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05 February 2014- Following their five-day intensive program in the Philippines in July 2013, youth leaders Rachelle Ocampo and Edward Santos held an echo seminar of their stories and lessons learned at a town hall meeting organized by the Philippine Consulate General in New York at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center last January 17. 


Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr., who went with the Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPRO) delegates during their five-day seminar around Metro Manila last year gave his remarks at the beginning of the program.  He encouraged those present to use what they would learn that evening to participate more in the community and make a tangible mark in the country’s progress.  He also invited them to apply for FYLPRO 2014 to get to know more about the Philippines, and learn to be great leaders that will influence the community.


Rachelle and Ed, both New York natives, conveyed to the audience their lessons and insights while meeting with the Makati Business Club, the social entrepreneurship initiatives of Gawad Kalinga, their dialogue with the young legislators, and their briefing on Philippine conditions at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila.  They also shared their stories and experiences touring around the Philippines and meeting President Benigno S. Aquino III during the Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour (ACGTDT) towards the end of the FYLPRO. 


The duo answered audience questions about the FYLPRO, and candidly gave their own opinions of the economic and political climate, as well as the social conditions in the Philippines.  Both agreed that the country has improved, as evident in the infrastructure projects being built in the major cities, the developments in the business districts, and the move toward increasing transparency in the government.  One question via twitter inquired about “factionalism” in the second-generation community in the US, to which Rachelle replied, “Yes we acknowledge that there is disunity in the community, but we are doing something about it.”

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Rachelle Peraz Ocampo is a full-time Health Educator and the President of Pilipino American Unity for Progress (UniPro), the umbrella organization of all Filipino-American school organization in the New York and New Jersey area. She earned a B.S. in Health Service Administration from St. John's University and her M.S. Ed. in Science and the Public from State University of New York at Buffalo.  After she returned from FYLPRO in July, she became a co-host of Makilala, the first Filipino-American oriented talk show in New York City. 


Ed Santos is a former teacher and a budget analyst, armed with a statistics degree from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science degree in secondary mathematics education from Pace University.  Ed ran a successful campaign at the Harlem City Council last year and was the only candidate among five challengers to qualify for matching campaign funds equivalent to almost US$65,000.



The FYLPRO will be held in July this year, and applications for the 10 slots will be accepted starting end of February.  Interested applicants are advised to stand by for more information to be announced by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Philippine Consulates General throughout the United States. END