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33rd Candle for Okinawa’s Oldest Filipino Association

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-10-30

Okinawa’s largest Filipino association, known as the Filipino Community in the Ryukyu Islands (FILCOMRI), celebrated its 33rd anniversary on last Saturday, October 16th.

FILCOMRI is a non-profit organization that brings together Filipinos, Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Japanese. It was founded in 1966 by the late Simon Melecio, Sr. to meet the needs of the Filipinos and to enhance interrelations among Filipinos, Americans and the local community of the Ryukyu islands at that time.

FILCOMRI took its first step with only 74 founding members, including young Filipinos who were employed at the U.S. Military as drivers. At one time, the organization even served as a liaison office for the Philippines Embassy in Tokyo. During the past three decades, the Ryukyu Islands became Okinawa Prefecture; yet "Ryukyu" in the organization’s name was retained as a reminder of the efforts and commitment of members in the early days of the association.

At the anniversary party, approximately 250 people gathered at Butler Plaza Officers' Club to share and celebrate more than three decades of tradition.

"FILCOMRI was resilient with the changes of time.” Hiromi C. Garcia, the FILCOMRI president for 1999, told members. “Your presence here boosts our spirits to continue on what we unselfishly intend to do.” She addressed her fellow Filipinos, looking back at the association’s footsteps with satisfation.

Membership of the organization has swelled to 300, and its activities have intensified. The 33-year-old association focuses on activities that help the local community as well as Filipinos on the island, such as community service to Ginowan City, support for both Filipino and American students through the award of scholarships, and contributions to Amerasian children.

FILCOMRI is inviting new members to join the association. Those who wish to be regular members should be 18 years and above; they should be ethnic Filipinos or citizens of the Philippines, or have an ethnic Filipino spouse. Besides regular memberships, there are three other types of membership: Non-resident, Honorary and Charter; this last category is for the original members of the association.

If you wish to become a FILCOMRI member, please contact the president, Hiromi C. Garcia or her secretary, Oyee Mendoza, at 634-0150 (Duty)or 957-3864 (Home).

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