MANILA, PHILIPPINES:  The Commission of Filipino Overseas, an agency directly under the Philippine president, is holding a conference September 27=29 on “Diaspora to Development: A Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora” in cooperation with the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America (NaFFAA) and the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG).

The conference gathers all previous Presidential awardees as well as leaders and convenors of the USP4GG and NaFFAA and other global Filipinos’ networks, migration-related Philippine government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, academe, private sector, and multi-lateral agencies.

2010 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III shares the stage with the awardees during the Awarding Ceremonies for the 2010 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas Tuesday night at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall, Malacañan Palace. This year’s recipients are seven Filipino organizations, one foreign group, three foreigners and 13 Filipinos. They came from United States, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Australia, Germany and Canada. The Awards is a biennial awards system which was institutionalized through Executive Order 498 signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino in 1991. (Photo by: Gil Nartea / Malacañang Photo Bureau).

Can Filipinos overseas and in the diaspora respond to the future development of their homeland? That is one of the toughest questions we had to struggle with when several of us, 2010 Philippine Presidential Awardees, were confronted with this question in a conference this past December. We recommended that such a global summit take place.

What follows is a description of the conference, according to the official website of the Commission of Filipinos Overseas.

Close to nine million Filipinos live and work overseas. We hear about the travails of our OFW sector that comprises about half of Filipinos abroad on a daily basis. The other half is less headline grabbing – Filipino emigrates, many having quietly left the Philippines decades ago for numerous reasons. Armed with dreams and the ambition to attain a better life for themselves and their families, they have achieved measures of success in the countries in which they live. Quite a few live comfortably, manage established, flourishing businesses and are socially involved. There are consequences from having lived abroad for so long – their successor generations may no longer be familiar with, or tied strongly to, mother Philippines.

Empowered by the commitment to promote policies aimed at reinvigorating the ties that bind all Filipino émigrés to their home country through business, arts and culture and youth development, as well as banking on renewed optimism in the Philippines brought on by major confidence in the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) calls on all Filipinos that live abroad, their relatives based in Manila, and immigrants that have returned to the Philippines to participate in Diaspora to Development: Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora (D2D). The CFO, headed by Sec. Imelda M. Nicolas, hopes to inspire overseas Filipinos through this call to action – Be more than a Balikbayan. Ang kaalaman at kakayahan, iBaliksaBayan!

Provinces and regions of the Philippines
Image via Wikipedia

Convened by the CFO along with the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America (NaFFAA), US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), and Youth Leaders in the Diaspora (YouLeaD), the D2D conference will run from the 27th to the 29th of September 2011, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. There will also be a pre-summit visit by NaFFAA and ASP4GG to the House of Representatives on September 26th.

Expected to speak at the symposium are US Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Harry K. Thomas, COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Author-in-Residence at Nanyang University Maria Ressa; Rodel Rodis, a NaFFAA founder and NaFFAA General Counsel and USP4GG President; Chief Finance Officer and Strategic Planning Head, ABS-CBN Global Ltd. Anna Karina V. Rodriguez; Crisanto M. Concepcion, Head of Product Development and New Media Strategy, ABS-CBN Global Ltd,; Medical City President and CEO Dr. Alfredo R.A. Bengzon; National Chair Emeritus of NaFFAA and President of Minority Services, Inc. Greg Macabenta; DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario; CFO Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas; Loida Nicolas Lewis, USP4GG Chair; Aurora Cudal, NaFFAA Region 10 Chair; and YouLeaD Convener Eileen Aparis.

The D2D summit is supported by event partner ActivAsia Inc.; media partners Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN Global Limited, the provider of TFC Worldwide; official publisher Vibal Publishing House, Inc.; official healthcare provider, The Medical City; SMA

RT Pinoy; the Philippine Retirement Authority; and Philippine Airlines.

What can you do for our country? What are you willing to do as an overseas Filipinos or a member of the communities of the Philippine diaspora? –– RG

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