Former Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Simrun Chhabr
Filipino Community of Seattle

For over 80 years, the Filipino Community of Seattle has been a galvanizing force and a cultural touchstone for thousands of Filipinx Americans and other immigrants throughout our community. We were born out of a time of great racial strife and segregation; when people of color were barred from owning property in many portions of Seattle; a time when communities of color turned to each other for social, cultural and civic support. Over the years, we have helped to shape and enrich the Greater Seattle community we know today, and to provide leadership on many issues of civil rights, social justice, and culturally appropriate and relevant response to basic needs. We are especially proud to be one of our community’s longest-standing, most impactful, people of color-led organizations, and one of the first Filipinx organizations in the nation. 

About FCS

Found in 1935, Filipino Community of Seattle is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social service organization providing affordable housing, senior services, youth development and STEM programs, arts and culture programs, and basic needs programs in the form of food bags and warm meals.

Our Historical Timeline

Expand to learn more about our background dating back to 1927


1927 University of Washington Filipino students conceived of purchasing a students’ clubhouse. A committee was formed; and an aggressive fundraising campaign from the Alaska canneries during the fishing season yielded a sizeable amount. 1929 To attract broader support, the name of sponsoring organization was changed from University of Washington Students Clubhouse to Seattle Filipino Community Clubhouse. 1935 The Philippine Commonwealth Government was inaugurated in Manila. To have a common celebration in Seattle, the disparate Filipino organizations agreed to form a new organization called Philippine Commonwealth Council of Seattle (PCCS), which was to hold a two-day Philippine Commonwealth Day celebration. A constitution and a set of by-laws were drafted and approved. The two-day celebration was a resounding success. A new era has arrived, Filipinos in Seattle had finally become united. The organization was incorporated. 1940 Pio de Cano sued and won a landmark case enabling Filipinos to purchase land. He contested the application of the 1921 Alien Land Law to Filipinos, which prohibited non-citizens from owning land. He won the case on the grounds that Filipinos had not been “aliens” but “nationals” at the time the law was passed. After that ruling, de Cano became the first Filipino homeowner in Seattle. 1946 The Philippines was granted independence on July 4. The name Philippine Commonwealth Council of Seattle became inappropriate. The Filipinos adopted a new name: the Filipino Community of Seattle and Vicinity. A new constitution and a set of by-laws were adopted and was re-incorporated under the laws of Washington. 1952 In anticipation of the 3rd wave of Filipino immigrants entering Seattle, the organization was renamed “Filipino Community of Seattle, Incorporated.” 1965 The Community Council (FCS Leadership Council) authorized and approved the purchase of a property (a bowling alley) at 5740 Empire Way S (now MLK Jr Way S). The property is now known as the Filipino Community Center (FCC). 1973 The mortgage for FCC has been paid in full. 1974 A mortgage burning ceremony was held. With the complete ownership of the building by FCS, a milestone has been reached by Seattle Filipinos. It is a symbol of a people’s unity. 1984 The Senior Lunch Program was established. It is funded by the City of Seattle Senior Services through the Pacific Asian Empowerment Program. Low cost, hot, delicious and nutritious lunches are served to seniors on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The lunch program continues to this day and now serves over 100 seniors. 1995 FCS launched Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) with a $38K grant from the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods. The program, nurturing growth and maturity among Filipino American youth, is designed within the perspective of Filipino culture and values to provide them leadership skills, civic consciousness, and self-help for the youths to help their peers, and to provide pro-active action in their respective neighborhoods. 2000 The first FCS Miss Gay contest was staged. It was considered “daring” at the time as it was the first of its kind to be held at FCC. 2003-2008 The community saw major renovation of the Filipino Community Center and the development of responsive programs and services. 2010 The FCS Board members voted unanimously to proceed with the pre-development stage of the Filipino Community Village; working toward the development and construction of a two-phased housing, commercial and community service facility with projected cost of $20 million. 2012 FCS hired is first paid Executive Director. 2013 By unanimous vote of the Board Members, the FCS by-laws changed from general election to recruitment of board members subject to board approval. The board elects the President and Officers from among the board members. Term of the President is limited to 2 terms with 3 years/term; the other officers are limited to 3 terms with 3 years/term. The Washington State Legislature awarded $1.2 million to FCS to fund the construction of the Innovation Learning Center. 2018 FCS Board selected Beacon Development to build the Filipino Community Village. Cost of the Village was projected to be $30 million.
Capital campaign for the Village entered a hectic phase. One-on-one solicitation with community member, and events, like Kamayan, were held to raise the funds. By the end of the year, approximately $3 million were raised from individuals, foundations, corporations, and state, city and county government for the Innovation Learning Center. 2019 Board Members adopted a 3-year strategic plan to guide FCS operations in 2019 – 2022. Groundbreaking for the Village was held on September 18, and construction commenced in December, 2019.





 
FCS-Kalahi-Kids-Tinikling.jpeg
 Our Vision

A united, thriving and vibrant Filipinx community.

Our Mission

To foster the well-being of Filipinx in Greater Seattle through culturally appropriate services and gathering spaces. 

We develop client centered social service programs for Filipinx community members and friends who come through our doors; open our spaces to anyone to gather; advocate for social justice, equity and inclusion for ALL people; and respect and preserve the Filipinx history and traditions through arts and cultural programs.

 
Our Values

Respect

We honor our elders, history and traditions. We understand we are where we are today because of the hard work, sacrifices and perseverance of those who came before us.


We listen and treat others the way we would like to be treated.


We demonstrate fairness, consistency and compassion in our interactions with others.

Accountability

We are accountable to our stakeholders and the community we serve.


We set high standards for ourselves and community, and strive to transform for a better future.


We keep our integrity by keeping our words and promises, and being transparent in our decisions and actions.

Commitment

We fulfill the roles entrusted to us using our talent and skills to the best of our abilities and without any hesitation for the common good. We wholeheartedly share our experiences and resources to benefit the organization and Filipinx community.


We believe in servant leadership. We are committed to serving the community and each other without regard to what we get back in return.


We unite and lift each member of the community towards achieving success.


We take pride and celebrate individual and/or group achievements.

 

We work together as a team to serve better our Filipinx community.

Social Justice

We seek to end all forms systemic racism that is the root of oppression.


We strive to eliminate the racial equity gap that negatively impacts all communities.


We are explicit and intentional about advocating for the unique needs of marginalized populations in order to improve equity.


We advocate breaking barriers to further social mobility, creating safety nets for financial stability paving the way towards economic sustainability.

Diversity & Inclusion

We accept everyone from all walks of life without regard to race, color, religion, creed, national origin or ancestry, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, physical, or mental capability.


We provide programs that are accessible and inclusive to all communities and individuals.


We listen carefully and consider diversity in opinion when making decisions.  We all benefit when diversity of perspectives is seen, heard, valued and included.

 
Board Members

Representing various segments of the community with varying backgrounds, education, expertise, and experience, our servant leaders believe in FCS’ vision, mission, and values. Our leaders work on achieving this belief by identifying and developing programs that benefit the Filipinx community members and others; creating a welcoming environment at the Filipino Community Center; delivering the services to clients with utmost respect; advocating for fairness and social justice; having ethnic pride through arts and cultural programming; and ensuring strong organizational infrastructure for FCS. 

Officers

 

Edwin C. Obras, Board President

Edwin has been on the FCS Board since 2016 and volunteered on the Filipino Community Village Advisory Committee prior to that.  His volunteerism for the community goes back to his college days when he created and conducted a needs survey for the aging Filipino population demonstrating a need for culturally competent health services and long-term care facilities.  He has worked in the human services field the last 25 years on programs and funding. He currently
works for the Seattle Human Services Department.


Edwin grew up on Beacon Hill, is a proud University of Washington alumni and received a Master of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Non-Profit, Philanthropy and Social Change from Northeastern University.  He served as past Chair of the City of Seatac Human Services Advisory Committee and served at his son’s Seattle school’s PTSA and boosters.

Armilito J Pangilinan, Board Vice President of Executive Operations

With more than 25 years of non-profit leadership experience, Armilito enjoys building organizations and organizational units from the ground up.  He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Building Changes where he oversees Finance, Human Resources and Operations. He works closely with the executive and leadership teams to develop strategies and implement programs and systems that help the organization function optimally.  He has served in leadership capacity in various organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Foundation for the Blind, Alzheimer’s Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and other local non-profits. 


Armilito is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Washington State.  He finished his BS in Accounting and MBA degrees from City University of Seattle. Prior to becoming a Board Member of FCS, he has been involved with the Filipino Community Village Advisory Board since 2015. He is currently a Board Member of Seattle Indian Health Board and Lavender Rights Project, a former Board Member of International Community Health Services, and the Founding President of the ICHS Foundation.

Jules Posadas, Board Vice President

Jules is currently Capital Project Coordinator, Communication Lead at the Seattle Department of Transportation.  He has worked in various departments of the City of Seattle with various roles and responsibilities. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences focused in Community Planning with a minor in Community Environmental Planning.

 

Jennifer A. Cruz, Board Secretary

Jennifer currently serves as secretary of the board. She is a member of the board’s program committee and the community relations and advocacy committee. She also volunteers for the senior lunch program and has previously served as volunteer coordinator. 


Jennifer is a Judge Pro Tempore for the King County District Court and the cities of Kent, Kirkland, Tukwila, Issaquah and Des Moines Municipal Courts. She also is a criminal defense attorney who has represented indigent individuals in serious felony offenses for 25 years. 


Born and raised in South Seattle, Jennifer attended St. Edward School and John F. Kennedy High School. She graduated from the University of Washington and received her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law. She is the proud mother of three children who also volunteer their time at FCS.

Delia Vita, Board Treasurer

Delia has been involved with FCS since 2009 when she began volunteering as a member of the Cultural & Arts Program. Delia’s involvement grew in 2011 when she accepted the role as a Board Member and assumed the responsibility as treasurer in 2015.  She does not limit her role as a Board Member as she also demonstrates her culinary skills in the kitchen during senior lunch.  Her favorite quote is, “Action speaks louder than words.” 


Delia is a passionate and committed community servant.  She currently serves on several nonprofit Boards including Pedro Calungsod Guild-Immaculate Conception Church-Seattle; Dignity/Seattle, and Global Naguilianders Alliance Network.


Delia holds a B.S. in Finance from Central Washington University

Directors

 

Aileen Balahadia

Aileen is a Northwest native and a child of Philippine immigrants who lives with her family in Southeast Seattle. She has been fortunate to work in the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Seattle including the Chinatown/International District, Columbia City, White Center and the Rainier Valley. A 20+ year practitioner in community development, Aileen is now an independent consultant working on neighborhood and community projects focused on authentic community leadership, particularly from the least represented members of our community, multicultural coalition building, and community and nonprofit capacity building. She is currently the Program Consultant for Neighbor to Neighbor, the grassroots grantmaking program of the Seattle Foundation. This works includes grantmaking as well as technical assistance, networking and support to grassroots communities of color based organizations. Her other clients have included RVC, City of Seattle, Families of Color Seattle, Communities Rise and HomeSight.


She served for 8 years as the Executive Director of the White Center Community Development Association and previously worked with the Seattle Chinatown ID Preservation and Development Authority and Local Initiatives Support Corporation. She currently serves on the board of the Seattle Chinatown ID Preservation and Development Authority. Aileen has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School at the University of Washington and a BA from the University of Puget Sound

Mimi Castillo

Mimi is a retired lawyer and now enjoys spending time with family and friends, and traveling. Among many of her accomplishments, she founded or co-founded various local, state and national legal organizations such as Filipino Lawyers of Washington (FLOW), Asian Bar Association of Washington (ABAW), National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA), and National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

Francis Franco

Francis is an Agent licensed to sell insurance through New York Life Insurance Company and may be licensed with various other independent unaffiliated insurance companies. Additionally, he is a Registered Representative of and offer securities products & services through NYLIFE Securities LLC, (Member FINRA/SIPC), A Licensed Insurance Agency. Francis is a Retirement Income Certified Professional which he obtained from American College of Financial Services. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management from de laSalle University – College of Benilde in the Philippines.

Gemma Mechure

Gemma Mechure had been volunteering at the community for a few years now. Gemma is honored to be part of the Board and making the volunteering official. She is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas and had been working as a Medical Planner in Seattle for more than 20 years. She has work experience not only in the US but also in the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. 


Gemma’s husband, June is a Principal/Electrical Engineer in Bellevue, WA , her daughter Miko is a graduate of PhD in Psychology and works in UCLA Medical Center and her son Josef who has a degree in Sociology/Computer works in Microsoft. Gemma had co-founded a Charity Foundation with her family and currently serves as its CEO. This Foundation helps support students in the Philippines to help them achieve academic success and excellence. Aside from being an Architect, mother, wife, Foundation CEO and FCS Board member, Gemma is also a part time cake designer and baker and donates 100% of the profit from her cake ventures to charity. 

Dorcas Olegario

Dorcas is as an experienced executive administrative professional with responsibilities in the judicial system and public safety for King County Courts. Prior to her King County assignment, she worked for the Seattle Police Department for over 13 years as Administrative Specialist for the chief of police and various commanders of Seattle Police Department.


Dorcas is the ambassador for the King County Superior Court Employee Giving Program, and the business manager for the annual Barrio Fiesta festival held in the City of Edmonds. She also takes part in special events production for local talents from the Philippines. 


Full of energy, she is truly a dedicated and passionate community leader who embraces all people with warmth and kindness. She loves to travel and travel some more. Most importantly, Dorcas’ highest and happiest priority is her family – being happily married, the mother of five beautiful children and three adorable grandchildren. 

Florian Purganan

Florian has practiced exclusively in immigration and citizenship law since 2005. His practice encompasses all areas of immigration law, including adjustment of status, K-1 visas, family-based petitions, naturalization, U Visas, VAWA, asylum, and extreme hardship waiver applications. Furthermore, he regularly represents clients in removal proceedings and litigates cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


Since the beginning of his legal career, Florian has been committed to community service. He is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and most recently served on the Executive Committee for the Washington State Chapter as Treasurer

Juancito “Chito” Supena

Chito is a successful entrepreneur. He is a licensed General Contractor in Washington State through his company CSB General Contractor LLC. He is also licensed-insured-bonded to work on engineering construction under CSB Telecom Services. Before immigrating to the US, he was with AT&T (Phils.) as Logistics Procurement Director in the Philippines, and as International Field Telecom Engineer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He eventually worked as Switching Wireless Engineer at Saudi Telecom, Singapore Telecom, Bangkok Telecom, Nigeria Econet Wireless, and Shenzhen China. Chito graduated with degree in Electronics and Communications Engineer from Asian Institute of Technology. 


Prior to joining the FCS Board of Directors, Chito was President of Bicol Association of Washington and was a Board of Director of Filipino American Society of Architect and Engineers. He is currently the Regional Vice President – Pacific Region of Bicol National Association of America, an organization that provides medical mission, Operation Smile, support during calamities, and assistance to an orphanage (Sagrada de Familia) in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Chito is the Team Lead for Our Lady of Peñafrancia annual devotion event at Saint Edward’s Church.

Chris Klepper

Chris brings with him over 17 years of tech industry experience as an engineering manager and program/product manager where he has delivered several customer and business products as a full-time employee for companies like Microsoft and Google. Chris is passionate about and has experience with helping in organizing STEM/STEAM programs for education and non profit organizations, especially for underrepresented groups in the tech industry.


Chris is a Seattle-area native and UW graduate (attending both Seattle and Bothell campuses) with a degree in Computer Science and minor in Math. While growing up in the region, Chris has resided in various locations on the North side of Lake Washington along with Seattle. Chris is of Southeast Asian descent (Malaysian), and his wife Ana is Filipino and a former teacher at St Paul Catholic School in Seattle. Chris and Ana currently reside on the northeast side of Lake Washington with their 3 daughters.

 
Our Staff

Our staff works hard to make things happen at the Filipino Community of Seattle. They are responsible for ensuring the facilities are well-maintained and welcoming, and program services are delivered to members of the Filipinx community and others.

Agnes Navarro, Executive Director

Agnes Navarro oversees the day to day operations of FCS. She ensures the programs and activities are effectively delivered to the community members and programs are sufficiently funded.  She is an experienced administrator for more than 20 years prior to assuming the position of Executive Director.  She has an entrepreneurial spirit. She has started non-profit organizations here in Seattle from the ground up and successfully received sufficient funding for those organizations. 

Agnes has a degree in Medicine and has retired from the University of Washington after 31 years of service.  She is currently the Medical Administrator for Seadrunar Withdrawal Management Services, a nonprofit organization offering medical detoxification for drugs and alcohol abusers.  She is the President of Crossroad Medical Services, a medical consultancy business. 

 

Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Agnes was a Board Member of the Filipino Community of Seattle for more than 10 years and was once the Director of the organization’s Culture and Arts Program.

Emma Catague, Program Supervisor/City of Seattle Consultant – ACCESS

Emma Catague was born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. A survivor of domestic violence, Ms. Catague has 40 years of experience in community and labor organizing, advocating for human rights, and working for social change. She is the founding mother of the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center, now known as API Chaya. Retiring from API Chaya in 2014, she continues to advocate against domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking with the Filipino Community of Seattle. Ms. Catague, along with Velma Veloria, Sutapa Basu, Norma Timbang, organized to pass Washington State's anti-trafficking bill and served on the first Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force that helped set a vision for a comprehensive response to human trafficking in Washington State.

 

She has provided technical assistance nationally and internationally to organizations and community-based groups to address gender-based violence and human trafficking. She helped form the former Trafficking Response Team, a partnership with API Chaya and Refugee Women's Alliance, the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network and helped build collaboration with government and non-government agencies through the Washington Advisory Committee on Trafficking. She has served as a member of the Statewide Coordinating Committee on Sex Trafficking and continues to provide education on both labor trafficking and sex trafficking in the community. 

Ms. Catague currently services as the Project Lead for the City of Seattle's Community Mobilization to End Gender-based Violence Pilot and serves as a co-chair with the Seattle Police Department's Community Police Commission.

Senior Services Team

Jaclyn Samson (She/Her)

Coordinator, Senior Lunch Program

Nelia Diaz (She/Her)

Senior Program Outreach Coordinator

Domingo Basanes

Kitchen Helper, Senior Lunch Program 

Cecilia Cabral (She/Her)

Kitchen Helper, Senior Lunch Program

Leonora Nengasca (She/Her)

Kitchen Helper, Senior Lunch Program 

Lolita Lawson (She/Her)

Senior Lunch Program, Food Bank

Merly Claveraz (She/Her)

Zumba Instructor

Helen Williams (She/Her)

Zumba Instructor

Youth Development Team

Haya Muñoz (She/Siya)

Youth Manager, Innovation Learning Center

Nhoell Inthavong (She/Her)

Youth Program Coordinator

Camille Ungco (She/Her)

Youth Program Outreach & Facilitator Assistant

Thomas Abalahin (He/They)

Youth Staff Associate & FCS Historian

Elizabeth Banh (She/Her)

UCBI Intern from the University of WA 2021 Graduate

Reily Savenetti (She/Her)

UCBI Intern from the University of WA 2022 Graduate

Ania Ty (She/Her)

Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies UC Davis, Asian American Studies Intern from Oregon State University 2022 Graduate

Mari Roy (They/Them)

Youth Program Volunteer University of WA 2023 Graduate

Leilani Lingat Batac (She/Her)

Youth Program Volunteer University of WA 2024 Graduate

Administrative & Operations

Germelyn Pasia

Office Manager & Rental Manager

Teresita Era

Bookkeeper

Kin Man Chan

Custodian

Eva Yiu

Custodian

Contractors

Ana & Larry Simon

Accountant

Juliet Cheatle

Choreographer, FCS Kalahi

Courtney Velasquez

Grant Writers

 
Our Volunteers

We’d like to express our profound gratitude to the following volunteers whose selfish acts helped the Filipino Community of Seattle provide much needed services and programs to  the members of the Filipinx and other communities.

 

Our Programs

Develop. Grow. Succeed.

Get Involved

You Can Make a Difference

Donate

Invest in Your Community

 
Innovation Learning Center is a state-of
Build the Community Plaza With Us!

It's never too late to etch your legacy in stone!

Memorialize loved ones, honor friends and family, or commemorate special occasions by purchasing a personalized, engraved brick. Your brick will be displayed in our new Plaza. These laser-engraved pavers are guaranteed for life, with permanent ink that never wears away. Best of all, your tax deductible contribution will help complete the tenant improvement of the Innovation Learning Center.