x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New leader for Filipino umbrella organisation

Choir director Matilyn Bagunu hopes to have everyone on FilCom governing council singing from the same songbook.

Officials count the ballots after yesterday's election for the FilCom governing council at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai.
Officials count the ballots after yesterday's election for the FilCom governing council at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Dubai.

DUBAI // The newly elected president of a Filipino umbrella group wants to reach out to the community and promote transparency and fairness.

Matilyn Bagunu, 40, received six out of nine votes in yesterday's election at the Philippine overseas labour office in Al Ghusais. The Dubai resident will head the 12-person governing council of FilCom for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, which serves as an umbrella for 83 Filipino community groups and supports the programmes and activities of the Philippine consulate in Dubai.

"We will create more committees in the governing council so that we involve other members in the FilCom in our decision-making process," said Ms Bagunu, the governing council's representative from St Mary's Filipino Community Choir.

"At the moment, our focus is on helping our compatriots who were badly hit by typhoons back home."

Task Force Habagat, a disaster co-ordination committee, was formed this month to raise funds and send relief material to flood victims in the Philippines.

Six new members of the governing council were also elected yesterday. Fourteen member organisations vied for six seats. The six groups that won two-year terms were Alpha Phi Omega UAE Alumni Association, Kapuso, Kapamilya and Kaibigan, Mindanao State University Alumni Association-UAE, CIASI 61892 International, Filipino DanceSport & Social Club and Cordillerans-UAE.

Ms Bagunu, who works as a financial consultant and has lived in the emirate for 18 years, said the governing council will come up with "unified" decisions in its activities and projects.

"We'll be more open and transparent," she said. "We'll try to avoid issues such as members questioning financial reports and the minutes of the meetings."

Offering advice to his successor as president, Alan Bacason, who held the post for one year, said: "I had a good relationship with many organisations so I hope she will reach out to them and let them feel their importance."

The other elected officers were Albert Regencia of Alpha Phi Omega UAE Alumni Association, vice president; Ronald Aquino of the CIASI, secretary; Angie Lozada of the Filipino DanceSport & Social Club, treasurer; and Letty Maniaul of Filipino Dubai Teachers’ Association, internal auditor.

Vilma Rull, 46, president of the FilCom member group Kapuso, Kapamilya and Kaibigan, would like the new governing council to continue supporting welfare projects.

"Many Filipinas are approaching me for help," she said. "Let's continue assisting runaway workers and victims of calamities."

But Tinette Pudda, president of the non-profit FilCom member Trainings and Opportunities for Pinoys Abroad, said FilCom should first clean house and do away with internal disagreements and politicking among its members.

"We are not a political group or business entity," she said from Manila. "Filcom is about volunteerism and giving back to society. The focus should be on this and not on self-promotion of individuals and groups."

Ms Bagunu said: "We can't do anything if some have personal grudges against others within the FilCom. As long as the whole FilCom is not affected, we'll just have to leave it as it is. We just need to be good role models in the community."

rruiz@thenational.ae