June 22, 2012; Source: Inquirer Global Nation

Filipino-American leaders from across the country, including many community-based organizational heads, convened for a series of meetings in Washington, D.C. on Friday. The landmark gathering began with the first-ever White House briefing for the Filipino-American community, continued with panel discussions on the state and future of the Filipino community, and culminated with the celebration of Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) a solid ally who will retire this year after 36 years of service in Congress.

The series of events were organized by a group of Filipinos in government, advocacy, and research in tandem with Kaya DC. The organizers sought to mobilize participants and raise the visibility and influence of the second-largest Asian group in the United States. Filipinos have been in the U.S. since the 18th century but have remained mostly invisible at the highest levels of government, commerce, the military, and civil society. This gathering marks a new beginning for those in the next generation of Filipino-Americans, many of whom aspire to make a difference and be known not only as world-class singers or boxers, but as national leaders. – Erwin de Leon