(Clockwise from top right) Mary Lohoury; Hannah Divino, Holistic Health Director, Little Manila Rising; Dr. Joyce Javier, webinar moderator; Louella Cabalona, President, FYLPRO; Andre and Jocelyn “Joy” Nicdao; and Melissa Veluz-Abraham.

16 FEBRUARY 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippine Embassy in the United States, in partnership with the Filipino Family Health Initiative, Little Manila Rising, FYLPRO, and Tayo Help Desk, held a webinar entitled “The Power of Positive Parenting in Filipino Families, Helping Our Youth Thrive during COVID-19” on 13 February 2021.

“Even before the pandemic, we have likewise seen incidents of depression and suicide among teenagers, including the Filipino and Filipino-American youth here in the United States. I cannot overemphasize the need to have a platform for our community to talk about these issues and at the same time, provide families with insights, tools, and strategies on how to handle and adapt to such situations,” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez in his video-recorded remarks. 

The webinar drew from the experiences and insights of four (4) Filipino-American parents who are part of the Incredible Years, which is “a series of interlocking, evidence-based programs for parents, children, and teachers, supported by over 30 years of research.” The goal of the Incredible Years program is “to prevent and treat young children’s behavior problems and promote their social, emotional, and academic competence.”

One of the parents who shared their stories is Mary Lohoury, mother to two girls and a School Social Worker for San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and a member of the Filipino Mental Health Initiative in San Francisco. Her ongoing work with her community focuses on eliminating the ongoing concerns around the high rates of suicidality ideation among Filipinx students in their district.

Melissa Veluz-Abraham, a single mom to two boys, is a student advisor at the UCLA Student Organization Leadership and Engagement Office in Los Angeles, California. As an active community member for over 25 years, she has contributed as a dancer, staff, and instructor for Kayamanan Ng Lahi Philippine Folk Arts and formerly as a board member for FilAm Arts. She discussed the importance of being able to integrate the Filipino parenting methods of the previous generation and the new parenting methods and strategies she learned as an adult in the United States.

Couple Andre and Jocelyn ‘Joy’ Nicdao from California have been nurturing their three daughters using methods taught in Incredible Years and Team Kapwa. As a volunteer at Kayamanan Ng Lahi, an organization teaching grade school children about Philippine and Philippine-American history, people, and culture, Joy continues to be an active parent and leader at her children’s elementary school on top of pursuing her career as a librarian. Andre is a credentialed secondary school teacher as well as a youth ministry coordinator at the St. Bede Catholic Church.

Dr. Joyce Javier of Clinical Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and an attending physician at AltaMed General Pediatrics, moderated the discussion. She is currently studying the use of community and partnered participatory research to decrease mental health stigma and prevent adolescent depression and suicide among Filipino youth by partnering with parents and community stakeholders to implement and evaluate evidence-based parenting interventions.

“What I learned about the Incredible Years is that it treats the parents as experts in their child and allows them to also promote their cultural values. This is important because promoting our cultural values has been shown to increase academic achievement, improve anger control, problem solving, decrease physical aggression, and anxiety,” Dr. Javier said.

Strengthening the connection of Filipino-Americans to their Filipino cultural heritage is central to the mission of Little Manila Rising and the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO). 

Little Manila Rising is a non-profit organization founded to preserve the rich history of Filipinos in Stockton, California. In the 1920s, Stockton was home to one of the largest Filipino communities outside the Philippines but unfortunately was demolished due to gentrification. The organization now focuses its work on environmental justice, mitigation, health, immigration, youth advocacy policy, and mental health. 

The Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) is a network of high-performing, next-generation leaders who advance the Philippines and the Filipino people through their advocacy and expertise in various industries. Established in 2012, through the partnership of the Philippine Embassy and the Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI), the program fosters collaborative multinational relationships between its participants and the Philippines and thus create opportunities for innovations and support the socio-economic progress of the global Filipino community.

FYLPRO’s COVID-19 Task Force developed the Tayo Help Desk that provides vital, trustworthy, and culturally relevant information to help Filipinos navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Tayo’s pilot launch location is Los Angeles, California.“The Power of Positive Parenting in Filipino Families, Helping Our Youth Thrive during COVID-19” may be viewed on the Embassy’s Facebook page.