For the first time since its inception in 1995, the Marianas Association of Filipino Engineers and Architects has installed its first female president.
Birhen Martinez, together with other new MAFEA officers, was sworn in at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan at noon last Sunday.
MAFEA is organization of Filipino engineering and architecture professionals in the CNMI.
The prospect of leading a male-dominated organization did not come with some hesitation on the part of Martinez, who actually had second thoughts about accepting the position.
“…MAFEA is a group of engineers and architects. These are male-dominated professions, so being a member of the organization alone was really hard, but being president would be a lot harder,” she said.
What pushed her to eventually take over the reins of the organization was the feeling of empowerment it gave her.
Also, “I felt the camaraderie and professionalism among the members. …It didn’t matter what your gender was,” she said, adding that she felt she was on common ground during her four-year stay with the organization.
“…I have been amazed at the outpouring of support from all of our members in helping me get ready for my upcoming term… This gives me a good reason and [I] decided to give it my best,” she said during her induction speech Sunday.
One of her main focuses for the organization would be recruiting new members. In an interview with Saipan Tribune, she noted that there are MAFEA members in the U.S. mainland, the Philippines, in Guam, and on other islands within the CNMI.
“Without new and committed members, we might run out of ideas and energy in promoting the core values of this organization. Our membership will play an important role in the success of our plans,” she said.
The organization, which consists of over 40 members, assists with several community projects, including a recent bus restoration project on Navy Hill, their Hopwood Middle School dust mitigation project, and basic construction plan reading training.
They also do projects in the Philippines, including their recent cleanup after massive flooding at the San Miguel Elementary School in Bulacan, Philippines.
The other MAFEA officers inducted last Sunday were vice president Ariel Villanueva, secretary Carlito Marquez, treasurer Andrew Mesina, auditor George Medina, public relations officer Hector Sevilla, and business manager Noeh Cruz.
MAFEA board of directors chair Larry Manacop, vice chair Randy Jacob, and board members Fernan Macida, Fernando Fortades, and Gregorio Saracho were also inducted.