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Filipino-American Organization of Northeastern Ohio celebrates 2016 Inaugural Ball

By Alwyn Galela
May 29, 2016


The Filipino-American Organization of Northeastern Ohio celebrated the 2016 Inaugural Ball on May 27 at the Mahoning Country Club. Newly elected President Cora Becker was ecstatic the whole night as she celebrated the official start of her tenure as the 17th president of the organization.

Based in Youngstown, Ohio, the organization was founded in 1987. It has since prospered into a tight-knit organization that will celebrate its 30th year anniversary next year. Aside from its yearly social events, FAONEO has also been active in helping out during catastrophes like the 2013 Typhon Haiyan, it has a program for second-generation Fil-Am kids’ Filipino acculturation (essay-writing contests and Ms. Maria Clara pageant), participation in multicultural events and Novena/Santo Nino (in cooperation with a local Fil-Am prayer group).

In her acceptance speech, Cora Becker, emphasized on what has been working for the organization based on Filipino-borne traits. She cited the big family concept that should be extended to the organization as the key to its longevity and continued success. She also asked for continued spirit of volunteerism as the key for furthering the mission of the organization. Before ending her speech, she thanked all the contributors and donors who made this event possible.

Being a Memorial Day weekend, it was fitting to have Cora Becker’s husband, Major Thomas Becker (USMC-RET) as the emcee for the night. During the singing of the American National Anthem, both active and retired military personnel were honored.  The guest speaker was former State Senator Harry Meshel who was himself a veteran of WWII. Senator Meshel is a stalwart of the Youngstown Area, if not the whole state of Ohio. The nonagenarian senator served 5 terms in the Ohio Senate that paved the way for numerous projects for the city. He championed education. He worked to create the Northeastern Universities College of Medicine, the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University and the Wright State University School of Professional psychology, among others. Senator Meshel served in the Pacific, including in the Philippines, were reminisced capturing a Japanese soldier, and 70 years later still has the prisoner's flag, gun and blood soaked waist band wrap. He came with some of the mementos of his battle pursuits and was happy to show them during the night. At the end of this speech, he encouraged the kids to pursue education and take control of their destiny.

The night of celebration also featured a cultural fashion show and dances.  Tinikling dancers, Francine McIntosh and Sean Galela, represented the gracefulness of Filipino youth. Lilian Stefanick, choreographer and former-Bayanihan dancer, performed a solo Muslim Dance. To represent multi-culturalism in the Philippines, Alwyn Galela and Vicky Rohrer modeled traditional Igorot costumes. Mestiza dresses, ternos and traditional barong tagalog were also featured.

Officers for this year include: Vicky Rohrer (VP), Odessa Morales (Rec. Sec.), Gina Diego (Cor. Sec.), Lorna Carolipio (Treasurer) and Cleo Wilkerson (Auditor). Past presidents Leah Schindell, Ken Bader, Delia O’neill and Alwyn Galela serves as Advisor. onsignor Robert Siffrin is the Spiritual Adviser.

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