Nestled on top of the hill in West Haven, Connecticut is the stately mansion of a gracious host. Year after year, this sprawling property has been the site of many gatherings of this Greater New Haven Filipino American Community. Ranging from a simple cookout to the elegance of garden weddings, from the celebration of birth to the memorial of life, the once 6-door garage (now fondly known as “The Clubhouse”) has been called home for the Philippine American Association of Connecticut, Incorporated (PAAC).
The humble beginning of Connecticut’s oldest Filipino cultural community dates to 43 years ago, when a group of young Yale Filipino students and health care professionals came together in search for a “home away from home”. Finding comfort in each other’s company, they in turn attracted and welcomed other Filipino immigrants in Connecticut. Thereafter, they created a refuge for homesick Filipinos, sharing familiar traditions and customs of the Philippines. Today, membership of the PAAC includes experts and skilled individuals of the various trades, industries and fields from all over the state. The Association has matured in profound ways that it no longer exists just as a social club but an instrument in the preservation and proliferation of Philippine culture, tradition and the arts.
For more than three decades now, the PAAC is recognized as a source of the unique and rich tapestry of the Philippine culture. Its Youth Dance Troupe has been its cultural ambassador with performances in schools, universities, town fairs, hospitals and nursing homes in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. It also takes pride in the pool of talents found in its Rondalla and Chorale group that cater to the ethnic diversity needs of the general community.
The Philippine-American Association of Connecticut takes joy in its involvement in the greater Filipino communities and the community at large. Members participate in the annual March of Dimes, volunteer at Special Olympics, Soup Kitchens and more. The PAAC contributes to disaster relief efforts here (e.g. Katrina) and at home. It co-sponsors the annual Simbang Gabi sa Konsulado, and joins in the yearly Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City with members performing a street dancing routine. Its charitable arm extends to those in need in the motherland through its Educational Scholarship Program, a co-sponsored Tulong sa Kapwa 2008 Medical Mission, and Ballroom Lessons for Charity, which benefited the wards of the Sisters of Charity in Tacloban City, Leyte. The PAAC has donated to the Philippine Pediatric Pavilion of Quezon Institute, and to the Philippine Government’s CGMA program, a project to build classrooms in the Philippines. For the past three years, the PAAC has given special attention to Education. It established the Paaralang Pilipino, a summer-long educational instruction of Filipino language, culture and arts. It continues to support the efforts of Camp Mabuhay North, a weekend camp for American families with adopted children from the Philippines.
As time goes on, the PAAC continues to evolve and revolutionize. Taking over is a young generation of leadership filled with vigor and vitality. With its core of active members and the perseverance of its officers, the PAAC will continue to recreate and project the colorful tapestry of the Filipino heritage and be a driving force here and abroad.