Newly elected president Maria Annamae G. Adaza of the United Filipino Organization called for unity among her fellow leaders in the Filipino community to effectively accomplish the group's mission, citing their added responsibilities resulting from the closure of the consulate,
“We do have all our differences, different points of view and opinions, different status in life but at the end of the day, we are all the same. So let's just support each other for the betterment of our community,” said the former UFO secretary.
Adaza, along with other elected officers of the network of Filipino groups in the CNMI, took their oath during the installation ceremony held Saturday night at the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan.
Sen. Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian) inducted the new officers: Adaza of Visminda, vice president Wilfredo “Boy” Ching of MDX, secretary Mario Mayuga of MAFEA, assistant secretary Anatalia De Guzman of Bayani Association, treasurer Evelyn Deazeta of Bayani Association, Fernando “Bok” Enano of NAMFREL, auditor Florenda Miranda of SIP, public relations officer Saturnino “Jun” Alciso of Bayan Association, and safety officers Renato Gaviola of Boholano and Donato Galvez of CNMI Power.
Also inducted were the chairpersons of the different committees in charge of UFO events: Bayani Association's Olivia Yana for Pusong Pinoy, MDX's Peter Crisostomo for Mt. Tapochao, Triskelion's Tom Jeffrey Tiongson for Pistang Pinoy, MAFEA's Randy Jacob, NAMFREL's Bok Enano for Palarong Pinoy, and Visminda's Nelida Atalig for Paskong Pinoy.
The event was attended by over a hundred representatives of member organizations and dignitaries that included Gov. Benigno and first lady Josie Fitial, Hofschneider, Education Commissioner Rita Sablan and husband Frank, Tan Holdings president Jerry Tan, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs' Melvin Faisao and Maribel Loste.
In his remarks, Fitial noted how UFO has offered so much to the Filipino community through its fiesta-like events that give Filipino workers on island “a feel of being home.”
With the closure of the consulate and the absence of honorary consuls, Fitial said the UFO is now bound to look after the well-being of Filipinos in the Commonwealth.
“As some of you know, Filipinos are very dear to my heart. I do care, hindi lang po halata [It's just not obvious],” said Fitial, drawing chuckles from his audience. “Many of you living here consider CNMI your second home and Filipinos will always be welcome to stay, to work, be part of the productive and abiding citizens of the Marianas.”
Outgoing president Bong Malasarte, for his part, congratulated Adaza, saying, “I am very confident that she will lead the UFO with excellence.”
The outgoing president also discussed the achievements during his term, including the donations made to the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, American Red Cross - NMI Chapter, Saipan Simbang Gabi Group, and the Manta Ray Band; and relief efforts for victims of several typhoons in the Philippines.
UFO also handed out certificates and plaques of appreciation to all outgoing officers, sponsors, and supporters during the event hosted by Paul Madriaga and Minda Castro.