Cartoon by Roni Santiago

Dr. Clarita Portugal Ketels responded to our editorial on FILAMCCO (Filipino American Community Council) published in the Sept. 16-30, 2015 issue of this newspaper.

In a letter, Doctor Ketels stated, “I agree with your editorial re FILAMCCO.”

She remarked, “That’s why a lot of Filipinos don’t want to get involved with Filipino organizations because all they do is party and ask for ads. I have lots of Filipino patients who have stayed away because of what they hear about the internal power struggles within our organizations.

“Are they doing anything to acquire a better community center? Look at what the Filipinos in Tampa (Florida) have done. They were able to get a $1-million grant to build a beautiful Bayanihan Arts Center managed by their Philippine Cultural Foundation.

“What do we in Michigan have?  What a shame that despite the (big) number of Filipinos living in Michigan, we don’t have a nice center, a venue that we can use instead of the (American) Polish Community Center, various hotels, etc.

“The PACCM (building) needs a lot of repairs, not really something that Filipino members can use for their more formal gatherings. What can we leave to our children that they can be proud of?”

Doctor Ketels asked, “Don’t you think having a center like that (in Tampa) will motivate more Filipinos to join and get involved?

“I, for one, will donate for something like that instead of giving money for repairs to a building that doesn’t have any future. We need a center that will generate money (from rentals, etc) to sustain itself.”

We fully agree with Doctor Ketels’s observations, particularly the one about unity in the community and internal power struggles.

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We can say without fear of contradiction that at present, there is indeed no unity in the Filipino-American community in Michigan, particularly among the FILAMCCO leaders.

In fact, another nasty controversy has loomed over FILAMCCO in connection with proposed amendments to its constitution and by-laws, threatening to further divide the community.

The controversy pits one key FILAMCCO officer against another. A showdown between the two is seen to take place in November when FILAMCCO holds its general assembly and election. They have already traded accusations and pungent remarks.

We echo Doctor Ketels’s comment that this kind of power struggle discourages people from involving themselves in community activities.

We believe that at present, the priority goal of FILAMCCO is to unite the whole community. This means that the next FILAMCCO officers should be able to reconcile the feuding groups.

Is reconciliation possible?

We believe it’s possible because all those who want to be elected in the November election have the same objective – to serve the community. Also, we believe they are mature enough to admit that they are not actually enemies.