“X” celebrates ten years of UniPro history, community, and progress. As we collectively reflect on the 10th anniversary of the organization, we also enter emotionally-charged conversations that address difficult topics and varying perspectives that impact the Pilipino American community. In “X,” we invite you to engage and reflect on Experience, Exclusion, and Extension, in order to mobilize and unite our community for the next “X” years.

See our sessions and speakers: Itinerary | Keynotes | Experience | Exclusion | Extension


9:00 AM - 10:00 AM | Opening Ceremony & Keynotes
Commissioner Bitta Mostofi
Karla Puno Garcia

10:05 AM -  11:15 AM | Session 1 - Experience
Media Panel
Community Organizing Panel
Storytelling Panel

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM | Session 2 - Exclusion
Caregiving: Major General Ret. Antonio Taguba
Decolonization: Lane Wilcken
LGBTQIA+: L Tantay
Policy & Advocacy: Amplify

12:15 PM - 1:45 PM | Lunch

1:50 PM - 2:00 PM | Assembly Energizer

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM | Session 3 - Extension

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM | Closing Ceremony

5:30 PM | Happy Hour: Sweetwater Social (643 Broadway, New York, NY 10012)




Bitta is a long time immigrant rights advocate and human rights organizer. After graduating law school from DePaul University in Chicago she practiced civil rights law with a particular focus on the discriminatory impact of immigration practices on Muslim or Middle Eastern immigrants. Shortly thereafter she joined Safe Horizon and continued her legal practice representing immigrant crime victims, asylees, and others in both affirmative and defensive petitions before the immigration court. Bitta led the organization’s advocacy work on behalf of immigrant crime victims seeking U visas, including before the City and Department of Homeland Security. Along the way Bitta has continued her community organizing, increasing awareness of global human rights injustices and the plight of refugees. Since joining the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in 2014, Bitta has advanced the rights and well-being of immigrant New Yorkers. After spearheading the IDNYC outreach campaign, Bitta helped design the ActionNYC legal services program and was promoted to Assistant Commissioner of MOIA in January of 2016. In May of 2018, Mayor de Blasio appointed Bitta to Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.



Originally from The Washington DC area, Karla Puno Garcia is currently in the Broadway show Hamilton: An American Musical. Favorite performance credits include Broadway’s West Side Story, Gigi, Hot Feet, National Tours Wicked and Addams Family, NBC’s Smash, and FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance Season 5. She has a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

Karla is the recipient of the Richmond Theatre Critics ‘Best Choreography’ Award for her original work on In the Heights (Virginia Rep). Choreography credits include the Off-Broadway show One Thousand Nights and One Day, NY City Center production Gone Mission, and various music videos. Karla was one of six ‘Broadway Bound choreographers’ selected to present at the 2018 DANCEBREAK showcase. She has created work for organizations such as Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS, Trevor Project, and Katie’s Project. She is on the Theater faculty at Broadway Dance Center.

This session will look back at our community’s history and celebrate various achievements of the Pilipino American community through our panels on media, community organizing, and storytelling.

X Years of Media Panel

Celebrate the growth and diversification of Pilipino/Asian Americans who have made significant contributions to the Asian American culture in media and the arts, paving the way for future Pilipino/Asian Americans to leave their mark in the media.

BENNYROYCE ROYON is a Filipino American director, choreographer, and dancer based in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School in 2006. He has worked on Broadway (The King and I), Off-Broadway (Artist of Light), at The Metropolitan Opera, at the New York Philharmonic (The Cunning Little Vixen), and more. Royon has been noted by The New York Times for his "keenly focused, succinct way with movement." He has received commissions from Atlanta Ballet, Ballet Hispánico, Point Park University, and The Joffrey Academy of Dance to name a few. Royon has also received two CUNY Dance Initiative residencies, Velocity Dance Center’s Creative Resident Award, and The Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Works Choreography Award. In 2010, Royon founded Bennyroyce Dance, a project-based contemporary dance company, which has performed at venues in New York City including The Joyce Theater, Baruch Performing Arts Center, Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, Bryant Park Presents, and more.


FRANCESCA MANTO is a video producer/shooter/editor at Eater. She also hosts “Halo-Halo,” a series that explores the changing landscape of Filipino food in America. Previously, she worked at NowThis News as an Associate Producer on the NowThis Snapchat Discover team where she covered breaking news and the 2016 election. Francesca graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Global Studies and Digital Humanities.


Rich Tu is a VP of Design at MTV and a member of AIGA NY’s Board of Directors.

Rich is a first generation Filipino-American and award-winning artist residing in Brooklyn, NY. He is a graduate of SVA’s prestigious Illustration as Visual Essay program and received the “Young Guns” award from the Art Directors Club, which recognizes the world’s best creatives under the age of 30. Creatively, his focus is on emerging audiences and energetic brands that benefit from an eclectic and unique point of view.

Commercially, Rich’s clients include The New York Times, The New Yorker, Business Week, Alfa Romeo, Bombay Sapphire, G-Shock, Nike, Converse, American Express, NPR, NorthFace Purple Label, Coca-Cola, Verizon, Skype, Fuse TV, and Hamilton The Musical, among others. Also, he has exhibited at galleries and festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, as well as the SCOPE Miami festival, during Miami’s Art Basel week.

Additionally, he hosts a podcast called First Generation Burden, about immigrants within the creative industry.


x years of community organizing

Surround yourself and collaborate with the leaders who have helped shape the community at large, while focusing on a brighter community for the next X years.

MARK ‘TK’ LIBATIQUE has represented the Capacity Building Team at the New York Immigration Coalition since 2017. In his position, he has been involved with major regional campaigns to protects immigrant rights in the face of a hostile presidential administration. Mark is also a language teacher, and has had former lives as museum educator, news editor, and editorial consultant.


RYANN TANAP is a writer, poet, and mental wellness warrior. Beginning in her early 20s, she began to recognize the mental health challenges her peers were facing. She’s even lost friends to suicide and substance abuse. As a result, Ryann is committed to empowering others to seek help and has advocated on behalf of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, This is My Brave, and Armed Services Arts Partnership.

Ryann also works every day to prioritize the needs of communities of color and other diverse populations; in her current role at AARP, she works on multicultural outreach and engagement. She is a former Thailand teaching fellow for Global Playground and a 2017 delegate for the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) in the Philippines. Ryann holds a B.A. in international relations from The College of William and Mary.


JERRY VATTAMALA is the Director of the Democracy Program at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). Jerry has been a leader in collecting electoral data on and protecting Asian American voters, organizing AALDEF’s National Asian American Exit Poll and Voter Protection Program which deployed over 850 volunteers in 14 states and Washington DC, to survey and protect almost 14,000 Asian American voters on Election Day 2016. Jerry has also organized the Asian American community for redistricting, serving as AALDEF’s lead attorney on New York’s Favors v. Cuomo federal redistricting litigation, resulting in more Asian majority and influence districts at all legislative levels. Jerry has also testified on behalf of the Asian American community at redistricting hearings throughout the Northeast, and observed elections for compliance with state and federal voting laws across the country. Jerry litigates cases concerning violations of Sections 203 and 208 of the Voting Rights Act and regularly meets with Boards of Elections across the country to ensure full compliance with federal and local language assistance provisions and the Help America Vote Act. Jerry is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School. Prior to joining AALDEF, Jerry worked as a commercial litigator at Proskauer Rose LLP. Jerry received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Binghamton University and is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law.


Nikki Pagulayan is a born-and-raised New Yorker and activist daughter of proud yet wary immigrant parents. Her mother is a nurse, recruited to work in the U.S. post AIDS crisis in 1990. Nikki did not understand the socioeconomic and political conditions of the Philippines that shape experiences like her mother’s, and so many other Filipino migrants until joining Anakbayan New York.

She has been a community organizer with Anakbayan New York since 2015. ABNY is a local chapter of Anakbayan-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino youth and student organizations that campaign for the rights and welfare of Filipinos across the diaspora.

She has worked on local campaigns such as the Defend Woodside, an anti-gentrification effort that succeeded in stopping the expansion of a mega church, and national campaigns such as the Take Back Our Education to expose the U.S.’s inflated military budget at the expense of education and other social services.

She studied Post-Colonial Literature and Transnational Feminisms at Hunter College but owes her deepest knowledge and experience being amongst the most marginalized sectors of society. In 2017, Nikki want on an exposure trip with Anakbayan-USA to integrate among farmers, urban poor, and workers in the Philippines to learn from and share in their struggles to reclaim land and other basic rights.

In her current role as BAYAN-USA Coordinator for New York and New Jersey, Nikki works every day to unite Filipinos on issues that impact them locally and their kababayan back home. BAYAN-USA is an alliance of progressive Filipino organizations made up of youth, women, migrants, and workers, which Anakbayan-USA is a member of.

In her journey to find her roots and a place in community, Nikki found a movement that spans continents and for that she is forever grateful.


x years of storytelling

One of the biggest accomplishments of the Pilipino American community in the last X years is making the community socially aware of our identity, but there's still a vast horizon of Pilipino subcultures to explore.

ELIZA ROMERO is a blogger and podcast host who also goes by the name Aesthetic Distance. She writes and podcasts about pop culture and current events, as told from a Filipino American perspective. She has appeared on Buzzfeed News, On the Record on NPR, The New York Post, Forbes, and The Baltimore Sun. She has emceed events like the Charm City Night Market festival and has spoken at the CityLit Festival and the National Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in the Philippines. Her latest venture, Decolonize Your Bookshelves, is a Filipino American book club, and will launch in June and in partnership with Enoch Pratt Free Library and Malaya Movement. Eliza is also the Public Relations Officer for the Katipunan of Maryland, the oldest Filipino cultural organization in the state.


KRISTIAN KABUAY is a leading authority for the propagation and instruction of the prePhilippine scripts. He spent his college years in the Philippines where he honed his knowledge about the native culture. As a self-taught artist influenced by graffiti, abstract art, indigenous culture, technology, and Asian writing systems, he tirelessly advocates a reawakening of the indigenous spirit through decolonization. Kristian has self-published four books including the 1st magazine written in the native script in over 50 years and is currently working on a business book and documentary titled "Writing of the Stinky Fish.”


RICKY AGUSTIN made his name as the head bartender for Pegu Club, one of New York’s most storied and influential cocktail bars. Ricky has been at Pegu Club since 2013 and in that time has played a number of roles, including a brief window of time where he served as Pegu’s manager. In addition to his role at Pegu, Ricky has consulted on the development of other New York bars, including the notorious Suffolk Arms in the LES, and was the brains behind a number of memorable cocktail pop-ups in bar basements and rooftops across the city. Ricky has also participated in educational outreach at The International Culinary Center, The Institute for Culinary Education (curriculum development), and The Bar Institute conference in Baltimore. His impeccable drink styling was featured in the coffee table book “Winter Drinks” by the editors of Punch Magazine, released September 2018. He has been referred to in print as “NYC’s best bartender” and “mixology’s dopplegangsta”.


This session will analyze the harmful and hurtful levels in which Pilipino Americans have been excluded. Attendees will also examine challenging topics that are left unsaid or taboo in our community.




Major General Antonio “Tony” Taguba serves as a Community Ambassador for AARP. After his parents became ill, he and his siblings were ill - prepared to care for them. Faced with tough decisions about their health and finances, they managed to care for them the best they could. To help others, General Taguba now advocates for caregivers and their families.

Born in Manila, Philippines in 1950, General Taguba joined the U.S. Army after graduating from Idaho State University in 1972. He served in numerous command and staff position up to General Officer level. His service tours included assignments in the continental United States, South Korea, Germany, and Kuwait.

General Taguba is the second Philippine-born U.S. citizen to be promoted to the officer rank of General in the U.S. Army. He received numerous military awards, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), the Legion of Merit (4 awards), the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6 awards), the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge. He retired in January 1, 2007 having served 34 years on active duty as a decorated officer with the rank of Major General and an advocate for breaking down racial and ethnic barriers in the military.




is a scholar, cultural tattoo practitioner and advocate for the the critically endangered practice of "batok" or cultural tattoos of the Philippines. He also has studied other related indigenous traditions of the Philippines and greater Pacific with nearly three decades of research and experience. His mother is from the Philippines and his father is of English and Scandinavian descent. Lane is the author of "Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern" -and- "The Forgotten Children of Maui." He is also a contributing writer to "Back from the Crocodile's Belly: Philippine Babaylan Studies and the Struggle for Indigenous Memory" and "Shamanic Transformations: True Stories of the Moment of Awakening," as well as several articles for various magazines and journals




(pronouns they/them/theirs) is an applied theatre artist and is one of the co-facilitators for the multigenerational theatre troupe the TransGenerational Theatre Project in NYC (in collaboration with SAGE.) They received their M.A. in Applied Theatre from CUNY School of Professional Studies. L is also currently the Gender Justice Manager at the NYC Health Department and is the acting LGBTQ Liaison for the agency. Previously, they were the Youth Pride Coordinator at CANDLE in Rockland County, NY. L has also volunteered for FAHSI (Filipino American Human Services Inc.), co-facilitating their Leading Youth to Find Empowerment (LYFE) Program. L was also on the Board of Kalusugan Coalition, an organization dedicated to improving health outcomes for Filipino Americans.

policy & advocacy


is an education and 501(c)(3) organization that empowers underserved Asian Pacific American youth to become social justice leaders. By helping them recognize their leadership potential and ability to change the world, we give a voice to the needs of our community.

After having examined the trajectory of our community during Experience and Exclusion, it is necessary to move collectively towards thoughtful progress. This session will allow the time necessary to think tank tangible ways for all of us Pilipino Americans to move into the next X years.