Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leader: Ivin Dysangco

IvinAge: 25 Hometown: Lucban, Quezon, Philippines Current residence: Pensacola, Florida United States Naval Academy, 2012 Information Technology major

Meet Ivin Dysancgo, a naval flight officer in the US Navy. He is currently completing training in Pensacola – this involves acquiring flight hours in various types of aircraft and learning navigation, emergency procedure and other technological support for pilots. A typical workday may start as early as 3:00AM, and usually lasts for twelve hours. Despite the high levels of stress associated with his job, he enjoys it.

“It’s amazing being in the air. If I see something [interesting] from the air, I try to drive there later to see what it looks like on the ground,” Dysangco explains with some laughter. He hopes to work with special forces or the Coast Guard upon completing training.

Involvement in the Fil-Am community After attending the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, Rhode Island, he went to the Naval Academy, where he studied IT, engineering, navigation, leadership, and military law. Aside from academics, Dysangco and his friends sought out a Filipino community to get involved with. While at NAPS, they learned about the Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue (FIND) and decided to drive a total of 16 hours over a weekend to attend the conference in Maryland. While there, they networked with UniPro and other Fil-Am leaders.

“Once we got to the Academy, we looked for a Filipino group. But, it wasn’t as active as we wanted to be. So, we restarted the club,” Dysanco explains.

Dysangco and his friends wanted the freshmen to get involved early, so they could network and become leaders for the organization. So, they’d send them as delegates to attend FIND and other related events. In order to get the community involved, they invited the Filipina aunties that worked in the galley to their meetings. The midshipmen (a term for ‘students’ at the Academy) shared the things they missed from home, including Filipino food. Soon, the aunties were bringing Filipino dishes to their events.

“We’d go in the back kitchen and there would be a lot of Filipinos and food there,” Dysangco adds proudly. The revamped organization now welcomes all members from the community, not just students. They have a Naval Officer representative as a member, who invites midshipmen over for home-cooked meals. They’ve hosted guest speakers, including one of the highest-ranking Filipino-American officers, to talk about life as a Fil-Am in the Navy.

A passion for photography

In addition to getting involved with the Fil-Am community at the Academy, he also developed a love for photography.

Shortly after a visit to the White House with his sponsor family, which resulted in poorly photographed photos as keepsakes, Dysangco decided he wanted to be able to take nice photos. So, he invested in a better quality camera and began taking photos of buildings. He then reached out to the USNA Public Affairs Office at the Academy, and was taken under the chief officer’s wing. He has photographed important meetings and events with government officials, including the Secretaries of Defense and the Navy, admirals and generals.

“If you’re in public affairs, you get full access to anything. So, it made it easier to talk to those big people,” Dysangco notes. His photography career has since expanded to fashion and portrait photography.

“When you’re taking photos, you get to meet interesting people and travel,” Dysangco adds. He’s thankful for his passion for photography, because it has allowed him to network with many people to discuss their mistakes and advice. One influential individual, the former Commandant of the Naval Academy, offered him some quite memorable advice.

“He told me, ‘respect everyone that you meet, because you don’t know where they’ve been or where they came from,’” Dysangco reflects. He admires the Commandant for his approachability and understanding of students, despite having a high rank in comparison to midshipmen attending the academy.

Advice for fellow Fil-Ams and Pilipinos Dysangco is glad he has found a way to fit his interests into his career in the Navy. He notes that with photography, he’s been able to travel and see things that people don’t typically get to see. He views his job as a naval flight officer as a form of photography too, as he gets to travel and see spectacular views from the air; he especially loves flying during sunset. From all of his experiences thus far, he offers the following advice to other emerging leaders.

“Whatever you do, don’t think about the money. Choose a job that you enjoy. Try to find something [where] every time you go, it doesn’t feel like a job. If you have a passion for it, then your passion is going to take care of you.”

Photo credit: Oreo Ortega

The State of Undocumented Immigrants

Note from the Editor: This post was submitted by emerging leader, Adinah Lagud. Adinah will be attending the upcoming State of Undocumented Immigrant Rights and Resources at the Philippine Consulate on April 18 at 6PM. Click here for more information about the event, to which you are invited to attend. The immigration debate, in recent weeks has garnered a substantial amount of attention in Congress. Though not a new issue, this increased attention was brought about by a bipartisan group in Congress known as the “Gang of Eight”. These members have been working on an all-inclusive immigration reform plan to present to Congress. With the rekindling of this national argument, I believe that it is particularly important for young leaders in the New York community, i.e. college students and Filipino organizations, to become actively engaged and cognizant of an issue that directly impacts the future of the Filipino and Fil-Am community.

As a leader in my own Filipino organization at Stony Brook University, I’ll readily admit if I was asked about my views on immigration a year ago today, I would have shrugged my shoulders in indifference. Not because I didn’t care about those struggling around me, but because I did not take the time to educate myself in order to formulate an opinion. I had ignorantly viewed “illegal” immigration as a matter pertinent to the west coast and their undocumented workers. After all, growing up in a conservative Southern town, that was dialogue surrounding me. I didn’t realize that the Philippines came in second (only after Mexico) in the number of annually distributed family based visas. These are the same visas that some members of Congress are looking to decrease. Not to mention that some petitions dating back to 1990 are still backlogged, so Filipinos have been waiting over twenty years to be reunited with their families.

In regards to undocumented immigrants living in the United States, people who relocated here as minors are able to apply for President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” but only a little over 3,000 undocumented Filipinos have applied nationwide. To put this into context, 2009’s estimated amount of unauthorized immigrants from the Philippines was 270,000. It’s safe to assume, many are not taking advantage of the resources available to them. Whether it is caused by fear, shame, misunderstanding, or pride, immigration reform is not a topic limited to other minority groups, we Filipinos are standing at the forefront of this issue.

I urge young adults, students, and Filipino clubs to take this up as an important issue to be educated on. We need to support organizations and institutions in our community who are working towards creating a viable way to distribute information and resources on immigration. If we collectively become informed and engaged on this debate, we have the power to thwart incorrect assumptions on undocumented immigrants and the immigration process as a whole within the Filipino and New York community. Adinah Photo