We help Filipinos find a second home

Columbus, Georgia (WRBL) – The Filipino American Association (FAA) of Columbus was founded in 1989 and part of its mission statement is to “promote positive relationships between Filipinos and Filipino Americans”. According to the members, it has become much more than that.

“It reminds me of my roots. And of course, the founding members have established this organization as a home away from home,” said Velvalane Campos, current president of the FAA Columbus.

For several members of the FAA meeting, Columbus members have helped them call the Chattahoochee Valley home, even after relocating from other parts of the country or world. Janine Abano moved to the US from the Philippines in 2016 and recently graduated from Columbus State University. She thanks the FAA for helping her through the difficult transition to the United States

“This club itself is like my second home away from the Philippines. Because all my family lives in the Philippines and this is my second home,” said Abano.

Darrell Guernesy, who joined the FAA in 1995, and Rebecca Stutsman, who joined the FAA in 2006, say this organization was key to settling in Columbus and finding a new extended family.

“We came from New York and tried to connect with others. Our family lives on the east coast. We needed a group of people who could form a family network that could help us integrate into the US and Georgia,” Guernsey said.

“I had a little kid and I had kids who really didn’t know anyone. So I have them and I don’t know anything about the Philippines. You actually grew up with the kids there. They’ve become more engaged with their culture,” Stutsman said.

The other great mission of the FAA is to bring Filipino culture to all of its members, especially the younger members. One way to do this is by teaching and performing traditional Filipino dances. Although it can be intimidating to some, parents at the FAA were pleasantly surprised at how their children took the opportunity to dance.

“I’m amazed at how interested and proud they are to learn it and share it with other people. I am proud to say that we are known for having good dances,” said Deana Tagana, a former FAA president and current advisor.

For the FAA’s younger members, like current Georgia Tech student Kevin Guernsey, learning the traditional dances is a way to reconnect with one’s roots. He was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, but these dances help him understand his Filipino culture much more deeply.

“It’s really important for me to be able to dance to Filipino dances like tinikling, malalatik and all that. Because it’s part of me and my culture, part of my history. It’s really exciting to be able to show everyone a part of me,” said Guernsey.

For more information on the Filipino American Association, see Visit their website.

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