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Written by 2006 Daily News Article by Johan Mengesha, Valley News Writer   
Monday, 13 July 2009 00:00

In December 2001, Leo A. Maranan, Rick Rolda and Joe Arciaga founded the San Fernando Valley Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce to unite the Filipino business community in the Valley.

The plan was to bring together all the Filipino-American business people in the area and create an environment where their enterprises could flourish.

``We have seen, especially in the areas of Panorama City and Van Nuys, that there are a lot of Filipino businesses,'' said Rolda of West Hills, second vice president of the chamber. ``We have approximately 49,000 Filipinos in the San Fernando Valley, and that's a good number of people.''

From L-R: Joe Arciaga, Rick Rolda & Leo Maranan
Original Founders of the San Fernando Valley Filipino American Chamber of Commerce (SFVFACC)
Photo courtesy of Joe Arciaga
There are five things the Filipino chamber wants to offer its community, said Noel S. V. Omega of Panorama City, the chamber's president. It wants to give the Filipino-American business owners a voice, be a resource for them, promote honesty and integrity within their business community, provide Filipino-American buying power and offer the skills and knowledge of the chamber to the mainstream community.

The Filipino chamber currently has 75 members and more waiting to join, said Rolda. The membership process is lengthy, however. First, the prospective member is invited to attend two or three meetings to see if it is an organization they are willing to get involved with. Participating can be time-consuming, Rolda said.

``If time would be a problem for them, then maybe this is not the organization they want (to be a part of),'' he said.

If the person is still interested in joining after attending the meetings, there is a 90-day probation period to see if it is a good fit for both parties.

``One of the main things we are looking for when somebody wants to become a member of the organization is to see if they have integrity and credibility in the community,'' Rolda said.

The chamber does a lot of work in the community and occasionally in the Philippines. On the first and third Sundays of every month, chamber members go to the Sun Valley Foursquare Church and help serve food to the less fortunate. They also help Filipino families who are going through tough financial times.

In September, Rolda will be going to the Philippines to set up relationships with other Filipino chambers of commerce and do charity work for some schools.

Some scholarships for business students in the Valley are also in the plans for the near future, said Omega.

On Sept. 10, the Filipino chamber will hold a summer ballroom dancing contest at the Glendale Civic Auditorium; some of the proceeds will go to charity. Ballroom dancing is a popular activity among Filipino women, Omega said.

``Like most men in any culture, we are not really all dancers, but our women, boy, do they love to dance,'' he said. ``It's their No. 1 sport.''

A Christmas festival in Panorama City is also scheduled for December, but no date has been set.

``Christmas is our favorite time of the year,'' said Omega. ``We want to (show) the mainstream community what Filipino Christmas is.''

The chamber has been a helpful organization for Filipino-Americans in the Valley and has some new projects planned for the future that will help further its success.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 July 2009 05:22 )