x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Plans for Filipino social club get a boost

As Filipinos prepare to celebrate a year-end community programme next month, plans are in place for a Filipino social club to be built in the emirate.

DUBAI // After 20 years on the drawing board, plans to build a Filipino social club to serve Dubai and the Northern Emirates are gathering steam as a representative of the consulate prepares to meet authorities to secure a plot of land from the Government.

Analiza Magno Concepcion, the chairman of an organising committee that governs 90 Filipino groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, said creating such a hub was the "ultimate goal" of her one-year term.

The Philippine consul-general, Benito Valeriano, is to meet Dubai authorities this week to discuss the issue.

"It's easy for us to build it, once we secure a plot from the authorities," said Ms Concepcion, who will also attend the meeting. "If 400,000 Filipinos here donate Dh5 each, it would definitely be a good start."

In November last year, Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE, said that establishing community centres in the different emirates, where her compatriots could meet, was a top priority.

"We should all work together in achieving this goal," Ms Princesa said this week. "If allowed by the local authorities, these centres would be a good way to showcase our world-class products, conduct financial literacy courses and other reintegration programmes."

Jun Tupas, 56, a regional quality manager in Dubai who has lived in the UAE for the past 26 years, said the project was great news for the Filipino community.

"We've been dreaming about a Filipino social club for the past 20 years," he said.

"It will be an ideal place for the heads of the community organisations to meet in and conduct training programmes, and for our compatriots to engage in social, cultural and sport activities."

To kickstart the financial drive, the community is preparing for the Bayanihan 2010 celebration, to be held on December 10 at The Philippine School in Rashidiya district. The day will serve as an important fundraiser for the social club, Ms Princesa said.

Nicasio Atienza, 43, a maintenance engineer in Dubai, runs the Dubai chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and said its members would support the campaign to raise funds for the proposed club.

"It was a dream of those who lived and worked here for many years," he said. "The former leaders of the community had earlier attempted to work on this project, but it didn't materialise."

Grayson Servinas, 29, a warehouse manager in Dubai and a co-founder of the Confederation of Ilocano Associations in Dubai, said his organisation would pitch in with fundraising. "It would be great to have our own place for conferences and other social gatherings," he said.

Most of the 600,000 Filipinos who live and work in the Emirates are located in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, according to a 2008 stock estimate by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in Manila. About 120,000 are in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.