x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Filipino community group aims for social centre

The governing board for a Filipino community groups was elected on Friday evening.

Janice Ong casts her vote at the Filipino consulate in Dubai yesterday.
Janice Ong casts her vote at the Filipino consulate in Dubai yesterday.

DUBAI //A new social centre is a priority for the first governing council of a Filipino community group, elected in Dubai yesterday evening.

Filcom Dubai-NE, which serves as an umbrella for 99 Filipino community groups, supports the programmes and activities of the Philippine consulate in Dubai.

Twenty member organisations vied for the top 12 seats on the group's first governing council.

The groups that won two-year terms in the ballot were the St Mary's Filipino Community Choir, Filipino Human Resources Practitioners' Association, Filipino Dubai Teachers Association, Samahang Kababayan, United Filipinos Foundation and Filipino Computer Club.

Six others - the Filipino Off Road Auto Club, Lambunaonons in the UAE, Migrante-UAE, Filipino Club -RAK, Impok Kapuso Kapamilya at Kaibigan and Overseas Filipino Civil Engineers Association - will serve one-year terms.

Next Friday the 12 elected members will choose a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, auditor and committee chairmen.

Matilyn Bagunu, the programme director of St Mary's Filipino Community Choir, which received 52 votes, said the win was overwhelming."I really didn't expect us to get the highest number of votes," Ms Bagunu, 39, said.

Her group is aiming for the creation of a Filipino social club in Dubai. "But we can't decide on it now," Ms Bagunu said.

Jerry Tan, 52, the president of Dubai Pinoy Expat Tennis Club, said: "It's unfortunate that we still do not have our own social club unlike the Egyptians and other expatriate groups in the UAE. I'd like our governing council to push through with previous plans to build one."

Ansar Damsani, 57, the president of the Overseas Filipino Muslim Association, added: "Our community is growing. We badly need to build a community centre to host our weekly programmes and sports activities, and showcase or sell Filipino products."

Manuel Cordova, 40, an electrical technician in Dubai, said the centre would mean a lot to domestic workers on their days off.

"It can also be a place where people can run to when they have problems," said Mr Cordova, who is the president of Samahang Kababayan (Group of Countrymen).

Sheryll Bacay, 33, the president of the Filipino Human Resources Practitioners' Association, said a social club would help unite the 99 community groups.

"The Filcom is like our second family," Ms Bacay said. "But we should serve its purpose, to help and upgrade the skills of our countrymen and make this umbrella organisation world class."

Benito Valeriano, the Philippine consul general in Dubai, said he fully supported the community's call for a social club.

"I'm dreaming of it," he said. "But it's a community initiative. On their own, I know they can do it."

rruiz@thenational.ae