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A Rich Voice, A Soul of a Millionaire

28 Apr

(Ed. Note: We are republishing Mr. Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna’s interview with New York-based Filipino Tenor Bernie Milan who is coming to Barcelona, Spain this May to serenade us with Filipino folk songs and OPM classics.)

New York-based Filipino tenor, Bernie Milan

What is it in opera that New York-based Ilonggo, Bernie Milan, doesn’t mind spending  his free time  memorizing long lines and hard-to-pronounce songs or enduring late night rehearsals, and yet doesn’t earn much from it?

The 34-year old  Filipino opera singer had this simple answer; “Opera is the only performing art where the question is not “Does he look the part?” but rather, “Can he sing the part?”

I knew Bernie way back in high school. The last  time I saw him was more than fifteen years ago. We finally met again when he came to visit Barcelona for a well-deserved vacation last month. Catching up over a glass of  cava and  people-watching by the Las  Ramblas, I later learned that aside from having a stable day job, he also  performs as an opera singer in The Big Apple. I sipped my cava and listened admiringly  to  his story.  During the course of our conversation, he was more animated and  bubblier.  Albeit still sober,  it was deemed necessary for a second  bottle  of  yet another sparkling cava. As they say in ‘Pinas, “Mahaba-habang inuman ‘to.”

A native of Bacolod,  the ever affable and  effervescent Bernard or Bernie to his friends was already singing when he was just a kid.  He was an active musical performer in school which earned  him numerous accolades and awards from several singing competitions.  So it did not come as a surprise that even if he is now working as an Online Manager for People en  Español Magazine in New York, he still finds time donning medieval costumes and belting arias, be it in German or Italian or in whatever language it may be.

“Opera, to me, is the highest form of any of the performing arts. It requires singers with truly exceptional talent and years of formal training. It takes the human voice to the absolute limits of what it is capable of doing. Imagine a venue that the only thing that mattered was talent.”

Bernie Milan playing Tamino in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s  Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) May 16, 2010. New York City

Hell Week

Bernie joined the community opera company Amore Opera in the 1999-2000 season and since then, he has been a main fixture in every show the company has mounted. With the kind of work that he does during the day, stressful and all, one may wonder how can he still find time to perform onstage.

“During the day I head up online sales for People En Español Magazine and I try to find time to study after work.  I am in the middle of “Hell Week” – the week before a production opens (We are opening Mozart’s The Magic Flute this weekend) and things in the office are getting really busy as well.    I guess the secret is developing a way to silo your different “lives””.

“I must say that when I am in the office, my focus is solely on my work.  The moment I leave the office, I put on a different hat and entertain my artistic side.  Music is a very powerful force.  As soon as I turn on my iPod on the subway to rehearsals, I become the character and my mindset is on that opera.”

“It also helps to find friends that are in a similar situation as you are.  I have a tight knit of friends who work during the day and sing opera at night.  The challenges are immense but when you get a standing ovation, or when someone approaches you after a show and tells you that they were moved by your performance – all that sacrifice, blood sweat and (many, many) tears are worth it.”

 This time, Bernie plays Lieutenant Pinkerton in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly while the Caucasian singers play the Asian roles

“Being a Pinoy is an advantage”

He considers himself lucky that he is  an operatic lyrico-spinto tenor, a rather rare high male voice-type. Gifted with such voice, he gets cast a lot. He sings the repertoire of singers like Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

“Actually, problems regarding my  being  Asian  has never come up.  Again, it’s about the talent.  The ability to perform certain roles and sing them well.  You can be short, fat, green, crooked, tall etc. – as long as you can sing the role. Of course all things being equal, the director will cast believable singers in the role. I once played Pinkerton, the main American character in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.  Looking at the cast, I was the only non-white (Asian at that)  playing a Caucasian American.  All the Japanese characters, including Butterfly, were Americans (Caucasians, African-Americans, etc.)  It was quite weird at first but the music won the audience over and the show was well received!”

Right now, he is the only Pinoy in the group. Though, according to him, people no longer get surprised to see a Pinoy in any production. Thanks to Lea Salonga, Black Eyed Peas, Charice, to name a few.

“And this is a wonderful thing!”  He gamely exclaimed.  “Being a Pinoy is an advantage. I actually believe in the Pinoy touch.  Pinoys have music and performing arts in their blood. We have the flair for drama.  All throughout my days in La Salle, it was encouraged for everyone to take part in school plays, musicals and variety shows.  I mean even at karaoke here in NYC, people expect you be good if you are Pinoy!

On discipline and Maria Callas

Before a performance, Bernie strictly follows a self-imposed regimen, sleep and eat well. He gets to the theatre really early, get into costume and find a quiet corner to focus and visualize my performance.  He tries not to get caught up in the backstage frenzy with all the other performers. Having played a numerous array of Operatic characters, his most favourite character to date  is “Mario Cavaradossi” from Puccini’s Tosca.

Among the opera singers, he looks up to the two greatest opera singers in the world.

“One is Maria Callas.  This soprano defied the norms of opera and emerged as a superstar in her day.  Her vocal discipline and the drama that she brought to all her roles (not just beautiful singing) made her stand out from the rest.  She is a master of telling a story through her singing. The other one is the tenor Placido Domingo.  His range and characterization always win me over.  True, there are prettier voices out there, but Domingo brings such a depth to his performances that you actually believe in every note and every nuance. I guess I am drawn to opera singers who understand that voice is just the beginning, the vehicle to tell the story.”

Bernie playing Tamino

Does he think that Pinoys are ready to appreciate  opera?

“I believe that Pinoys need more exposure to opera.  We do not have a vibrant opera company in the Philippines so there are no local artists to idolize and look up to. Also, there are no conservatories and very limited educational tools for our students to appreciate and learn how to sing opera. That said, I am confident that with the advent of YouTube, Facebook and the Internet in general, our Pinoy youth can have access to musical performances outside the Top 40 Pop hits.”

“Opera has the reputation of being appreciated by a limited  number of followers. Such  reputation I’m afraid.  Because of the sheer scale and grandeur of the medium, productions get really expensive to mount and that cost translates into higher ticket prices. Another barrier for it to be accessible is the language.  German, Italian and French are the three main languages of more than 70% of the works that are out there.  Chances are foreign-language work (for Americans, at least) are deemed as for the elite and rich.”

“Because of this stigma, the Metropolitan Opera has started a “Live in HD” program where certain performances are broadcast live in HD at movie theatres across Northern America, Europe and Japan.  The goal is to make opera accessible to everyone from all walks of life and I honestly think it is helping break the stigma.  I hear they are increasing the number of broadcast performances and theatres in the upcoming season.”

“How wonderful would it be to wake up and just sing for a living”

Being with the opera group, Bernie had  the chance  not only  to do what he loves most but also to  meet amazing people on and off stage. Every performance is always a bottomless pit of fun and good memories. And that includes anecdotes and bloopers as well. One of the most unforgettable happened a couple of years ago.

“I was singing the title role of Gounod’s Faust.  We were multicast and all of the other Faust’s were…let’s say rotund. So when it was my turn to play the role, the costume was pinned to fit me. Let’s just say I had to finish the love aria “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” with my lederhosen halfway down my knees.  I didn’t flinch – the show MUST go on!”

With all  the exposures that he gets from every performance, Bernie has actually considered taking opera on a professional level, making it as his bread and butter, so to speak. 

“Of course.  How wonderful would it be to wake up and just sing for a living. I’m getting there I think.  I have many people approaching me about auditions and artist representation and that feels good.  My day job allows me to live a certain lifestyle and it would be a hard adjustment to go the “starving artist” route at my (young) age – I am still hopeful though.  One must never give up on their dreams.”

Bernie in Puccini’s Tosca. Act II (as Mario Cavaradossi)

Does he have some advice to his fellow kababayans who are  interested in operas and want to be opera singers too?

“I would simply say give opera a chance. Listen to an aria or two.  Read about it.  Go on YouTube and watch clips from famous operas.  All the best love stories and musicals today are based on opera:  Rent was based from La Boheme; Moulin Rouge from La Traviata, Miss Saigon from Madama Butterfly. As for budding opera singers, listen to as much opera as you can. Study not only the technique and music but also embrace the story, the drama behind every note. And continue to sing – there are no boundaries or limitations!”

It was time to leave and to catch the Opera Flamenco concert Bernie was excited to watch as part of his Catalan experience. I sipped the last drop of cava from my glass before I decided to launch my last question that I was dying to ask him since the first time I heard  that he was into opera.  If we invited him to sing for the Filipino community in Barcelona or Madrid in the near future, would he sing for us?

“But of course, just say when!”

With this, I got my answer. As we walked down to the Teatro Poliorama  squeezing ourselves  through the crowded Las Ramblas, Bernie, as if  giving  Barcelona a glimpse of what to expect,  released  his own aria  from his  favourite  “Che Gelida Manina” of La Boheme:

“Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria,
l’anima ho milionaria.”

“When it comes to dreams and visions
and castles in the air,
I’ve the soul of a millionaire.”

Echoing the message of the aria, Bernie said it best as we finally reached  the theatre.

“I am just  trying to live my life – full of dreams and not afraid of possibilities.” Photos contributed by Mr. Bernie Milan; Text: Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna

Truly a man of his word,  Bernie is definitely coming to Barcelona to give a concert on May 14, Saturday, 9 p.m. at Iglesia de San Agustin, Calle Hospital, Barcelona, Spain.

Tickets for only 5 euros each. Proceeds from this concert will be used to finance the publication of the free magazine for Filipino migrants in Spain, Ang Bagong Filipino, this blog and other activities of Asociación Filipina de Escritores e Investigadores en España.



From a Prison Cell to a Room for Peace

14 Apr

A plaque, which can be found in Castell de Montjüic, Barcelona, Spain bears José Rizal’s portrait, a sample page of  El  Filibusterismo and the cover of the newspaper La Solidaridad  dated 1889.

by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna, Photos by ACassandra Molera

“It all started with José Rizal. He is a symbol of freedom. His ideas, his fight for democracy led us to be the First Democratic Republic in Asia.”

This was how Philippine Ambassador to Spain, Carlos C. Salinas described our national hero during the inauguration of the three rooms on the parade ground of the historical Castell de Montjüic  in Barcelona, Spain  last April 8, 2011.

The City Government of Barcelona, represented by Vice Mayor Ignasi Cardelús i Fontdevilla  has dedicated the first three  of the eleven rooms to Dr. José Rizal  and  two other  illustrious historical figures of  Catalonia–Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and Lluis Companys.

Rizal, Ferrer i Guàrdia and Companys were imprisoned in Montjuïc Castle and executed by firing squad for defending their principles and their fight for freedom.

“They committed the crime of being free thinkers,” noted Oriol Illa, the Vice Chairman of the Fundació Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia.

Already restored and reformed, these rooms which served as the prison cells of these  three heroes and other prisoners sentenced to death will be used by the city’s International Resources Center for Peace for its future courses and peace-related  activities.

José Rizal’s room is Sala 17.  A plaque bears his portrait, a sample page of  El  Filibusterismo and the cover of the newspaper La Solidaridad dated 1889.

It was to be remembered that on September 2, 1896, a week after the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, José Rizal left Manila for Spain. He was to go to Spain first before going to Cuba as a volunteer doctor. But even before he could reach his destination, he was arrested by the Spanish authorities on board, jailed in Montjüic Castle in  Barcelona and shipped back to Manila where he spent the last three months of his life in Fort Santiago.

Incidentally, it was here in Barcelona where Rizal wrote his first literary work in Spain, titled “El Amor Patrio” (Love of Country) which   appeared in Manila’s daily “Diariong Tagalog “, under the  pseudonym, “Laong Laan”.

Sala 17  will join several  historical landmarks that the Catalonian government has dedicated to José Rizal. Last year, a plaque was also unveiled in Plaza de Buensuceso commemorating the place where Rizal and his friends used to meet for the La Solidaridad group and publication.

The Castell de Montjüic  is now one of the most popular  Barcelona tourist attractions visited by hundreds of tourists everyday.

“We Filipinos should be very proud of José Rizal“ said   Rizal’s great great grand nephew, Harold Langer Sy-Quia.

He was with his mom, the great great grand niece of our national hero, Noelle Sy-Quia who also graced the inauguration ceremony brimming with pride and joy.

Noelle Sy-Quia, great great grand niece of Dr. Rizal and her son Harold Langer Sy-Quia

“We are very pleased about it.  We have been waiting for this and now it is happening in time for his 150th birthday. This is a great satisfaction to the family.” She declared at the end of the event.

Also present were Consul General Eduardo José de Vega and Filipino community leaders Fr. Avelino  Sapida , president of Kalipi (Kapulungan ng mga Lider Pinoy sa Barcelona),  Sr. Paulita Astillero, Director  of Centro Filipino, among others.

Consul General Eduardo José de Vega, Fr. Avelino Sapida, Mrs. Noelle Sy-Quia, Ambassador Carlos Salinas, Mrs. Isabelita Salinas and Vice Mayor Ignasi Cardelús i Fontdevilla.

Bawal bang mahalin ka?

7 Apr

Pinoys just like any other may engage in love types which may challenge sanctified societal conventions. The distance from the nuclear family and the ‘openness’ of the host country foment an opportune climate for experimenting a new way of expressing love. Some of them are embroiled in forbidden love, some engage in same-sex affairs and others in interracial relationships. There are those whose way of coping with love is to demur and defer it opting for single-blessedness. Some of these are well-taken while some others view them with supercilious contempt.

The Pinoy lover, just like nature, abhors vacuum. There’s got to be love one way or another. And they cope with it either by approach-approach whether acceptable or not or they may try the avoid-avoid. After all, love still makes the world go round. The Pinoys abroad are no exception. The emotion of love draws out the genius in every Pinoy. They love all they will and they love all they can.

Pabalat ng ika-7 isyu ng Ang Bagong Filipino. Upang makakuha ng kopya, i-click lamang ang link na ito: Ang Bagong Filipino numero 7

Fall in love again on May 14

20 Mar

After the well-attended and critically-acclaimed Kundiman concert held last year, this year someone will serenade you…

We are giving you another night of world-class Filipino talent, enchanting music and another reason to fall in love again.

In celebration of the Philippine National Heritage month, Ang Bagong Filipino group of writers in collaboration with the Filipino Personal Parish and the Philippine Consulate in Barcelona present New York-based Filipino tenor Bernard Milan and Austria-based pianist Ferdinand Bambico in concert.

May 14, 2011
9:00 p.m.

San Agustin Church
Barcelona, Spain

Pit Señor! Smile of the Week

1 Feb

Filipinos in Spain like members of Sto. Niño group are all smiles as they celebrate ‘Sinulog’ in Madrid. Photo by Bella Marte

In Barcelona, the Association Visayas-Mindanao once again displayed their colorful costumes and danced to the beat of the drum to  show their adoration to Sto. Niño. Photo by Elle Ladeza

The Sinulog is an annual festival held on the third Sunday of January in Cebu City, Philippines. The festival honors the child Jesus, known as the Santo Niño (Holy Child), patron of the city of Cebu. It is a dance ritual that commemorates the Cebuano people’s pagan origin, and their acceptance of Christianity.

From a Cebuano word “sulog” which means “like water current movement”, the Sinulog dance consists of two steps forward and one step backward done to the beat of the drum. Continue reading Centro Filipino’s History of Christianity and Sinulog in the Philippines

Ponte, Puente

16 Nov

El Puente de Alcantara was not the only bridge constructed in the city of Toledo. Click this link to see a panoramic view of Puente de Alcantara. On the other side of the bridge, on top of the hill is where Castillo de San Servando can be found. Castillo de San Servando had been converted into a youth hostel, and has also become a popular venue for conferences like the MAPID (Migrants’ Associations and Philippine Institutions for Development) seminar-workshop.

The groundwork has been set to bridge Filipino associations in Spain with Filipino associations in Italy.

On 29 -31 October, various associations from Barcelona, Madrid, Milan and Rome gathered in Toledo, Spain to assess their respective organization’s strengths and weaknesses and identify possible opportunities and difficulties in working with Filipino migrants.

The associations expressed their enthusiasm to work together whether in the form of a federation, an umbrella organization, or  a network of associations.

There was also a strong interest to extend support to fellow kababayans as they identified possible projects to be carried out not only in Spain and Italy, but also in the Philippines. Some of the possible projects included providing information that would facilitate the integration of Filipinos to the host country, establishing a  health center in one impoverished barangay in Mindanao and creating a center that would cater to returning migrants especially those who are already in their retirement age.

These proposed projects would not be impossible to achieve  if there would be a continuous communication and cooperation between migrant associations and national and local institutions in the Philippines, which is by the way one of the objectives of the MAPID project.

This seminar-workshop was organized by the partner institutions of MAPID  namely University of Valencia, Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines, Commission on Filipino Overseas and Fondazione ISMU.

Participants and Organizers of the MAPID conference in Toledo, Spain. Thanks to Ms. Thezz Saulog for the photo.

Associations present in the workshop were Mindanao Overseas Workers Association in Italy, Couples for Christ Madrid, Grupo Donne Internationale Milan, FilAmici Milan, Asociacion Filipina de Madrid, Granmadre Di Dio Filipino Community, Emprendedores Filipinos de Barcelona, AMFIL, PGBI Bordek Chapter, Bicolnon Association , Asociación de Profesionales Filipinos en España, Asociación de Filipinos en Madrid, Sto. Niño, Association of Pangasinenses in Rome, Commission for Filipino Migrants Italy, Asociación de Mujeres Filipinas en Madrid, Mindanao Overseas Welfare Association, Filipino Women’s Club, Parroquia Personal Filipina de Barcelona, Centro Filipino Tuluyan San Benito Barcelona, Samahan ng mga Kabitenyo sa Barcelona and Asociación Filipina de Escritores e Investigadores en Espana (Ang Bagong Filipino).

More than mere ‘Vacas Lecheras’

9 Nov

Looking beyond billion dollar remittances


October 14, 2010 – Casa Asia – Barcelona, Spain

By Kay S. Abaño

Filipino Migration, Associativism and Development were the main themes discussed in a conference organized by Casa Asia in cooperation with representatives of the University of Valencia and the Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines. The presentation focused on the results of the two groups’ collaborative project- the Migrants’ Associations and Philippine Institutions for Development, or MAPID. This project’s main objective is to understand the relationship between Filipino migrant associations and Philippine institutions, and to promote their cooperation with each other for the home country’s development.

Edelia Villaroya, coordinator of MAPID at the University of Valencia, and Fr. Fabio Baggio, director of MAPID and the Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines, elaborated on the project’s findings along with their analysis of the information presented. Their respective presentations were factual yet quite accessible and infused with a deep human understanding, possibly a result of their direct and close contact with Filipinos in Spain, Italy, as well as in the Philippines.

From Brain Drain to Brain Gain

Of all the figures presented, I believe that the most astounding was the number of Filipinos leaving to work abroad each year: 1,422,586. That’s almost 1.5 million Filipino contract workers leaving the country every year, working and using their knowledge and abilities on foreign soil rather than in their own land, to benefit their own people. This fact was also pointed out by the speakers, saying that the migrant phenomenon has been creating another phenomenon through the years- the Brain Drain- which is unfortunately matched with the lack of government programs for what they called “Brain Gain.” Their study also revealed that there are no existing programs for migrant re-integration, nor perceived links between migration and development in the country. Throughout their presentation, a very important idea was repeatedly stressed– the transfer of capabilities and knowledge. It was made clear that the key to migrant re-integration and development in the Philippines is in this sharing of abilities and knowledge, and that Filipino migrants are capable of being more than “Vacas Lecheras” or machines that merely send money home.

Happy Filipinos

Interestingly, the study has found that many 2nd generation Filipinos still feel more Filipino, or see themselves as Filipino-Spanish rather than just Spanish. Also, it was discovered that Filipinos abroad (particularly those in Spain and Italy) are able to stay happy in spite of the various forms of discrimination that they experience. The project’s leaders attribute this positive mentality to the Filipino’s innate psychological strength, which is perhaps what helps the Filipino migrant through the difficult realities of marginalization and the apparent lack of preoccupation for the migrants by both the host and home countries.

Region and Religion

However, not everyone feels the same way about this phenomenon. The study found that there are some migrants who do feel alone and abandoned by their hosts and their own countrymen, many of whom suffer this ordeal in silence.  Hence, the importance of associations.  Filipinos both in Spain and Italy have organized themselves into different groups based mainly on religion and region.  But, although this kind of support exists, they discovered that many migrant workers still look for support and recognition from home.

Everything revealed and discussed during the presentation about Filipino migrants and the realities that surround them was clear and true. Filipino migrant workers do what they do because they have to, and they are certainly capable of dealing with whatever it entails and however it affects their lives. But, what was also made clear was the importance that has yet to be given to migration internationally, its relevance to nations and individuals, but especially on how the host and home countries perceive it. The Diaspora, according to the study, enriches both nations in a number of ways, and goes well beyond mere employment generation. In the end, apart from all the information already available, it seems that there is still more to learn about this phenomenon that everyone could further benefit from. Meanwhile, Filipinos will continue to leave the country in search for greener pastures, towards uncertain futures, in foreign lands.

Representatives from the Spanish and Philippine government, Casa Asia, Scalibrini Migration Center and University of Valencia together with federation of Filipino associations (KALIPI), Centro Filipino and Asociación Filipina de Escritores e Investigadores en España (Ang Bagong Filipino) were present to discuss the different dimensions of Filipino diaspora and its relevance to development.

Ang kuwento ng mga Nauna at Nangunang Migrante sa Espanya

29 Oct

Pabalat ng ika-6 na isyu ng Ang Bagong Filipino. Para makakuha ng kopya, i-click lamang ito: Ang Bagong Filipino número 6


Ang paglingon sa pinanggalingan ay labis na pinahahalagahan sa kulturang Filipino. Hindi tayo maaaring lumimot, lalung-lalo na sa mga nagawa at nakamit ng ating mga magigiting na ninuno. Hindi kailanman tayo makakalimot lalo na kung ang galos ng nakaraan ay siya pa ring kumikirot at sanhi ng hindi pag-unlad ng bayan. Sa ating pagkilala at pagtanggap sa pinagmulan, pinatitibay din natin ang ating pagkatao. Pinaalalahanan natin ang sarili na ang ating nakaraan ay hindi naging madali, at ang siyang nagbibigay ng kabuluhan sa ating kasalukuyan.

Ngunit maaari rin kaya na ang kasalukuyan at ang kaniyang patutunguhan ang siya namang magbigay ng kabuluhan sa ating nakaraan? Maaari kaya tayong lumingon nang paharap, matapos matuto sa nakaraan, at piliing sumulong sa halip na magpabalik-balik sa mga panahong nakalipas na?

Ang ating kasaysayan ay napupuno ng iba’t-ibang Pilipinong pumili sa direksiyong ito. Mga kahanga-hangang Pilipinong nanguna sa kanilang mga larangan at kapanahunan sapagkat ninais nilang abutin ang mga pangako ng hinaharap. Walang takot, walang pag-aatubili, na nangarap at kumilos upang tulungang maiangat ang kanilang kapwa tao. Walang tigil silang nagmasid sa higit pang malayo upang mas mainam na maihanda ang kasalukuyang landas patungo sa isang maginhawang bukas. Ang mga PIONEERS, o ang mga nanguna, kung sila ay tawagin, ang mga karapat-dapat na halimbawa sa patuloy nating pagsulong, at siyang makapagbibigay ng kahulugan sa lahat ng ating napagdaanan. Ang isyung ito ay isang pagkilala sa lahat ng mga Pilipinong matapang na nauna at nangunguna sa pagtahak sa hindi tiyak na hinaharap.

Lubos na nagpapasalamat ang Ang Bagong Filipino sa suporta ng mga sumusunod:

CBN Grupo BDO Remit

Platinum Care

Bar Taberna La Paloma/Supermercado M & M

Pang-sports na, Pang-friendship pa!

28 Oct

Everyone is invited to watch the Philippine Basketball Friendship Games in Spain (Ambassador’s Cup) this Sunday, October 31, 9:00am – 8:00pm at Can Ricart Municipal Esportiu del Raval, Barcelona, Spain.

You have six teams to cheer on: Andorra, Ibiza, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Marbella, and the defending champion Barcelona!

New KALIPI leaders inducted

20 Oct

by Aodh Matthew Visitación Patrimonio

Induction of new KALIPI leaders presided by Ms. Gaëlle Laloy, Casa Asia’s person in charge for Asian communities in Spain. Photo by Thezz Saulog

The Kapulungan ng mga Lider Pinoy sa Barcelona (KALIPI), the umbrella organization of different socio-civic and religious organizations within the Filipino community in Barcelona held its induction for the set of newly elected officers for biennial term 2010 – 2012 on the 15th of October 2010 in Barcelona.

Headed by the President-elect Fr. Avelino Sapida, they were inducted into office by Ms Gaëlle Patin Laloy, Responsable de la Comunidad Asiática en Barcelona, Casa Asia.  The induction ceremony also featured a symbolic turn over of candle, key, logo and journal.

In his inaugural address, Fr. Avel delineated the two-fold nature of KALIPI, stemming from the nature of the organizations that comprise it.  It is basically a religious and socio-civic entity, the essence of which can be summed up in ‘having faith in God and being good, law-abiding citizens who put God above all and lending importance to faith and morals.  He exhorted all leaders present to be always in contact with all the members in representing the organizations because the strength of KALIPI emanates from the strength of the individual organizations.

He also underscored the nature of the representations of organization.  It is not a matter of the person present in the meetings but the organization that they represent.  If the organizational head does not forge a good relationship with its constituents, this would mean a failure in the leadership and the subsequent representation.

He also lauded the outgoing president, Pastor Diosdado Sabado of the Word International Ministry for his efforts and personal sacrifices just to carry out his obligations to KALIPI and he hoped to be able to direct the organization with such avidity citing that a good leader is a good servant as well.

The others inducted to office were:  Nico Cueto (Vice President), Paulita Marina Astillero (Secretary), Jennifer Masilang Adarlo (Treasurer), Pastor Diosdado Sabado (Auditor), Millet Chipongian (Cultural Committee Head), Macrina Alcedo (Political Committee Head), Manrico García (Social Committee Head) and Bishop Felicísimo Corder (Spiritual Committee Head).

Leaders of different Filipino associations in Barcelona which make up KALIPI together with (L-R) Consul General Eduardo José de Vega, Ms. Gaëlle Laloy and Fr. Avelino Sapida, new  KALIPI President.


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