The History of Filipino Young Professionals of Washington, D.C.
by Joe Montano
The Filipino Young Professionals of the Metropolitan Washington, DC area (FYP-DC) was founded in 1998 as an announcement board. It was a forum to get together voluntarily to create a strong network of Filipino and Filipino-American professionals. The original members of FYP discussed the competing ideas of making it a formal group and keeping it a non-formal, non-committal bulletin board for community announcements. Eventually, the notion of having a formal group was shelved in favor of leaving FYP-DC as a listserv.
2000 – 2001: The Beginning
There had always been a question about the 20- and 30-something generation and how they could connect with the Filipino-American community in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area. Of course, there were the regional organizations, the professional associations and the coalitions among the elders in addition to the college student associations. Even young children had cultural schools and cultural performing arts organizations.
There were two distinct conversations going on among young professionals. Tristan Loanzon, originally from California was talking with two other folks, Joseph Manalili, also from California, and Melissa Cabacar, about the need to network among young Filipino-Americans in DC.
At the same time Nick Tongson was being encouraged by Jon Melegrito to start a young professional organization. I think the conversation went like this…
Jon M.: “Don’t you think having a young professional organization would be a great idea?”
Nick T.: “Yes. It would.”
Jon M.: “Then why don’t you start one?”
Having been party to both these conversations, I suggested that they pool their resources and work on it together. As a result, we had our call for the first of many happy hours at the Daily Grill at 18th & M Streets. It was a snow-covered wintery day of January 2000, and 32 people gathered to meet. The folks who came were folks who had moved to DC for work or school. There was also a good number of locals, too.
Being the community organizer, I got out a sheet and had folks sign-in and provide their e-mail addresses. I then created a yahoo group choosing FYP-WDC as the designation. The nature of the listserv was to help promote activities happening in the DC area, organize future socials and share information (housing, restaurants, jobs, etc). As word spread, the listserv became populated with over 300 individuals. Also, folks in New York City, Philadelphia and Virginia Beach were encouraged to start their own groups.
Early on there was a desire to formalize this group and meetings were hosted by the Philippine Embassy. At that time, there were folks who supported the idea or incorporation, but weren’t able to commit to the necessary time in which to accomplish the work. It wasn’t until a few years later, that a group of younger newly-graduated folks decided that they would be able to commit to working on formalizing the group.
2002: Transition Year
In 2002, Rafael (RJ) Diokno picked up the torch and continued to organize social and networking events. He became the “de facto” president of the group. His commitment to the group brought many new people into the “informal group” who would later become the drivers into making FYP-DC into a nonprofit.
2003-2005: Becoming a 501(c)7
While the FYP-DC listserv has become an increasingly popular forum for Filipino young professionals in the DC area, many believed that the organization should be restructured to reassess its direction. RJ Diokno, Anthony David and Therese “Wit” Lizardo had the initial discussion to form an organized group. In late 2003, those three with several volunteers voiced interest in expanding existing events and developing new programs to benefit the community on both a networking, and professional level. In 2004, the first FYP-DC e-board was created (refer to Officer page for names and positions of prior e-boards). After the e-board’s hard work, FYP-DC became incorporated on November 2, 2005 and changed the FYP-WDC listserv to FYP-DC General Listservs (with over 500 subscribers) and created a member only FYP-DC Member listserve.