The first goal of the August 22-24, 1997 Empowerment Conference was to establish the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). The delegates elected an interim National Chairman who was empowered to pursue the organizational details and to appoint a Vice Chair, an Executive Director and other paid staff members and a National Working Committee to administer the affairs of the NaFFAA in the interim period while a formal Constitution and By-Laws were being prepared for adoption.

A few days after adjournment, NaFFAA opened a 1,000 sq.ft. National Executive Office at 1444 N Street, NW, in the heart of the Capitol. With a highly competent Executive Director and an Administrative Assistant, with the help of an equally energetic Vice Chair, the NaFFAA national office has been performing an incredible job of acting as "The Voice" in Washington, DC even with limited resouces.

buildingOn October 1, 1998, NaFFAA will move its offices to its new permanent location Home. It is the old Philippine Chancery at 1617 Massachusetts Avenue, on Embassy Row, in front of the new Philippine Embassy, a historic four story 12,000 sq. ft. building. Impressed by our movement for national unification and empowerment, former President Fidel V. Ramos, through Honorable Domingo L. Siazon, Jr., Secretary of Foreign Affairs, allowed NaFFAA the use of the building for twenty five (25) years, rent free! However, NaFFAA has to assume the cost of rehabilitation of the building. President Ramos himself started the fund raising campaign during a banquet we tendered in his honor on April 9, 1998, He donated his one-month salary and collected close to $5,000 from his official and business entourage. Community leaders responded, resulting in an initial Building fund of $13,731.00 raised that evening.

The challenge to rehabilitate the building is getting enthusiastic support from the Associations of Filipino Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Interior Designers and other volunteers and community leaders. The project has become a rallying point, particularly in the Metropolitan area, because the building will also serve as the Filipino American Center. Other Filipino American Associations affiliated with NaFFAA shall have use of the building. NaFFAA and the community will share certain areas with the Philippine Embassy. We cannot help but be proud of this achievement.

filipinoThe Delegates to last year's convention also mandated that NaFFAA support the cuase of the Filipino WWII veterans. After ten months of intensive lobbying, in coordination with, and with the cooperation of , all veterans groups and the Philippine Embassy, the Equity Act has now close to 200 co-sponsors. Only 30 more votes are needed to assure majority support in the House of Representatives.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee finally held a hearing on the bill last July 22, 1998, due to the unified efforts of NaFFAA and all the veterans' group, with the impassioned leadership of Congressmen Benjamin Gilman and Bob Filner, who are the bill's principal sponsors.

NaFFAA is pushing for more votes to force the 105th Congress to settle the issue once and for all, before Congress adjourns this year.

The big job of formalizing the infrastructure is done. A copy of the proposed Constitution and By-Laws of NaFFAA has been circulated to all concerned for final approval at the October Conference. Upon their adoption, NaFFAA will function as the permanent organizational infrastructure, chartered and charged to pursue our dreams of national unification and empowerment.

Finally, NaFFAA has already been granted by the internal Revenue Service the much-needed Tax Exempt Status as a (501)(c)(3) organization, in record time. Therefore, all donations to NaFFAA are now tax-deductable.

Congratulations are in order to the National Working Committee for its vital role in making the above-cited accomplishments possible.

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