Philippine Center and flag-raising ceremony
A dream come true for Filipinos in
goes to Ed and Nieva Escall who have been with the Philippine Center from its
infancy chronicling all events for posterity purposes, and Jake and Zen
“With the PCCCF Board and Officers’ help and the cooperation we get from
volunteers and the Filipino-American community, we can hopefully continue
what we started,” Ramos added. “We need the younger generation to step up
and continue what we have done. We now have the Philippine Center, our flag
waving beside it, successful ongoing programs and grant providers to ensure
funding for the programs – all we need are dedicated leaders to step into our
positions when we decide to give way and just act as advisory members.”
By Heidi M. Pascual
(Photos by Ed Escall)
The Philippine-American community in the Milwaukee area has a lot to be proud of these days.
The many years of hard work and dedication by the founders, leaders and active members of the
Philippine Cultural and Civic Center Foundation, Inc. (PCCCF) have at last achieved the goal of
having a Philippine Center, a community place with programs that benefit not only Filipinos in
Wisconsin, but the larger community of all colors and creeds. In addition, the recent flag-raising
ceremony on September 27th that put the Philippine flag waving beside the U.S. flag in front of
the Philippine Center signified the strength of the ties that bind Filipinos and Americans in the
state of Wisconsin.
“The event is in commemoration of the partnership between the Milwaukee County Parks and the
Philippine Center signed on July 29, 2011 by Sue Black, Milwaukee County Parks Executive
Director and myself,“ said Architect Gerry Ramos, executive director of the Philippine Cultural &
Civic Center Foundation. The partnership agreement gave PCCCF a 35-year lease for the use of
areas at the Zablocki Pavilion to house the Philippine Center.
It will be recalled that the Philippine Center became a reality only after the Milwaukee County
Board of Supervisors and the City of Greenfield approved the PCCCF’s proposal to retrofit the
|The Philippine flag alongside the
American flag was raised in front
of the Philippine Center in
Greenfield, Wisconsin on
Zablocki Pavilion (located at 3717 W Howard Ave., Greenfield, Wis.) to house the Center. Through Bayanihan (self-help) of Filipinos
and volunteers and the generosity of grant donors, the center was born in 2011. Ramos was extremely grateful for the initial sizeable
grants from Greater Milwaukee Foundation in the amounts of $35,000 in 2008 and $20,000 in 2009, which jumpstarted the project. He
also mentioned the continuing grants and support from others, including the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation which gave
PCCCF this year $20,000 for the Free Medical Clinic, $6,000 to the annual PCCCF Health fair and $10,000 to jumpstart the Children’s
Workshop and Literacy Program (CWLP).
The signing of the agreement to lease
part of Zablocki Pavilion to house the
Philippine Center by Sue Black, then
Milwaukee County Parks Executive
Director and Architect Gerry Ramos,
executive director of the Philippine
Cultural & Civic Center Foundation, Inc.
In addition to big and small donations (in money and in-kind), fund-raising activities held by
PCCCF generated much needed funds for the Center’s construction and programs. It is not
an understatement to add that Center volunteers literally donated hundreds if not thousands
of volunteer time and money to make the Philippine Center a reality. Ramos himself
prepared the plans for the project pro bono and led the implementation of the plans from
start to finish.
The need for a spacious Philippine Center has been PCCCF’s goal since inception
because of the growing clientele of the Free Medical Clinic (FMC), which has been PCCCF’s
major program. Headed by multi-awarded community leader Dr. Violeta Singson, the Free
Medical Clinic has been serving thousands of patients who are either without health
insurance or too poor to afford simple medical procedures and treatment for several years
now. The Free Medical Clinic, which is held twice a month, occupies the lower level of the
Philippine Center. And when not in use by FMC, planned activities such as exercise
programs, ballroom and folk dancing, and martial arts training are held in the open area at
the lower level of the pavilion. The upper level of the building features a dedicated space for
the Philippine Center’s reception, library, meetings, and other activities.
Ramos, in a column written in Bulalakaw Newsletter, in addition to his email to this writer
recently, wrote that the Philippine Center will continue to do the following programs in
addition to the popular Free Medical Clinic:
*Annual Health Fair—free screenings for various diseases.
*Consulate on Wheels at the Philippine Center-Ramos is coordinating with Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim of the Philippine
Consulate in Chicago on the schedule of consular services at our Philippine Center.
*Philippine Center Computer Classes (Registration ongoing)-The Marquette Bayanihan Student Organization members have provided
computer training at the Philippine Center since 2010. Classes resumed on June 11, 2011, and is held every 2nd and 4th Saturday of
*Philippine Center Tagalog Language Classes ( Registration Ongoing)- Tagalog Lessons with B. Jocelyn “Jojo” Agoncillo Ramos as
instructor started November 12, 2011 from 12:30 to 1:30 PM at the Philippine Center. Contact Jojo : (414) 423-0901 or email : diwa@wi.
* Munting Tinig Choir--Ms. Jojo Ramos, PCCCF Executive Secretary and Activities Director, also directs and conducts the PCCCF
Munting Tinig Choir, which she also helped organize with Dr. Violeta Singson.
* Children’s Workshop and Literacy Program(CWLP)--founded by Ms. Jojo Ramos, has been giving away free brand new books to
children, encouraging reading, and discussions. Even small kids have been observed to start and enjoy doing it. Books given out are
for toddlers up to teens, and the children come back for book exchange and discussions.
The Philippine Center is a testament to the
Filipinos' hardwork, love of community, and desire
to serve others.
The September 27 flag-raising ceremony at the Philippine Center was therefore a
milestone in the history of PCCCF and the Philippine Center. American Legion
Post 416 Commander Tim Baranzyk handed over the U.S. flag to Milwaukee
County Parks Director John Dargle, while Firing Squad Captain Bob Zolandz
presented the Philippine Flag to PCCCF Executive Director Gerry Ramos, and
thereafter, the flags were unfurled by representatives from the Milwaukee County
Parks and the PCCCF, assisted by guardians of the Center. Then, both the
Philippine flag and the American flag were hoisted on twin flagpoles (a donation
from the Philippine Medical Society/Philippine Medical Association of Wisconsin
Auxiliary), amid the elation, pride, and happiness of the Filipinos and friends who
were present at this very special gathering. The beautiful singing of the national
anthems –Star Spangled
Banner and Lupang
Hinirang – by PCCCF’s
Munting Tinig Choir (Small
Voices) added another
notch in the importance of
the event, because the
choir is composed of small
children who are now
beginning to realize the
beauty of having diverse
cultural backgrounds in the
land of the free.
Thereafter, a 21-gun Salute honored the flags, courtesy of the American Legion Post 416 Firing Squad.
According to Ramos, all the speakers in this event were so proud and very profuse in their congratulations to PCCCF, for what it has
done, especially with the Philippine Center. The speakers, who in one way or another have extended their all-out support to the
PCCCF, the Philippine Center and its programs, included among others, John Dargle, the current director of Milwaukee County Parks,
who replaced Sue Black; Vice Consul Ricarte Abejuela III of the Philippine Consulate in Chicago; Milwaukee County Board Supervisor
John Weishan Jr.; Jim Marks, former Vice President, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and United Way Consultant; Kaye Garcia,
Executive Director of the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation; and Michael Neitzke, Mayor, City of Greenfield, Wisconsin.
The five original incorporators of PCCCF – the late Dr.
Elieser B. Suson, Jose Yamat, Jr., Emraida Kiram, B.
Jocelyn Agoncillo-Ramos, and Romulo Gerardo
Ramos – knew the challenges facing them when they
sought to pursue the dream of building the Philippine
Center. The uncertainty of achieving their mission was
very real. But their persistence and hard work paid off.
With their banner program, the Free Medical Clinic, that
benefited thousands of people through the years,
PCCCF’s popularity became unstoppable. More
programs came into being, and gradually, the plans for
the Philippine Center became a necessity.
And, as the saying goes, the rest was history. The
Ramos couple, Gerry and Jojo, expressed their
gratitude to many people who walked the walk with
them, and continue to do so, for the Philippine Center is
an ongoing, lifetime project of the Filipino community in
|The PCCCF Munting Tinig Choir
“Support from the Filipino-American community heads and leaders of organizations in Milwaukee, Madison and the surrounding areas
have been very much evident in all activities at the Center,” Ms. Jojo Ramos wrote in another email to this writer. “Special mention
|MORE PHOTOS BELOW FROM THE