“Mabuhay” is a Filipino greeting that roughly translates to “live long.” It’s a term that can also describe the Filipino Community of Guam (FCG), an organization that was established in 1954 that more than 60 years later still serves as the umbrella organization for many different Filipino civic groups on island.
FCG Vice President Norman Analista said his group also still serves the same basic purpose: to unite Filipinos for community service projects and social and cultural celebrations that provide value to the lives of all the people of Guam. “The method that we try to do that is through fundraising events, cultural showcases…basically anything that we feel provides some impact.”
Analista was hard-pressed to name the most significant charitable efforts over the years, as there are simply too many to choose from. But just during his tenure over for the past few years, he rattled off quite a few monetary and in-kind contributions: free medical screening, college scholarships, disaster relief, island beautification, and donations to needy families to pay for medical emergencies.
The FCG’s sponsorship decisions are typically made by committee, and with so many groups represented, it sometimes can be a challenge to “get everybody to operate on the same sheet of music,” Analista said, adding it’s because everyone at the table has their own priorities. “But it’s really about how best are we going to work as a group, and who can best communicate how we’re going to get to those goals.”
He cited a classic metaphor to explain his organization. “I think I would describe the FCG as a massive ship. In order for that ship to turn, you’re going to have to do it really slowly. Otherwise it’s going to topple over.” Analista said every administration has “different styles, different methods” while the current leadership team “truly understands its strengths and weaknesses.”
Analista is part of a new generation of leaders for the FCG. “My parents migrated to Guam in the 60’s, so I was born and raised [here]. Myself and two other officers are the only ones who have that background. Everyone else migrated here as adults. So it’s very interesting to see the difference in perspectives and the way we go about conducting our business. For those who grew up on Guam, we are more ‘westernized’ so there’s a more direct way of approaching issues. The Filipino way is more indirect. Sometimes the differences can cause friction, but in a lot of situations, we learn from one another. So being able to reach common ground and understanding how to approach people from different angles make the experience more enriching,” he explained.
Over the years the Filipino community has grown, and there are many second-, third-, and fourth-generation Filipinos like Analista, who were born and raised on Guam. The FCG is looking to them to become future members. “What can we do to instill cultural pride in those generations of Filipinos who don’t know how to speak the [Filipino] language, who don’t recognize the national dances and songs? It has to be done in a way that’s going to be enticing and modern. And there really has to be a concerted effort because these sorts of things are not going to happen overnight,” Analista emphasized.
Most will want to strike a balance between their ethnic heritage and being a productive member of the community of Guam. “If they do want to get involved and give back to the island community, this would be a way they can do it. If they have it in themselves, they should consider being a part of a group like the FCG so their talents and energy can be put to good use. But they need to decide for themselves—go to an event, a meeting, a showcase so they can get a frame of reference if it’s right for them.
“So there’s a lot of things that we can learn from the older generations of Filipinos, and I think there’s a lot of things that they can learn from us as well,” Analista said.
He also believes the original purpose of the group should remain, because just like in previous decades there are still Filipino contract workers in construction and nursing that the FCG can welcome and help assimilate into the local community. “But I think the FCG has certainly matured from where it was 60-plus years ago.”
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