Philippine Heritage Institute Inc., sponsors Annual Youth Congress

Naomi P. Armada: June 29, 1929 – June 10, 2015 (photo courtesy of

Naomi P. Armada: June 29, 1929 – June 10, 2015 (photo courtesy of

In honor of former Philippine Heritage Institute International’s (PHII) founder, Naomi Palma-Armada, the Annual Youth Congress was held last Saturday, August 27th at the Rosemead Community Center. This event is held annually to keep Naomi’s legacy and to “rekindle interest in the youth movement and its role in nation-building.”

As a foundation, PHII’s mission is to: “stand for health and education as key factors for advancement. It is only when communities are healthy and knowledgeable can they fully achieve their goals.”

PHII was founded in 1989, as a non-profit organization, “focused on the advancement of Filipino Americans through Youth Development Programs.” For the past 27 years, it has promoted Philippine culture and has gained progress in bridging the cultural gap for more understanding through its numerous educational and outreach programs such as: Art exhibits, cultural shows, media symposiums and various other community-related events.

Speakers during the event included welcome remarks by current PHII executive Director, Dr. Anna L. Armada-Chickey and Arthur “Jojo Armada, PHII Vice-President/Trustee, followed by keynote speaker, City of Claremont Councilmember, Corey Calaycay, who was introduced by PHII Trustee, Willy Leano.

Corey Calaycay’s message to the youth attendees was for them to “first of all not to forget their Filipino heritage and to find leadership in the community, though it is important to earn their education, to enable them to be effective individuals over time. Community colleges can be their s tarter, not necessarily aim for the Ivy League. Find the profession that motivates them. Self-evaluation is key, to make them realize their potential.  He related the story on his involvement with the government which has brought him to where he is today. You’re never too young to get involved in your community.

Jed Leano, an Immigration Law Attorney in private practice, presented a very engaging and  encouraging video overview on preparing for law school admission and how to pursue a legal career. This young lawyer, who’s father Willy was this author’s colleague with the then Fil-Am Bayanihan Jaycees during the mid-80’s, has not only acquired the great leadership of his Dad but has earned a name for himself as a successful Immigration Law specialist, who has “won deportation cases on behalf of numerous refugees seeking protection in their home countries, as well as defending numerous victims of religious persecution and victims of domestic violence in deportation proceedings before the United States Immigration Court.

Other significant speakers were: Freya Nishimura, Program Manager of Asian American Professional Association, who is Certified Professional Coach. Ms. Nishimura has an extensive experience in promoting leadership,symposiums and outreach programs geared for the youth. Jose Relson Banas, Vice Principal of Rosemead High School, spoke about “Blending In,” and how the youth can program themselves to reach their goals in order to be successful in life.

Finally, in her closing remarks, Josie Estaris De Jesus, PHII President/Trustee, encouraged all the youth attendees to not only pursue a good education but also to start getting involved in the community they live in. Thus ends this year’s PHII Youth Congress with its theme: “Blending In, Standing Out: The Filipino American Youth.”

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