Americans in finding success in their careers while also attaining visibility for the community throughout various industries. The 2015 Opportunity Fair is a unique event, featuring an array of opportunities that include jobs, internships, fellowships, as well as immersion programs. The fair is also a great way to connect and network with individuals hailing from different industries and career sectors. There will also be professionals conducting on-site resume reviews for individuals looking to improve their resumes.

To further engage the attendees, there will be a workshop as well as two panels geared towards career building and professional development. UniPro’s Maria Cruz Lee and Edsel Batucan, along with Cris Mercado of GrantAnswers, will be facilitating a workshop titled, “Where I’m At: Personal Branding & Navigating the Market,” which aims to offer practical career advice and strategies for students and recent graduates. Following the workshop is the first panel “Who Run the World: Leadership & the Power of Networks,” featuring professionals who completed prestigious fellowships and leadership programs such as the Civic Corps, FYLPro, and Fulbright programs. The second panel, “Lemme Upgrade: The Journey to a Higher Degree,” will feature panelists and their journeys toward their degrees in law, medicine, and public administration.

Confirmed organizations and companies that will be present at the 2015 Opportunity Fair include: Ameriasian, Anakbayan NY/NJ, BuzzFeed, GrantWriters, J3PERSONICA, Kinding Sindaw, Legacy NY, Jeepney/Maharlika, NextDayBetter, Pagasa Social Foundation Inc., Philippine-American Friendship Committee (PAFCOM), United Federation of Fil-Am Educators (UNIFFIED), the Social Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Small Business Administration, and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Representatives will also be in attendance for fellowship programs such as Civic Corps, the NYU Leadership Initiative, Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, as well as the Kaya Collaborative Immersion Program.

Event details:

2015 Opportunity Fair

NYU Palladium Hall (140 E. 14th St.)

Sunday, March 8, 2015, 12:00 - 5:00pm

For more information and to register for the upcoming 2015 Opportunity Fair, head over to the 2015 Opportunity Fair Eventbrite page.