Philippine Nationality Room Project In Crisis
FAAP's Perspective and Response
In the year 2000, the Samahang Pilipino ng Pittsburgh (SPNP) and its successor organization, the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh (FAAP), was approved by the University of Pittsburgh (PITT) to build a Philippine Nationality Room (PNR) at the Cathedral of Learning. For over 10 years the FAAP worked tirelessly to make plans and raise funds necessary for the room’s completion, working hand in hand with the Nationality Rooms Office with no problems whatsoever.
On June 8, 2012, the FAAP was notified by PITT, through a letter from Mr. Lawrence Feick, Director of the University Center for International Studies under which the Nationality Rooms and Intercultural Exchange Programs (NRIEP) operates, that the PNR project was going to be terminated. PITT cited three reasons for the termination:
- That the FAAP is NOT the owner of the PNR project, and it asserts that the PNR project is co-sponsored by other organizations, such as, the Philippine American Medical Society of Western Pennsylvania (PAMS).
- That they received numerous letters threatening demands for the return of donations by such entities as PAMS should PITT recognize the FAAP's authority over the PNR Committee (PNRC)
- That the FAAP violated NRIEP guidelines related to the building of a nationality room.
The FAAP strongly objects to these assertions. We believe that this crisis was caused by disgruntled PNRC members who claim that Warren Bulseco was ousted first as chair of the PNRC and later as Architect of Record. This very same group, some of them past FAAP presidents, promoted the notion that the PNRC was an independent committee over which the FAAP had no control.
We have no other choice now but to present the FAAP’s side of the story, providing visitors to our website with the documentation to support this narrative. We hope to demonstrate here that PITT’s claims as well as those of the disgruntled members of the PNRC are not only without basis, but that these parties’ actions for over twelve years belie their claims.
During the past two years, while the dissident group was bombarding PITT with its clamor and complaints, the FAAP tried to remain dignified and silent, protective of its membership, believing that its excellent 12-year relationship with PITT would serve them well. We did not want this to be litigated in public nor did we want it to degenerate into accusations and counter accusations for in the end all the parties wanted to see the same result, the installation of a Filipino room at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. Instead, PITT’s administration, who could and should have told these dissidents to settle their problems with FAAP and not bother them with their complaints, sided with them without investigating first if there was a basis for their complaints, and deliberately interfered with an internal matter by writing the FAAP Board to return Warren Bulseco to the PNRC chairmanship. (See Maxine Bruhns' letter to the Board).
As per PITT’s advice, the FAAP Board, represented by its President (Osorio "Jun" Calejesan, Jr.), PNRC chair (Teodora "Teody" Schipper, nominated by Warren Bulseco himself) and the FAAP’s Voice of Wisdom Committee chair (Andres "Andy" Ticzon), met four separate times with Warren Bulseco in a sincere effort to settle the matter amongst themselves. Warren agreed completely with FAAP’s position which Jun Calejesan put into paper. After a few days to review the letter, Warren refused to co-sign what he had verbally agreed to claiming that his earlier agreement was taken out of context. We shall show here that what Warren had agreed to, which he claimed was misunderstood and taken out of context, was actually a position Warren took in many occasions in various emails both to the FAAP board and to the PNRC.
In the end, the sad fact remains that the Filipino community in Pittsburgh is now split and the evidence is the potential failure to complete the Nationality Room. The failure is one that must be shared by the entire Filipino Community in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Try hard as it may, the FAAP could not find any other solution without sacrificing its own integrity, independence and its invaluable sense of that Filipino trait of amor propio (self-worth), as well as ignoring the countless hours, its members and officers spent trying to complete this now shattered dream.
We wish to make this clear. The FAAP will continue to work to complete the PNR project, but only if PITT accepts our three basic principles: