Batangas Association of Hampton Roads

Batangas Association of Hampton Roads The Beginning. It began in the spring of 1975, at a party hosted by Tommy and Baby Alo. This party brought together Mario Gamboa, Venus Tanyag, Charlie Abitan and Bert Rodriguez. It was at this party that they were inspired to unite all the Batangueños in the Tidewater area. In May 1975, the Batangas Association of Tidewater was founded with Mario Gamboa as its first president. Mr. Gamboa was an energetic and service oriented leader from San Juan. Norfolk Mayor, Irvin Hill, the Association’s first inducting official, awarded “The Mace” (the key to the City of Norfolk) to the new officers and members during a special meeting in the Mayor’s chamber. The first program implemented under this administration was a scholarship program for talented yet financially challenged high school students from the different towns in Batangas. This program continued until 1979, with a total of four scholars. The ties among Batangueños were strengthened as well as the Association’s interaction with other Filipino organizations in the Tidewater area. Mr. Gamboa worked with other Filipino leaders of the Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater (CUFOT). The Batangas Association was one of CUFOT’s founding members and continues to be one of its strongest supporters.

Bayani Diokno from Taal, became the second president in 1976. He brought to the Association a political savvy. Mr. Diokno achieved military recognition and was appointed to the Detailer’s Office in Washington, D.C. The third president of the Association was Venus Tanyag of Rosario in 1977, and Nestor Goco followed him in 1978. These gentlemen brought stability to the Association by increasing membership and continuing support of CUFOT. In 1978, CUFOT launched its first major project--the Mrs. Philippines of Virginia Pageant. Lilia Paras from Taal was the first to garner the coveted crown.

The year 1979, was a time of change for the Association. Levy Paler from Taal was elected the fifth and first woman president of the Association and continued in this capacity for five years. Realizing the vision of her predecessors, Mrs. Paler continued the Association’s involvement in all phases of community life. Young Batangueños participated in many community activities and were often recipients of various awards. Support to CUFOT continued and Luz Gonzales from Lipa City was crowned Mrs. Visayas 1979.

New Leaders Followed. In 1984, Bert Buni from Santa Clara became the sixth president. Mr. Buni initiated the Association’s involvement in Operation Smile. In 1985, the seventh president, Cesar Gonzales, from Lipa City, continued the pursuit of the ongoing goals of the Association. Ludy Buni was crowned Mrs. Luzon 1985. Greg Macalindong from lian, became the president in 1986, and brought to the Association his military leadership skills and experience. The Batangas Youth Club was organized. Eric Bernard Paler , son of Bernie and Levy Paler served as the first president with Myra Macalindong, daughter of Ason and Greg Macalindong as the Vice-President. The young Batanguenos followed in the footsteps of their parents and founded a common bond of traditions and values shared among generations of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.

In 1988, Mr. Frank Lucero from Lemery was elected as the Association’s ninth president. He provided a leadership that was soft and gentle. Mr. Lucero’s major project was to support the San Lorenzo Spiritual Center. He also initiated a program to recognize high school and college graduates from the Association. The original banner was replaced with a larger one symbolizing the continual growth of the Association. Iona Quisol from Taal was crowned Mrs. Philippines of Virginia in 1989. Bert Rodriguez from Tanauan was president in 1990, and completed the pledge to the San Lorenzo Project. The Association also contributed to aid disaster victims in the Philippines. In 1991, Operation Desert Storm drew the members closer as we prayed for our friends and family members who were fighting for freedom. In 1992, Paul Bathan from Taal became the eleventh president. The Debutante Ball became a tradition under his administration. The twelfth president, Augusto Sumulong from Nasugbu, was elected in 1993. Mr. Sumulong reestablished ties with CUFOT by donating to its building fund. The Association maintained its support of the San Lorenzo Spiritual Center. The By- Laws of the Association were amended.

Val Macasaet from Lipa City took the helm as the 13th president in 1994. Community involvement increased through active participation in the Filipino American Forum to address civic and ethnic issues. The Batangas Youth Dance Group was organized and performed in many social gatherings. This revived the dedication of the Batanguenos in worthwhile projects focused on the development and improvement of our youth. This was the year that the Batanguenos took a monumental leap with pride and honor as we recognize Levy Paler, our fifth president, in her appointment to the Virginia State Board of Nursing. Levy is the first Filipino American nurse to be appointed by the Governor to occupy such a prestigious seat in her profession.

Romy de la Rosa from San Luis took on the leadership in 1995, and 1996. Our mission remained strong and support for community projects continued to be the central focus. Contributions to Operation Smile continued as well as support the Filipino American Student Association of Virginia Tech and the Mission of Mercy. The Association funded the canopy of San Lorenzo Spiritual Center. The Association participated in the Filipino American Friendship Day Celebration hosted by the Filipino American Community of Tidewater, Virginia. A New Breed. A new breed of leader came into office in 1997, with Dave Bagsit from Batangas City. His vision was futuristic and bold to carry our dreams to the 21st century. He cultivated the talents of its members through music and songs. The Batangas Choir added to the prestige and distinction of the Batanguenos. This year, Levy Paler heightened her nursing leadership at the state level and was elected president of the Virginia Board of Nursing. In 1998, the Batanguenos continued to perpetuate the Batangas tradition while contributing to the enrichment of our community. The Association continued its support of Operation Smile, Mission of Mercy and participated in the Filipino American Friendship Day once again. The funding of the canopy of the San Lorenzo Spiritual Center was completed, and the Association supported the Center in raising funds to build additional parking spaces. The Association rejoined CUFOT.

Resty Gilera from the progressive barrio of Inicbulan, town of Bauan, was elected president in the year 2000. He opened the mind of the Batanguenos in the importance of helping the Filipino American community effectively by being a part of CUFOT. Under his leadership, the Association raised funds to support ABS-CBN’s “BANTAY BATA” Project to help and comfort the homeless children of the Philippines.

In 2001, a young and energetic son of Lipa City, Danny Mendoza, was elected as president. Our association became a more prominent figure within the community. The members together with our youth group participated in CSAT’s “SINULOG” Dance Festival. The association raised funds to help the local community and the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy in New York City.

Doming Herman, a native of Batangas City, was elected president in 2002, and remained in office for two years. Immediately after assuming office, he took action to make the Association’s funds in good accounting order. He continued supporting the charitable organization, “BANTAY BATA,” to ease the pain of the homeless children in the Philippines. With the help of Amy Follante, one of our members and a Virginia Beach Public School teacher, hundreds of preowned calculators were sent to different public schools in the province of Batangas. Under his leadership, the Association made donations to the Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad as a gesture of gratitude for the help they render to the local community.

The year 2004, offered a new beginning. The Association elected its second woman president. Alice Aldover Espiritu came from the town of Lobo, Batangas. The membership of the association increased considerably. She revived the Scholarship Program for deserving indigent students in the province of Batangas. Rules and guidelines for the program were established. She accelerated the involvement of the association in support of CUFOT programs. Within four years of her leadership, the Association supported the Katrina victims of the Gulf Coast, the landslide victims and Bicolano typhoon victims, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Antipolo, Lipa City, Operation Smile, the Virginia Beach Educational Foundation and the Carolina Medical Mission to the Philippines. The Constitution and By-laws of the organization were amended. The Association’s official name was changed to the BATANGAS ASSOCIATION of HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA, (BAHR) She is an outstanding leader who actively represents the association in many civic, social, cultural and charitable activities.

In 2008, a new face emerges in the horizon. Myrna Receno Nario from Lipa City takes the helm of leadership. She continues to support the main project of the Association, the Scholarship Program. For the first time in the history of the Association, several members of the second generation of Batanguenos occupied key positions in our administration. Taking advantage of technology, communication among members was facilitated by the creation of an e-mail account and a blog. To show our support for our military, the Association sent holiday greetings to them through the USO. Support to CUFOT continues to thrive. Our unwavering support of the community was recognized by the Fil-Am Friendship Executive Committee 2008 as well as by the Miss Philippines America Pageant 2008. In 2009, community involvement continued to spread as we participated in the Philippine Week and the Mission of Mercy in the aftermath of Ondoy. Financial aid was given to Governor Vilma Santos. A conscious effort was made to make people be aware of the need to preserve our environment through reusing and recycling.

The Second Generation. Stepping in as a second-generation president, Jeff Paras’ natural qualities of leadership, delegation, and communication came into effect as he took up the torch to lead BAHR. Son of Lilia and Dado Paras, his leadership has bridged three generations of BAHR, as they collaborate in reaching common goals to benefit all Filipinos in Hampton Roads. Through the CUFOT January Fund-raiser for the Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia, BAHR raised over $2,500.00 towards fulfilling the dream of ownership of our cultural center. In the tradition of philanthropy, Naneth Martizano of Malbar was selected to receive financial support.

The turning point of Jeff’s historic presidency in 2010, has brought Batangueños together in not only altruistic, but social activities as well. In keeping true to our social nature, all ages enjoyed sharing fellowship throughout Jeff’s inaugural year. Among the highlights were several successful events. Three generations teamed together to operate a bustling, successful halohalo stand at the annual Filipino-American Friendship Day. The much anticipated Christmas party and ever-popular Easter picnic remain yearly holiday highlights for the adults and children alike. Many would agree that each BAHR event has the feel of a family reunion. As for our Scholarship Program, BAHR has another graduate and will soon be selecting our newest scholarship recipient from Tuy.

Jeff’s administration has sparked an increase in participation among the second and third generation Batangueño-Americans. We hope to see the momentum continue through the next year and beyond. It is our goal to keep the ties strong within the BAHR family, and bring that same solidarity in the community to preserve and celebrate our Filipino Pride. We dedicate ourselves to a promising future of service and harmony. Under another year of Jeff’s leadership, BAHR will only prosper in this vision.

In January 2013, Madonna Grace Mendoza Valdez continued the transition of 2nd Generation Fil-Ams to lead the Batangas Association of Hampton Roads as she was elected president. Her parents, Danny and Mayette Mendoza, hail from Lipa City, Batangas. Madonna Grace represents BAHR as the Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater ("CUFOT").

Madonna Grace has exhibited a great sense of community, teamwork and collaboration as she has been an active contributor and member of other local Filipino organizations as well, for example, - Filipino American National Historical Society of Hampton Roads (“FANHS-HR”) have produced a couple of books based on the historical journey of the 1st Generation and she was one of the chapter writers for the book, “In Our Uncle’s Words; Madonna Grace has been a long-time supporter and advocate for Young Filipino American Modern Dancers (“YFAMD”) and assumed roles as entertainer, volunteer and even a panel judge for the ever-popular “Mr. Pogi Contest”.

During her first term, Madonna Grace continued the Batangas tradition of promoting family and intergenerational involvement. At the Easter Picnic, BAHR members showed that the rain wouldn’t keep them from gathering together. The annual Christmas party boasted one of highest attended gatherings. In March 2014, the president presented CUFOT with a donation of $1,000.00 toward the Philippine Culture Center building fund, bringing our community that much closer to the realization of full ownership of the center.

As she embarks on her second term, Madonna Grace hopes to continue BAHR’s legacy of support to the education of students with financial need. This year, she is guided by the theme of “intergenerational involvement”. She hopes to facilitate the transition among the generations where the younger generations will take the leadership of BAHR with the unwavering support of the elders. Only hand in hand, and across generational boundaries, will we persevere in our dedication to family and community.

As the succession continues and new leaders take their turn, we vow to perpetuate the Batangas legacy of tradition. family and values. Our future is linked to our beginning. Our present is secured.

As we affectionately say…. ALA eh…

CUFOT Member Organziations

[*] indicates a founding member of CUFOT

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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