All is well that ends well.
This could be said about the FILAMCCO (Filipino American Community Council) meeting held last Nov. 14 at PACCM (Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan).
A few days before the meeting, it was feared that a chaotic situation would come about during the discussion of issues over the proposed amendments to FILAMCCO’s bylaws. The fear was triggered by the exchanges of nasty emails between two members of the board. This was aggravated by recollections of a past stormy FILAMCCO meeting which was characterized as a complete chaos.
Former FILAMCCO president Van Ong, obviously aware of the no-love-lost relationship between the two board members, talked about civility when he spoke before the meeting started. He also reminded the meeting participants of the need to observe parliamentary rules.
Board member Fe San Agustin echoed a similar sentiment when she delivered the invocation.
FILAMCCO President Imelda Martin-Hum, who called the meeting to order, was obviously anticipating a possible disorderly situation. She urged the board members “not to get too personal,” saying “let us promote love.”
The board then proceeded to tackle the items in the agenda such as the reports of the president and the treasurer. The proceedings went on smoothly until board member Loida Moses asked, “Where is the $5,000 for PACCM?” She was referring to FILAMCCO’s $5,000 donation to PACCM.
The issue triggered a tense discussion involving PACCM President Becky Tungol and Hum. It revived an old controversy over the matter. Hum maintained that she handed over the $5,000 check to Tungol during the PACCM’s Valentine Party last year.
But Tungol replied that if the check was indeed given to her, it should have been with her when the check donations were inventoried. She said, though, that if she lost the check, she is sorry.
The issue was put to rest after it was agreed that FILAMCCO issue another check to replace the missing check. Hum said that the check will be given at the end of her term (December 2015).
Another knotty issue came about when Filamcco Foundation and PACCM were asked to submit financial reports to FILAMCCO. In particular, the foundation was being asked to report on the funds raised for the typhoon Yolanda victims.
Dr. Ernie Mac, foundation president, said, “I cannot submit a report today because it is only this time I come to know I am submitting a report.” (She has just returned from a pilgrimage in Europe.) She assured, though, that the funds were all accounted for, saying that foundation treasurer, Lily Ambrosio Ylen, is “very strict.” She added that the Filipino Star News had reported on how the donated funds were distributed to the beneficiaries.
In the case of PACCM, Tungol stood firm on the position that PACCM is not obligated to submit a financial report to FILAMCCO because the former is an autonomous and independent organization. PACCM is one of the 28 organizations affiliated with FILAMCCO, and it is the only one being asked to submit a financial report, she said.
She said, however, that PACCM’s financial report is a public document, and “you are always welcome to look at it.”
Mel Gambalan, a member of the bylaws committee, said, “I would like to have a copy of the (financial) report.” He recalled that in the 1970s, the Samahang Pilipino was created to serve as a coordinating organization. Years later, it transformed into FILAMCCO, and PACCM is “a product of FILAMCCO.”
The discussion on the issue ended when PACCM Executive Director Tony Kho told the audience, “Come to my office and I will give you a copy of the financial report.”
Afterwards, the discussion shifted to the proposed amendments to the bylaws. Angela Bedia, chairperson of the bylaws committee, presented the proposed amendments.
With Ong acting as presiding officer, the ensuing debate was focused on a proposed amendment seeking to classify the PACCM president, PACCM executive director and Filamcco Foundation president as automatic honorary members of the FILAMCCO board with not voting rights.
Tungol and Kho, incumbent PACCM president and executive director, respectively, and foundation president Mac opposed the proposed amendment. Mac said, “I don’t like to be an honorary board member; I want to be an elected board member.” Her comment was applauded by many in the audience.
Still another hot issue was a proposed amendment reducing the number of the members of board of directors from 29 (the number of organizations under the FILAMCCO umbrellas) to 15. The rationale was that with 29 members, it is very difficult to have a quorum during meetings.
Loida Moses commented that attendance in meetings depends on who is the president. Hum reacted, saying that some members had asked to be excused from not attending scheduled meetings because of supposedly important commitments, but “you see them on Facebook partying.”
At that point, the discussion turned volatile, and the tension would have heightened had it not been for the intervention of Deacon Bob Roland, who said, “This is a hotly contested issue. Let’s say a prayer and take a break.”
A break followed, with everybody taking the time to eat their free lunch, courtesy of FILAMCCO.
When the meeting was resumed, the board proceeded to vote on the proposed amendments. But before the 28 board members could cast their vote, board member Flor Sitchon stood to protest her exclusion from the list of qualified voters, saying “it is exclusionary, discriminatory and not fair.” Her husband, Alex Sitchon, was on the list of voters.
The board swiftly acted to approve a motion seeking to include Flor in the list as the No. 29 qualified voter.
The voting on the proposed amendments was done by secret balloting. The “no” votes won, and as a consequence, the proposed amendments were disapproved.
This was followed by the election of the 2016-2018 FILAMCCO officers. (Story is on Page 3.)
Before the meeting ended, Deacon Roland praised Imelda Hum for her leadership in the last two years.
As Shakespeare had said, “All is well that ends well.”
The fear of a disorderly meeting turned out to be a product of overactive imagination. Well, there were hot exchanges during the debates, but that is expected in a democratic setting. We cannot hope for a totally smooth meeting unless we shift to a communist system.
We would be remiss if we don’t give credit to whom it is due. And the credit goes to Mr. Van Ong. Congratulations, Van, on your being able to control the proceedings. You did a good job!