PAFCOM: A Generation Shaped By Culture
Thirty years after it was founded in Jersey City, New Jersey, the Philippine-American Friendship Committee Inc. just gave itself a new name: the Philippine-American Friendship Community, Inc. The name change is the biggest indication yet that PAFCOM has grown so big and has risen in influence in the Tri-State area. The Filipino American population in New Jersey is over 143,000 based on the 2018 US Census data. Today, PAFCOM is the biggest not-for-profit organization in the state, led by inspired community leaders with bold, implementable ideas and powered by legions of engaged members coming from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It is a village...a community that has made it its responsibility to give Filipino Americans the encouragement to speak up, be heard, and take action.
The services provided by PAFCOM are many and wide-ranging.
-to preserve Filipino cultural heritage;
-to assimilate Filipinos into mainstream society;
-to foster closer relationships between Filipino Americans and other ethnic communities;
-to keep Filipino Americans connected to the homeland through forums and discussions;
-to develop a well-focused plan that will assist the elderly, people with disabilities, the youth, the LGBTQ, and families in need and improve their quality of life; Essentially, to be there for the community.
Filipinos are a dynamic presence in America – making their voices heard in the corridors of power, in the school systems, in media and entertainment, in business boardrooms, and in health care. PAFCOM is a collaborative movement that has supported this growth and is grooming the next generation of Filipino Americans to continue the work that was started 30 years ago. There are many activities where the youth play meaningful roles, such as our mentoring programs, the voter registration campaign, the “Taste of the Philippines” at the soup kitchen, the Pusong Pinoy Health Fair, the annual Friendship Parade and Festival where Filipino cultural heritage is featured as well as Filipino food and crafts are on display as well as the annual picnics where families engage in games and fellowship. PAFCOM provides programs for Seniors that highlight cultural immersion by supporting trips with discounted tickets and free transportation to attend Broadway shows and Museum Exhibits. With the objective of heart disease and stroke prevention, health-centered activities such as walk-a-thons, senior dances, massage therapy and nutritional forums have been coordinated.
In this unprecedented time, we are all learning ways how to survive this Covid-19 pandemic. Many health care providers are risking their lives to care for the sick, working extra longer hours than their normal schedule with no places to buy food during their work hours. PAFCOM family in collaboration with Jersey City Filipino American local restaurants and other business enterprises provide and deliver 80 meals every week and care packages containing toiletries,, a total of 640 meals and 200 care packages for 8 weeks to our dedicated and hardworking front liners in Christ Hospital and Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, New Jersey.
PAFCOM has a solid history of fostering identity with the community and will continue to live Philippine culture in America.
Text by: Cristina Pastor
Edited by Connie Uy and Ledy Almadin
29 Years of Excellence in Community and Social Services
Going stronger with the passage of time and here to stay in Jersey City, the Philippine-American Friendship Community Inc. known as PAFCOM is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization comprising of committed and dedicated Filipino-American community leaders from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Primarily to engage in delivering an annual parade and festival each year in the month of June in Jersey City, New Jersey for Philippine-American Friendship Day, PAFCOM was thus established in 1990.
In so doing, the founders of PAFCOM aimed to enhance the general public’s understanding of Filipino culture and activities while simultaneously serving the community, earning for themselves that enviable recognition due to an ethnic group in the United States of America. Underlying this goal was the founders’ desire to see the integration of Filipinos into mainstream America most especially during the initial half of the nineties as its formative years.
As the Filipino-American community grew in population in Jersey City, the officers and members of PAFCOM realized the need to further engage in socio-cultural, charitable and educational undertakings that would benefit its constituency. In its second decade of existence, supportive services were then provided to address the needs of the Filipino community - its Families, Youth, Veterans and Senior residents. Jersey City has the highest concentration of Filipinos in a city in the entire US North East region. PAFCOM thus created its Community Development Center (CDC) in its second decade of existence.
The PAFCOM provides intergenerational services designed to foster traditional family and cultural values. For instance, the community theatre production “Looking for Williams” an intergenerational play was produced and acted out by a diverse cast on March 28, 2004. Other programs included weekly Zumba and Yoga classes, senior dances, walkathons, safe home, family bowling day, volleyball tournaments, golf outings and health fairs. Basketball clinics, teen theater and painting workshops are sponsored during the summer. To prepare our youth for leadership management, we sent qualified teens to the Lyndsay Meyer Leadership Training Camp.
These services cut across different ages, generations and cultures. PAFCOM also promotes and sponsors drug-free activities thru support from Community Development Block Grants and grants from the Jersey City’s Municipal Alliance.
The Philippines is notably famous for its diversity and artistry. Such pride sparked the desire of some PAFCOM leaders to showcase the best in Philippine fashion, music, dance and film inviting prominent Filipino fashion designers, singers, dancers, actors and actresses to the annual festivities and grand parades.
The activities during these past 29 years of PAFCOM reflected its strength . In one’s development, there are obstacles to entangle, hardships to surpass and frustrations to overcome. Through these struggles, PAFCOM becomes stronger.
September 3, 2014, was a turning point in the history of PAFCOM. There was a reorganization of its structure after the Constitution and By-Laws was amended on that day. The Year 2015 marks the big change in PAFCOM. No longer are there Over-all Chairs but PAFCOM has a Chairman of the Board, President and President-Elect who shall direct the organization to help define and shape its future.
PAFCOM’s mission, vision and goals will continually be nourished to benefit the deserving residents of Jersey City especially our youth and senior groups in the Filipino-American community as well as preserve our Filipino cultural heritage.