Young Fil-Am leaders share experience of immersion trip to PH


LOS ANGELES — Filipino Americans between the ages of 25 to 40 years old are encouraged to apply for this year’s Fil-Am Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), a weeklong immersion trip to the Philippines.

FYLPRO, started in 2012 by former Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr. and his wife, Victoria, chooses 10 “outstanding young professionals” from Fil-Am communities across the country to visit the Philippines, where they will meet with key players in government, business, social entrepreneurship, and arts and culture.


In addition to meetings, one day is devoted to service, such as farming or rebuilding areas destroyed by disasters.

Applications for the sixth batch are due on July 21 and the weeklong trip will be held from October 8 to 14. The all-expenses paid program is made possible through partnerships with the Ayala Foundation and the Philippine foreign service posts throughout the U.S.


At an information session in Los Angeles on Friday, June 30, past delegates shared their experiences of how the trip, despite its length, enabled them to connect with their Filipino roots.

“This trip gives you that perspective of the different societal norms, the economic issues, a firsthand look at what the government is doing, access to members of Congress, and understanding the innovation they’re doing as well, ” shared Alex De Ocampo, who was part of the inaugural batch in 2012.

He added, “You’re seeing the differences in the country and how it’s changing. It was very impactful in the sense that you’re seeing growth, you’re seeing some poverty — the extremes. But it’s really opening up your mind to what’s happening in the Philippines.”

Anna Marie Cruz, a business development officer at CDC Small Business Finance, went on to say that the itinerary gives an opportunity to have a dialogue with various decision makers.

“It also leads to a lot of identity questions because a lot of these problems we have a rooted in our colonial history [and] the ‘crab mentality’ we experience here is rooted in [that], so whether it’s this epiphany of what you can do for the community as a whole or what you do for yourself in order to rise above that baggage you’ve been carrying but didn’t know about, it’s a pretty amazing program that it can do that for you,” Cruz said. “It’s personal, but it’s also this collective.”

During the program, each delegate has the responsibility to develop his or her own “legacy project,” which is a social impact initiative focused on the Philippines and Filipino communities abroad that are social enterprise, philanthropic or civic engagement focused. Some past examples include empowering Filipina entrepreneurs and HIV research and prevention.

Other alumni of the program over the years include Tony and Grammy Award-winning producer Jhett Tolentino, restaurateur Nicole Ponseca, Ryan Letada of storytelling platform NextDayBetter, and Jason Tengco, executive director of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA).


The criteria is that applicants must be 25-40 years old, demonstrate leadership skills within school, community or workplace, and show involvement or interest in issues that align with the interest of the Fil-Am community or the Philippines.

Requirements include an intention to apply form, an application form, resume, two letters of recommendation, a profile photo and 200-word bio. To apply, visit

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TAGS: Fil-Am Young Leaders Program, FYLPRO, immersion trip, Philippine immersion visit for young Filipino Americans, young Filipino American leaders
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