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Text and Photo credit Gene Alcantara
Now in its seventh year of existence, the European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) held its Annual General Assembly and European Conference in London in October 2019.
Attended by representatives from Austria, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom the event held at Baden Powell House, South Kensington was hosted by ENFiD-UK, led by Chair Christian Estrada with assistance from his Board of Trustees.
The annual gathering allows leaders from the Filipino communities across Europe to come together face to face to review their work of the past year, to discuss common issues, and to formulate strategies on how to meet the challenges of a constantly changing environment politically, economically, socially and technologically both back home and in our host countries. Brexit of course is on the horizon which will impact on everybody’s lives across Europe.
The event started with ENFID EU & ENFID UK Boards of Trustees paying a courtesy call at the Philippine Embassy in London, UK to brief Deputy Chief of Mission Ambassador Frank Cimafranca and Minister/Consul Arlene Macaisa on the organisation, and being welcomed warmly to the UK in turn.
During the conference, ENFiD focussed a lot on leadership issues and on emotional intelligence, with invited professional speakers from the National Health Service, ABS-CBN Europe (Luis Bariuan, Director), entrepreneur (Rowena Romulo, Romulo Cafe), and local politics (Mayor Cllr Danny Favor, East Grinstead). The sessions formed part of ENFiD’s continuing education push for European Filipinos along side its projects focussing on the youth (YENFiD) and senior or elderly citizens (SENFiD) in Europe, and classrooms in the Philippines.
During the AGA, ENFiD spent sometime reviewing the events and controversies that had beset it in the past year. It was important for everyone to contemplate their navel, and to learn from any mistakes and errors within the organisation in order to emerge stronger, more united and more focussed. It has after all a membership comprising around 16 countries, each with their own specific cultures, languages and issues, but held together by bonds of Filipinoness. And because it is a relatively young organisation which has yet to establish it can deal with issues, problems and criticisms in a mature and professional manner.
Elections were held to the ENFiD EU Board of Directors, with the following voted in for a 2 year term from 2019-2021:
Leonor Vintervoll, Norway
Michelle Marquez , Czechia
Eppie Balagasay , Switzerland
Mary Grace Schardin , Germany
Florisa de Jesus, Malta
Ronald Sipat, UK
Marvin Gil, Iceland
Ariel Lachica, Italy
The newly elected Members will join the existing ENFiD EU Board Members who will continue to serve from 2019-2020:
Ric Gacayan, UK
Annie Estricomen, France
Rafaelito Gomez, France
Marizel Rojas, Austria
Dorie Poloczek, Germany
Ana Bel Mayo, Italy
Diane Halmans, Netherlands.
A highlight of the annual event was the Tala talent competition which saw six fabulous singers from Italy, Malta, Germany, Austria and the UK compete for the title Tala (Star) 2019 which was eventually won by Aldrin Dagui from London with his astounding version of ‘Anak’ (Child) by Freddie Aguilar.
The 3 day event culminated in a Gala Night held at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel with dinner and entertainment, which allowed ENFiDers to socialize with the Filipino community and friends.
The United Kingdom has the largest Filipino population in Europe with an estimated 350,000, followed by Italy with an estimated 200,000. Malta, a small country, has also the smallest Filipino community with around 2,000 but it is important as ENFiD is registered with the Malta Commission on Voluntary Organisations as a charitable organisation.
The next ENFiD Europe AGA & Conference will be held in the autumn of 2020.