By: Ruben Alvarez | When the founding members of PSCNJ, Inc. first arrived in the Philadelphia area in the early 60s, they started hearing about the long ambition of the Filipino community in the Delaware Valley region to have its own center. But years passed and the ambition just remained a dream. These foundling members who were in their late twenties and middle thirties, armed with the enthusiasm and ambition of youth, decided that if the ambition must become a reality they themselves must take the leadership. They had a meeting in 1986 and the Philippine Community of Southern New Jersey, Incorporated was born.
The organization has since then been commonly referred to as “PC”. Upon its formation, PC immediately embarked on a challenging agenda to make itself known, gain credibility and respectability and ultimately win the needed support of the Filipino Community. After writing its constitution and bylaws with clear provisions as to who can be voting members and leaders it was assured that whoever joins PC will be informed and committed to its goals of acquiring and maintaining a center with strict adherence to the set principles on how business must be conducted. Then the organization undertook challenging and exhausting cultural, and while simultaneously conducting various fundraising activities to raise their treasury for the acquisition of the center. There were debutante balls, legally sanctioned raffles, caroling engagements and presentations of various from the Philippine entertainment world.
On the strength of its educational and the cultural programs a status was granted by the State of New Jersey to the organization in 1992. However, gaining the full support of the Filipino community as a whole proved to be a great deal more challenging. Harsh criticisms were often raised by some highly visible Filipinos and at one time the community was so divided and so discouraging to PC members. But PC’s humility, honesty, dedication, perseverance, positive attitude and hard work eventually prevailed in uniting the Filipinos behind its missions. With the support of the various Filipino organizations and civic minded private individuals a dilapidated vacated Produce Junction store was purchased in 2001. The members themselves, under the supervision of another member who happens to be a highly respected architect, in the true spirit of “bayahihan” rehabilitated the building with their own hands into its present condition. The organization’s educational, cultural and scholarship programs have been sustained and even expanded. The organization has since included charitable and senior citizen programs.
A Filipiniana Library has been established. PC also continues to support various worthy causes not only for the benefit of the Filipinos in the USA but also of the Filipinos back in the Philippines. In 2010 the of the building was fully satisfied. It now gets the needed finances to maintain the center from the rental of the two sides of the , from fees paid by those who rent the center for various affairs as well as from some periodic fundraising activities. It gives great satisfaction to PC in seeing how the center has been meeting many of the needs of the community. But it is ever mindful of the fact that the Center can only be sustained with the continued support of the Filipinos and their friends and the willingness of today’s youth to take over the leadership when the aging original members are all gone. Presently, it is so encouraging to see some members of the youth group now taking elected positions as adults. This is a trend that PC most certainly welcomes.
PC however is also very aware that although it is able to respond to many of the needs of the Filipino community it cannot respond to ALL the needs. More service oriented programs must be initiated, supported and maintained. The center can be a rallying point of the Filipino community. The members believe that working cooperatively and speaking in a strong united voice with all the Filipinos in the region the community is destined to accomplish even greater things.