Galing Foundation, Inc.

is a non profit 501 (c) 3 tax exempt charitable organization registered in the State of Georgia

GFI assists in providing quality educational resources to underserved public schools, libraries and day care centers.

Monday, January 26, 2015

8th Youth Leadership Nominees, Selection Committee and Filipino American Teachers in Georgia Honorees

Galing Foundation, Inc. in cooperation with the
Philippine Honorary Consulate General in Atlanta
sponsored by 

Drs. Abelardo and Zeny Magat
Ms. Pam Peterman
and by
Dr. & Mrs. Romeo Baccay
Dr. Cecile Bregman
Mr. & Mrs. Francis Cantilang
Ms. Marilyn Doromal
Makabayan GA, Inc.
Mr. James McSweeney
Ms. Didi O'Connor of Harry Norman Realtors
Ms. Eleanor Pascual

announces the 8th Youth Leadership Nominees, members of the selection committee and the Filipino American Teachers in Georgia honorees.

The 2014 Youth Leader Nominees & Essays:

Julia Dorotea Ticsay Lopez
High School Student
Athens, GA
Julia Dorotea Ticsay Lopez is a sophomore at Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School in Athens, Georgia.  She attended St. Joseph Catholic Parish School in Athens, Georgia, was twice its representative to the Archdiocese of Atlanta's Spelling Bee, and was also recipient of the Archdiocese's prestigious Chi Rho award for a graduating 8th grader. 
In high school, Julia is a varsity starter in soccer and basketball, is captain of her 16-and-under Athens United soccer club team, and participates year-round in volleyball, tennis and cross country.  As a well-rounded student, Julia excels in academics while also engaged in student government as president during her freshman year and secretary in her sophomore year. 
The middle of three children, Julia was raised speaking fluent Tagalog and English.  She is the daughter of Sherwin and Josephine Lopez originally from Los Banos, Laguna in the Philippines.  She is active with the Couples for Christ's youth group.  Her interests include playing piano, guitar and clarinet; traveling, reading and cooking.  Julia aspires to one day be a pediatrician, following in her mother's footsteps.
Growing Up Filipino American: A Personal Retrospective
by Julia  Lopez
When taking standardized tests I have always been stumped by the question of ethnicity.  Do I fill in the bubble for "Asian" or "Pacific Islander"?  I am Filipino.  My mom and dad are Filipino.  My brothers are Filipino.  We all are Filipino.  But what do you consider the Philippines?  They are islands in the Pacific, yet these islands are also part of Asia.  Which bubble do I fill in?  Remembering all the times I've asked my proctor, I quickly fill in both.  As time came to pass, I realized that one can't answer the question of what it is to be Filipino with just these two choices.
Being Filipino is something I took a lot of pride in.  When I was younger and classmates in preschool asked, "Where are you from?"  I took joy in saying, "I'm from the Philippines.  It's like more than 7,000 islands in the Pacific!  You probably haven't heard of it..."  Back then, I didn't know that where you were born is different from what  ethnic group you are.  I was born in Georgia, but since I was raised as a Filipino, I distinguished myself as from the Philippines.  I felt like I was different in a sense because of my dark hair and tan skin.  I was my own person.  I thought about how a majority of my classmates were Caucasian and had like features.  They were copies with few differences, while I was separated with my own traits.   
Of course, it wasn't just my features that I noticed were different.  It was my actions, my parents, my faith, even my food that were distinct.  While many kids were eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, I was eating rice and adobo out of a Tupperware.  If my friends were watching TV and Disney channel, I was practicing the piano.  When I went to people's houses, I noticed that some families didn't pray before meals and I would be asked why I didn't start eating yet.  Then after dinner, everyone would just leave.  No family time or anything, just my friend and I sitting there.  Little actions such as these taught me the attributes Filipinos are known for: discipline, faith, and family.
The biggest distinction I had from other was my fluency in Tagalog.  My parents reprimanded my siblings and me when we didn't  speak Tagalog among Filipino friends and family.  When awestruck parents ask how we came to learn Tagalog, my own parents would say they wouldn't feed us if we didn't speak it.  It was always met with laughter.  My friends used to ask me if it was hard learning another language, but I always replied that I didn't know.  Tagalog was taught almost as if was my first language.  Truthfully, it probably was, and I am thankful for it.  Even though there are times where it's frustrating always being corrected because of my lack of complete knowledge, Tagalog has been helpful in various parts of my life.  In kindergarten through 8th grade, I took Spanish classes.  Spanish was a completely new  language for me to learn, yet I was placed in the fluent speaking group since I excelled very quickly.  Why?  Because I was not fluent in Spanish, but rather in Tagalog.  The relationship of Tagalog to Spanish is so close that many Tagalog words were taken from Spanish.  I was able to easily pick up Spanish in school and advance with the "smart kids". 
When we go home to the Philippines, I am able to communicate with my cousins and even make friends with their friends.  My relationship with my lolas and lolos are stronger than most because we can understand each other better speaking in Tagalog.  But my most favorite experience with this native language is probably the surprised and happy look from adults when they hear me speak to them in Tagalog.  It makes me feel as if I could be an example to their kids in keeping the culture and language alive before being displace by English and American culture.
Discipline was a word that I was not very fond of.  Maybe it was the word "Dapa" (Get down!)" especially coming from my dad's lips.  When I was younger, my little brother and I would get in trouble and would usually get a little spanking.  As bad as it sounds, it was the only thing that would teach a child to respect his or her elders.  I admire the Filipino family that knows how to ingrain discipline and respect in their kids.
My family is very religious.  Many Filipinos are naturally Catholic because the Philippines used to be a colony of Spain.  Growing up, my parents put me in Catholic schools.  I attend a small Catholic high school in Athens, GA.  I used to think that I was sent to Catholic school because my parents wanted to shelter me from the real world.  I always thought it was weird that they were keeping me from confronting the world I needed to face eventually anyways.  But I've come to realize that it isn't because that at all.  My parents sent me to Catholic school to keep the faith and to make me want to live a Christian life.  Sending me to a school where we practice my faith showed me how much I love God.  Presently, I lead a group called Couples for Christ Youth.  I've only been in it for a little more than a year, but I feel as if it has really given me a new look on the way I live, the way of Jesus and a life of holiness.
Filipinos are family centered.  We acknowledge our unity as one.  People look at me funny when I say that I eat dinner with my parents and brother together every single day.  Family is one of the most important things in life.  As a Filipino, I think about how we all pray together, eat together, even make fun of each other at times.  Filipinos are known for their idea of family and how much important it is to keep it together as one.  We support and love each other no matter.  Sure my parents don't get to watch all my games or maybe they miss the Home and School Association meeting.  But at the end of the day, the feeling of having everyone together  around the dinner table beats any missed soccer game or bake sale.
Differences in culture could make one either take pride in her ethnicity, or turn always from what her parents taught her.  Growing up immersed in American can draw me to become part of another culture and put my Filipino culture on hold.  But as famous Broadway actress and singer Lea Salonga stated, "It's in your DNA to be Filipino, how can you just turn back on it?"  Being and growing up Filipino, the option of turning away from Filipino doesn't exist.  And in truth, why would I want to turn from it all?  I love being Filipino and will choose to live as one all my life.  As for the culture and morals my parents have taught me, I plan to pass them down to my children.  Even if I were born here in America, it doesn't matter: Ako ay Pilipino.  Ang Pilipino ay ako. 
Lee Wilkes II
High School Student
Stone Mountain, GA
Lee Wilkes II is a senior at Tucker High School, an International Baccalaureate (IB) and upcoming STEM based institution.  The sciences and technology are a key component to the school, having courses that include STEM, Engineering, Video Production, Robotics, and Construction.  The International Baccalaureate program is an international curriculum in which students are taught and tested based on criteria set about by individuals in Geneva, Switzerland.  This organization emphasizes aptitude in Native Language.  Foreign Language, the Sciences, World History, and the Theory of Knowledge-a class that aims to discover the influences of human thought and methods towards becoming a well-rounded thinker.  Lee is pursuing a career in biomedical engineering, hoping to integrate technology to both the human body and neuroscience.
He has been an All-A's student from elementary to tenth grade, becoming an A-B student after enrolling into the IB program in 11th grade.  Lee is currently enrolled in not only the IB program, but also in Advanced Placement for Calculus.  He has been awarded the President's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence, as well as the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit.  Lee is currently a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club, having a GPA of 4.19.  He was a member of the VEX Robotics team in high school from 9th grade to 11th grade, only to then be separated from orchestra due to his preparation for a path in the sciences.
In addition, Lee is an avid volunteer for his church, assisting in managing the Audio/Visual department for worship services, as well as playing music for nursing homes with his church youth group.  He is also a member of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that is dedicated to help build affordable homes for the community. 
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."  Lee believes in this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. that is necessary for to always express love to others.  In doing, he has focused his life towards helping as many people that he can, to spread kindness to the world, one person at a time.  Through this, he hopes that the world will become accepting of others, and that everyone shall acknowledge each other's differences so that we may all live with respect and dignity.
Growing up as a Filipino-American: A personal Retrospective
by Lee Wilkes II
Growing up as a Filipino-American is just like growing up in any other household-except when you realize that your household was a bit different from the rest.  There were some similarities: a love of food, a love of dance (is trying not to get your ankles crushed by sticks considered dancing?), a love of music, and this strange obsession of sports celebrities-like Pacquiao and Shaq...wait, the last one was just for Filipinos.....
I'm foreign and domestic, Black and Asian, and all of it was confusing when I was growing up.  I would find instances where things didn't make sense: my friends didn't take off their shoes when going into a house, they didn't eat rice with their meals, and they definitely didn't sing karaoke at parties.  But, looking back, I find that being a Filipino-American to be a wonderful thing, because we are all just one big family.
Even currently living far away from relatives, I am still reminded of them almost everyday-my mom's laughter echoing throughout the house by some joke that her sister had said.  We visit them often, having to gravel across the country, but I always look forward to it.  Besides having to remember the countless names that go with each face, I am always overwhelmed at how much time is spent with family being  together.  Taking away the absurd amount of food that is made and eaten in the span of a day and the endless ripple of laughter that comes whenever we are together, the best part of it all is the fact that the family is so close.  We talk to each other, we tease each other, and we make sure that everyone has a shoulder if they need to cry.  We support one another, not because we are family, but because we are all each other's best friends.
What's better than this is that this sense of family is extended to those we don't even. know.  We are united by our heritage, and as of such we feel obligated to have open arms to anyone who is willing to let us in.  We welcome in neighbors into our family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers are brought into the feeling of camaraderie and treated as if they were our own.  This is what I love about being Filipino; the fact that we as a people love to love.  We are compassionate, we are joyful, we are helpers, and we are partiers.  We are all family, and we have this sense of duty to make sure that the family grows.
It is now that I have realized the blessings that I have had to be a Filipino-American, a person who is foreign and domestic, Black and Yellow, Asian and Pacific-Islander.  I am a mix of great people, great heritage, and a lover of all things.  I am blessed.  I am honored.  Above all I am proud to say that I am Filipino and American.

Irene Bhuiyan
Middle School Student
North GA
Irene Bhuiyan is the youngest in the family; she grew up in suburb of north Georgia.  She was always mature but very funny and playful with everyone around her. 
Growing up as a kid, she started playing soccer at age 4, and made many friends who are still in her life.  She has a calm, caring and respectful personality.  Irene's pre-k teacher once said that she was special for she had the patience and the unique ability to connect with kids with special needs. 
Irene has maintained high academic standard over the years, made to principal's list and earned many achievements.  She understand the importance of preparation and hard work to achieve her goals.  She has taken many leadership roles in Girl Scout activities, participating in charity events and raises money for great causes.
Her upbringing with hard working parents gave her the motivation and determination to do things in a meaningful way.  She is a courageous and compassionate individual.  She's always willing to help the poor and to make a difference in people's life.  

Growing Up Filipino – American: A Personal Retrospective
by Irene Bhuiyan
Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I was different, I was special. I knew I was destined for greatness. With the help of my parents, I have gained not only physically, but mentally. I learned to my fullest potential, and continue to until I have mastered everything. I am ready to help not only those of my community, but the whole world. Going to several different Filipino events, I learned more about my culture, and more about the Filipino people. Because of these events, I am aware of those who live differently, better or worse. I can use my knowledge to assist those in need. Not everyone has a perfect life, and I want to help them achieve one. If I can help the citizens, they will be able to do incredible things. Everyone is capable of doing what they choose, so long as they believe in themselves and push through any obstacles blocking them from achieving their dreams. A single push to do something you’re not comfortable with can be the line between failing and becoming something great, and I am willing to give that push. Just because I’m young, doesn’t mean I can’t do what believe in. Age is not a matter when it comes to your dreams. Of course you can’t achieve your goals without help. As I get older, I will be able to work with even more people to help them achieve their goals, or even them to help me. Whether it is a small little goal that will take a few days, to a huge goal that takes months, there’s always someone willing to help, including me. Not only can I help those wanting to achieve a goal, I can help those with problems they are unable to solve themselves. Two brains are always better than one, and I am willing to be the other brain, helping those who require help.
The Youth Leadership Award Selection Committee Members:

Cassandra M. Ammons
A native of Atlanta, Georgia.  She is the American Sign Language (ASL) Instructor and one of the Basic Computer Instructors at Clayton State University, Career and Professional Continuing Education.  She graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a BA in Accounting and received her Certification in the ASL Immersion Training Program for Interpreters from Floyd College.
After working in the private and non-profit sectors as an accountant, Cassandra discovered her passion for helping other while working with children at The Atlanta Area School for the Deaf.  Later, she was able to combine her love of signing and computers as an instructor for deaf, blind and deaf-blind adults at the Georgia Resource Center.
Cassandra finds gratification in taking her students on a journey through any subject.  Watching them grasp the information, complete the course feeling confident, and wanting to continue the learning experience.  She feels that teaching is a gift that has been given to her.  At the beginning of every new course she shares. "My gift is teaching.  This gift isn't a gift unless I share it with you.  Anything I know, I will freely gift to you." - C. Ammons
Eleanor Mae Pascual
Eleanor Mae Pascual is employed as a paralegal with the Corporate Law Department of State Farm Insurance Companies.  A resident of Atlanta since 1979, Eleanor  is an active volunteer in the Asian American community, currently serving as president of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia (PACCGA).  She has also served previously as president of the Filipino American Association of Greater Atlanta. Her other involvements include serving on the Executive Board of the Asian Pacific American Council of Georgia, board member of the Philippine American Center of Georgia, Community Affairs Director of Makabayan Georgia, Inc.,  Corporate Advisory Board Member of the WWAAC Alliance Foundation, and Steering Committee member of the Georgia Asian Pacific Islander Community Coalition (GAAPICC). She is a musician by avocation, serving as music director and organist/pianist at Clarkston International Bible Church, a multi-ethnic congregation located in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in DeKalb County.  Eleanor is married to Alex Pascual, a structural engineer.  They have three grown children and nine grandchildren.

Dr. Raquel Rimpola
 Marietta City Schools
Dr. Raquel Rimpola in as education veteran for 20 years.  She taught secondary mathematics in Manila, Philippines and Atlanta, Georgia.  She served as a district instructional coach and elementary school principal in Atlanta Public Schools.  She currently serves as a Director of Accountability for Marietta City Schools.  She is passionate about educating students and remains committed to the teaching profession by serving as professor-mentor to aspiring teachers at Kennesaw State University.  Dr. Rimpola is married to Rizalito Avino and they have 5 children. 
The Filipino American Teachers in Georgia Honorees:
Ressurrection "Chiqui" M. Artley
Gainsville High School
"Chiqui" has been teaching int eh US for the past 20 years.  She is a certified Social Science teacher and is an ESOL endorsed.  She taught in the Philippines for 13 years.  At St. Scholastica's College in Manila she taught Philippine History/World History for 10 years. 
Before leaving the Philippines she was a teacher at the Philippine Military Academy and was teaching International Relations and Public Administration.  Due to her knowledge of Spanish language, she officially became and ESOL teacher, teaching in elementary, middle school and high school.  

Dr. Joel Aquino

Hall County Schools/University of North GA/Piedmont College

Joel teaches the cross-disciplines of Physics, Physical Science, Earth Systems and Geology in high school, college and graduate level programs. His professional background includes a combined 33 years of teaching, research and mineral industry experiences that span across several nations (Philippines, United States, Australia, Germany Indochina and Japan). As an educator, he holds several science teaching certifications that include gifted-in-field and ESOL endorsements. Currently his teaching methods are mostly centered in project-based learning and flipped classrooms. Joel has been the recipient of several local, state and national teaching awards and professional travel grants. Thus his entire career evolved from "Explorer of Mines to Explorer of Minds".

Joy Isabelle Arellano James
Simonton Elementary School
The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives. - Robert Maynard Hutchins.
She was born and raised in the Philippines where she graduated from Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Psychology.  She always wanted to work with people.  Little did she know that her true calling was to teach "young people".  The Jesuit Education value of "embracing the challenge to make a positive difference" compelled her to lead her organization in serving underprivileged school children in Balara by tutoring them every Saturday morning.  After college, she discovered that teaching gave her more satisfaction than any other career so she pursued classes to help her become better equipped educator.
After teaching Kindergarten for five years at the Ateneo Grade School, she opted to apply for a teaching post in the US.  She was fortunate to be chosen among the thousands of applicants all over the world as one of the Visiting International Faculty in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  In 2003, her initial assignment was to teach for just three short years.  "But here I am; still serving the diverse education, social and emotional needs of the children in Georgia as a First Grade Teacher.  I have been with Gwinnet County Public School System for nearly 11 years." - J. James
In 2006, she met Jeff and not long after, they married.  Today, Joy and Jeff have two children: Jeremiah (7) and Jaidah (3). 
She wanted to stay-up-to-date with the current trends in education so she took her Masters in Reading and Literacy from Walden University in 2010 and her Specialist Degree Major in Leadership and Brain Smart from Nova Southern University in 2013.  During the course of her education, she endured many obstacles.  With hard work and persistence, her students kept her inspired to do more so she received her Certification in ESOL and Gifted.  She wanted to serve as a role model to her own students encouraging them to continue to learn everyday. 
Hands-on learning discoveries, varied learning experiences, personal responsibility, and a love of learning are at the forefront in her classroom.  Her goal is to develop independent learners who have a love of learning and are truly life-long learners.  She believes that all children can learn, and that she is there to help them become the best that they can be!
In fall of 2014, she was nominated as one of the candidates for Teacher of the Year Award at Simonton Elementary School.  The hard work, dedication and her passion for teaching and learning were recognized by her colleagues and administrators.  Aside from being a First Grade Teacher, she also serve as First Grade Leader/liaison, serving her team as well as the Administrative team.  "I love my work and I enjoy watching my students as they blossom into the future leaders of our society." -J. James

Menchu Lim

Forest Park High School


Menchu has been a teacher for 25 years now and do not know where  she would  be other than teaching. Her 5 years of teaching as an ESOL Instructor at ICMC ( International Catholic Migration Commission) funded by United Nation was a defining moment for her.  She knows then that God has called her to teach. She was also a college professor at Philippine School of Business Administration (PSBA) where I earned her Master’s degree. Her two years of teaching at Christian schools both in San Jose, California and Atlanta Georgia have prepared her to become the teacher she is today.  She is currently teaching at Forest Park High school, Clayton County Public School for almost 11 years. "God has blessed me with opportunities to inspire young people go to college, achieve their dreams and succeed. At the end of the day, I find my job rewarding knowing that I have served my purpose in life. I am an educator and I teach to inspire." - M. Lim

Virgilio Lim


Virgilio has been teaching for 30 year now both in the Philippines and in the U.S.  He has taught students from elementary, middle school and high school  He has varied experiences teaching in private, public, Christian, International schools and adult education as well.  "I am an educator and I am called to teach. " - V. Lim


Gladys Piamonte-Piper
Lakeview Academy
After completing a degree in Biology and while pursuing masters at Ateneo de Davao University, she taught Chemistry for a year at a high school in Davao City in 2001. A year later, she moved to a nursing school and taught Microbiology to college students for almost three years . In 2005, Naples, FL became her home; she taught Science at Barron Collier High School. Fall of 2006 opened an opportunity for her to teach Biology and Chemistry to high school students at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA. One of the highlights of her teaching career was receiving the STAR Teacher award in 2010; the recognition allowed her to attend the STAR Teacher Leadership training a year later. After working 5 years at an all-girls school (Brenau), she took a break from teaching and spent time with her then one-year old tot.  She returned to her career teaching Biology and AP Environmental Science in 2013 at Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, GA. On the side, she tutors Biology and Chemistry to middle and high school students.

Dr. Raquel Rimpola
Marietta City Schools
(see Selection Committee Member bio)

Marissa Rondina
Rutland High School
Marissa served as a teacher for a year (2002-03) at Sisters of Mary Girlstown School in Talisay City, Cebu and for four years (2003-07) at Royal Oaks International School in Mandaue City, Cebu.  Since 2007 she has been a teacher of Physics and Biology at Rutland High School in Macon City, GA.  She graduated from Cebu Normal University in 2002. 

Toni Samuelu
Shallowford Falls Elementary School
As a little girl, Toni loved to read, learn and sing, and she considers herself very blessed to have a job where she can share those activities with children every day.  In 2006, she graduated Summa Cum Laude form the University of Georgia and later obrtained a Masters degree from  Kennesaw State.  In 2013, she earned a Gifted Endosement to add to the teaching certificate.  She is passionate about learning and strives to apply best practices in her classroom to meet all student's needs.
While also raising two young children of her own, Toni's goal is to insprire future leaders to be virtuous, compassionate, confident, persevering, and creative!  In other words, she strives to help all sttdents become their BEST selves and to instill a life-long love of learning.  She works hard alongside other parents to guide and inspire children to become respectful, responsible and resourceful.  
Maria Vandermey
Campbell High School
Maria started her teaching career in the Philippines in 1997.  She taught Home Economics at Mandaluyong Science High School.  In 2002, she was hired by United Independent School District to teach Home Economics at Antonio Middle School in Laredo, TX.  She moved to Georgia in 2005 when Cobb County hired her to teach Family Consumer Science at Campbell HS.  She is currently teaching Social Studies and Special Education at CHS.  In 2014 and 2013 she received the "Teacher of the Year Award".
The Awards Ceremony
The Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 6-9pm at Canton House Restaurant (located at 4825 Buford Hwy. Chamblee, GA 30341).  For reservation or information, please contact Ana Blackburn GFI Program Director (404) 925-2639 or email:  Please click here to visit the event page on Facebook. 


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