All in all, 2008 has been a positive year. We all knew the credit crisis was going to happen, we knew the bubble had to burst, it always does. The biggest consolation is that many of us have seen the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes already, meaning things can only and will get better and remain so or most of our lives. Good times can only exist if you have bad times to reference against.
As with Philippine Generations, 2008 has been our first full year of operation and it has not been easy. We have had disappointments, proud moments, low points and some very high points and we enter 2009 in better shape than when we entered 2008.
The biggest plus of the year has been all the people we have met and it would take ages and pages for us to list them all now! There are a few members of PG that have really showed us they believe in what we are trying to do and they are willing to get involved and take time out of their busy schedules to get involved in some of our projects and potential events, you know who you are! These PG members will be making a difference for our community in 2009 and in years to come.
We started out the year convinced that the community needs a stand out Filipino restaurant headed by an adventurous Filipino chef willing to contemporise Philippine cuisine. We end the year in the knowledge that there is a stand out Caribbean-Latino restaurant headed by an adventurous Filipino chef willing to contemporise Philippine cuisine! The restaurant is named Guanabana and is based in Camden, the owner Omar is a PG member and is offering a 10% discount on the food bill for all PG members who present a PG number and/or card. If only there were more young Filipino chefs out there with the drive and opportunity to open an establishment, it doesn’t even need to be a restaurant, a bar, a café will do, a ‘spot’ where, to coin a phrase, ‘everybody knows your name…’.
It was in Guanabana restaurant in Camden that we had our first Christmas lunch. It was an informal affair with enough people to get networking and debate happening and not too much so as we could not speak to everyone. We invited all the major second generation Filipino groups and organisations, our members and supporters. The previous day was the Ambassador’s Christmas party at his new residence in Kingston, so many had given their time to travel that day, needless to say there were a number of cancellations and apologies for not being able to make it.
The Lunch was superb! A veritable feast was laid out with healthy portions of jerk chicken, curry goat, flying adobo chicken wings, rice and peas, crispy calamari and fragrant chickpea and green mango coconut stew. We provided the wine and champagne for the evening, which did not stop flowing! After dinner we had an end of year speech and presented the owner, Omar with a signed copy of the award winning Filipino cook book, ‘Memories of Philippine Kitchens’ by successful restauranteur and acclaimed chef’s Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan.
We also announced a number of upcoming projects and initiatives that we feel will make a difference both here and in the Philippines. The big four being:
1) Philippine United FC – A football team has been registered with the English FA by the name of Philippine United FC (PUFC) and is affiliated with the Philippine Football Federation in the Philippines. The idea is to give British Filipinos a chance to play in a team that will eventually act as a feeder club for the National team. PUFC will make an application to join a league and will aim to send players to play in the Philippines as well as act as a stepping stone into the game in this country.
2) 2012 Olympics – We are in contact and have the necessary channels for those British Filipinos who would like to represent the Philippines in London at the next Olympics. Whatever event or sport you compete in, the Philippines is always looking at new sources of national pride, be it boxing, athletics, judo, fencing or even swimming, we can help you get in touch with the right people. Remember, the President offered P15million to any Filipino who wins a Gold medal in Beijing 2008, after the glory, the place in history and the victory in London, that sounds like a good bonus to me!
3) VSO – We are in talks with the VSO about partnering with them for their diaspora outreach programme. The idea is we will act as a go between for the projects that need volunteers in the Philippines and those, especially those from a Filipino background, who want to volunteer some of their time to helping a Filipino community and gaining a unique life experience that they will keep with them for the rest of their lives.
4) Pinoy Theatre – We are involved with a group of young experienced Filipino producers who are aiming to put on a production of Philippine cultural theatre featuring tales and myths from Philippine folklore. It is ambitious and a brilliant idea, more importantly, they know what they are doing! They have everything in place and the first show will be in April, we hope those of you in the UK will show some support and catch at least one of their shows!
If you want any information on any of these projects, please contact us.
For our kababayans working abroad, those back home and those born and raised outside the Philippines, 2008 was a year of realisation, with many sensing a change in our country amongst our communities abroad and there is a new sense of pride and hope, not least brought out through Barack Obama’s emphatic rise and in Manny’s destruction of an ageing De La Hoya. We have also suffered an economic catastrophe after being inspired by a fantastic Olympic games. Not bad for a year that went by so quick that I just realised Heath Ledger died almost a year ago.
So to 2009, we know change can and will happen, it is inevitable, even Rome fell to its knees, but what can we do this year? At the very least you can join us and help us make a difference for the next generations of our community.