UIAT: United Ilocano Association of Tidewater

Shortly after the inauguration of the Philippine American Community of Tidewater, townmates found one another and began to form small social circles. Before long, regional organizations mushroomed in 1975. One of the first regional groups formed at that time was the United Ilocano Association of Tidewater.(UIAT). The idea of forming an Ilocano Club was conceived in a casual conversation among a group of Ilocanos : Flor Andres, Tony Bonoan, Onofre Castillo, Hector Palalay,Sr Elmer Ramiscal, Filomeno Singson, and Ben Villanueva.

On his own initiative, Elmer Ramiscal mailed letters to Ilocanos in this area. At that time, Sid de Vera was visiting the family of Ben Villanueva who was helping Elmer plan the logistics of organizing. A President was needed and Sid de Vera was requested to ask his brother-in-law Dr. Manuel Hipol, who did consent. On September 14, 1975 one hundred fifteen Ilocanos gathered at the Green Run Clubhouse and officially elected the first set of officers and named the organization the UNITED ILOCANO ASSOCIA TION OF TIDEWATER.

Dr. Manuel Hipol was elected as the first President and served two terms; later succeeded by Elmer Ramiscal in 1978; Jessica Bello in 1979 & 1980; Peter Montilla,Jr in 1981; James Bugtong,Jr in 1982; Nita Cacanindin in 1983 & 1984; Venus Tomaneng in 1985 & 1986; Hector Palalay,Sr in 1987; Justo Manglicmot in 1988; Victoria Constante in 1989; Conrado Calpito in 1990; Ben Villanueva in 1991; Dr. Erlinda Ramiscal in 1992; Cristy Madriaga in 1993; Alex Callanta in 1994 & 1995; Lumen Barbero in 1996; Jim Madriaga in 1997; Alma Callanta in 1998; Ray Corsino in 1999; Bellie Guerrero in 2000; Dr. Laarni Bibay in 2001& 2002; Loida Santos in 2003,2004,2005; Merlyn Guerrero in 2006; Felipe Cabacoy in January 28 to October 22, 2008; Mark Crist from October 28, 2008 to December 31, 2008; Cristy Madriaga in 2009 & 2010; 2011 & 2012; Dr. Laarni Bibay 2013-2014. Dr. Bibay is the first President to serve two consecutive terms in a biennial election. This biennial election amendment was ratified in 2011.

For the first time in UIAT history, the election of the 2002 Presidency was contested. The election results prevailed, but the incident stirred the complacency of the 27 years old organization and brought about Constitutional amendments. Another historical event happened on May 9, 2004 when two factions debated whether UIAT should continue its affiliation with the Council of United Filipino Organizations of Tidewater (CUFOT). Continued membership in CUFOT prevailed.

Another "first" happened with the election of the 2006 officers who were all voted by acclamation. And another "first" was the Pearl Jubilee celebration on October 15, 2005 where one-of-a-kind pageantry took place when members competed against each other resulting in the selection of Mr. UIAT, Mrs. UIAT, Pearl of the Orient and King of the Orient. This was produced and directed by Cristy Madriaga.

Another "first" occurred on October 22, 2008 when a President resigned two months before the end of his term. In 2009, a Constitutional amendment changed the yearly election to a biennial election.

Through the ensuing years, UIAT has grown in membership and community involvement. Membership reached an all-time high of over 400 families. Later, it branched out and organized its Youth Club in 1978 and its Senior Citizens Group in 1979. It has also progressed from a self-advancing organization to a sharing organization. Services to the Filipino community have been volunteered by its members.

Because of the growing number and enthusiasm of the children and the desire to hopefully hand our Filipino culture and traditions and also a concern to provide them with wholesome activities, UIAT launched an ambitious Youth Awareness Program in 1983. It started with a monthly folk dance clinic, which developed the first group of a Youth Dance Troupe. The Dance Clinic later became a weekly class and practice sessions conducted by members of the Performing Arts Committee chaired by Jessica Bello. They shared their time and talent without remuneration.

This Youth Dance Troupe became instantly popular. They were invited to perform in Recreation Centers, Nursing Homes, Hospitals, churches, schools, American Civic groups in Hampton Roads including Newport News, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, the Naval Bases. They went out of State to Washington DC, Duke University, Durham, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After each performance, they received invitations to participate in future engagements.

In February 2000, the Youth Dance Troupe went to George Mason University, Fairfax to compete at Expressions, the first Filipino American East Coast Performing Arts competition. They won first place in the Filipino Folk Dance category competing against groups from the entire East Coast. The Senior Citizens Group also organized their own Dance Troupe which took notice and received invitations to grace both Filipino and American audiences. Their Dance Troupe dwindled in numbers by attrition and eventually faded away.

Miss Ilocandia (later changed in 1993 to Miss Teen Philippines of VA) popularity contest, Harborfest, Festevents concession stands, Atlantic City trips, Christmas caroling, Discos, shindigs are some of the revenue sources that have made possible yearly allocations of over $21,000 to scholarships and community charities as well as a generous Santa Claus at Christmas time. In 2000, the Miss Teen Philippines contest raised a record breaking revenue of $79,000 which allowed UIAT to donate $25,000 to the Building Fund of the Philippine Cultural Center.

Annual tuition assistance scholarships have not only been awarded to eligible UIAT youths, but also to deserving Filipino American graduating high school students in Hampton Roads schools. Depending on the success of the various fundraising drives, UIAT has awarded as much as $1,000 to each qualified student in a given year. In July 2000 a Dr. Erlinda Ramiscal Memorial Filipino American Scholarship from a family trust fund awarded its first $1000 scholarship. This scholarship is ongoing and is administered by the UIAT Scholarship Committee.

In 2003, under the Presidency of Rachel Crist, the Youth Club sponsored a child from the Philippines through the Christian Children Foundation. The Youth Club volunteered at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters interacting and playing with patients. They do fundraising drives to subsidize their own projects like giving Thanksgiving Baskets to a family in need.

In addition to the Scholarship Program, the Youth Club, the Senior Citizens Group, UIAT donates to Operation Smile, American Red Cross, Cancer Society, Joy Fund, Sisters of the Poor, other charities and especially and lavishly to the Philippine Cultural Center and continues to support and endorse fundraising drives of other Filipino American organizations.

There have been many on- and -off projects and events that have been undertaken such as Ilocano classes, pre-employment physical examinations by member physicians, blood pressure screening and CPR certification by member nurses, Big-time bingos, STEP classes, lectures by community specialists on taxes, self-defense, health maintenance, and more including a few Debutante's Balls Other events that have become annual activities are Valentine's Day luncheons, Easter Egghunt, a Spring Dance, Mothers' Day and Fathers' day luncheons, Grandparents Day Party hosted by UIAT,Inc. for the Senior Citizens Group, Thanksgiving luncheon, Christmas Family Party, and the gala Inaugural / Induction Dinner and Ball On February 7, 1986 the UIAT was incorporated under the Commonwealth of VA. On November 24, 2000, the IRS gave UIAT,Inc. the 501 C3 Tax Exemption status. To keep the members updated and informed an ILOCANDIA NEWS has been mailed to member families every month for 18 years and bi-monthly since Feb. 1994. In February 2000, the 23 year old Mimeograph machine that printed the Ilocandia News was retired and replaced with a Computer. The Sound System was upgraded with a Yamaha Keyboard to supplement the minus-one hookup. The Property inventory continues to grow. a FAX-Copy Machine, galley equipment to operate concessions, a wide variety of props and over $10,000 worth of costumes in the Folk Arts wardrobe.

UIAT Incorporated continues to be blessed with dedicated leaders and loyal hard working members who have carried on its traditions and mission.

CUFOT Member Organziations

[*] indicates a founding member of CUFOT

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