NAFAUM first came into being as a formal organization in 1984 in San Francisco when it was known as the National
Fellowship of Filipino-American United Methodists. Among the decisions on its founding year was for it to hold a national
convocation every two years, beginning in 1987. Convocations were held in San Diego, 1987; St. Simon’s Island, Georgia,
Iowa, 2001; Roselle Park, New Jersey, 2003; Las Vegas, 2005; Virginia Beach, Virginia, 2007; and Dallas, 2009. It was in
1989 however that it adopted its present name: National Association of Filipino American United Methodists. Bit a better
understanding how NAFAUM came into being requires looking into the past and taking a broader view.
The 1960s was a period of social ferment all over the world, the United States was no exception. Racism and civil rights
were among the issues that raged then and everybody, including institutions, like the churches, was affected. Such for
instance was the context of the General Conference of 1968. In addition to formalizing the merger of the two
denominations that became The United Methodist Church, the General Conference also addressed the issue of race. It
created among others, the General Commission on Religion and Race “to challenge and help the denomination’s
agencies, institutions, annual (regional) conferences and congregations to achieve full, equal participation of its racial and
ethnic minority constituencies in the total life and mission of the Church.” One of the products of this endeavor was the
National Federation of Asian-American United Methodists (NFAAUM) which was organized in 1970 and among whose
constituencies were Filipinos. Naturally, in between its plenary sessions, the federation’s various ethnic constituencies
were also holding caucuses of their own. It was out of these caucuses that the National Fellowship of Filipino-American
United Methodists was born during the convocation of the NFAAUM in 1984, particularly notable for the unusually large
number of Filipinos that attended.
It was also in the 1960s, particularly in 1965, that the enactment in the U.S. of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It
allowed, among other things, the immigration of people based on family ties. This benefited many Filipinos and it was after
this law was passed that the rate of immigration to the U.S. from the Philippines became exponential. Of course this has
added to the ranks of The United Methodist Church since many of these Filipino immigrants were United Methodists. This
fact has definitely contributed to making the NAFAUM a logical development.
Without dedicated and visionary leaders, however, even great numbers do not add up to an organization with a purpose.
The following are among those whose names are forever etched in NAFAUM history: Artemio R. Guillermo, Lindy Loresco,
Arturo Capuli, Salvador Capuli, Benoni Silva-Netto, Aquilino ‘Pong’ Javier, Dani and Norma Aguila, Alex Ramos, Stan de
Pano, David Pasamonte, the late James Misajon, Vivencio Vinluan, Leonard Autajay, the late Max and Alice Pena, Juan
Ancheta, Rodrigo Estrada, Tony Ubalde, Luther Jose, Alex Vergara; the late Natty Barranda who rendered valuable
networking tasks, Natty Ngo, Esperanza del Rosario, Alfredo Agtarap, Leo Constantino, and Tony Palaganas.
At the same time there were those who not only rendered valuable service to NAFAUM but also made their mark within the
formal structures of The United Methodist Church in the U.S. like those that have at one time or another been appointed
as District Superintendents like Stanley De Pano and J. Alan Ocampo (Pacific-Northwest Conference), Ruth Ocera-Cortez
(California-Nevada), replacing her is Benoni Silva-Netto after serving as Assistant General Secretary of the General
Council on Ministries (GCOM), Lily Villamin and Adiel De Pano, both of California-Pacific, and Bonifacio Mequi Jr., Marcos
Berbano, Emmanuel Tabelisma, and Bernie Colorado, all four from Iowa; and Julian Miguel in Nebraska. As member of the
Pacific Northwest Annual Conference cabinet, David Valera serves as Conference Director of Connectional Ministries.
More on the clergy, our contributions to the general agencies are Liberato Bautista who continues to serve with dedication
as Assistant General Secretary (AGS) of the General Board of Church and Society, with particular focus on the United
Nations and the recently appointed Executive for New Church Starts at the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD), Bener
Agtarap. Benoni Silvanetto, as mentioned earlier, served as AGS at GCOM until the agency’s dissolution in 2005. Leo
Constantino also served as AGS at GBOPHB; David Rodriguez served as in an executive position in GBGM. Last, but not
least, in the California-Pacific Annual Conference, Romy del Rosario, a missionary teacher under appointment with the
General Board of Global Ministries, has served in Africa, in Jerusalem, Malaysia, the Philippines, and now in Cambodia as
the superintendent of the United Methodist Church mission in that country.
Among the laity, Manuel Espartero was the first Filipino-American to serve as AGS in the General Board of Church and
Society. Jusel Moralde was the second Filipino-American to serve as AGS in the GBOPHB. Prospero Tumonong of the
West Michigan Conference and Pong Javier of the Northern Illinois Conference broke additional record in their respective
annual conferences for being the first laypersons to serve as annual conference treasurer. Pros Tumonong continues to
serve in West Michigan; Pong left the office in 1999. Becky Asedillo, currently serves as Executive Secretary for
Asia/Pacific/Church Relationships at the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). Ruth Prudente, one of our
association pioneers, served as a high ranking staff person at the General Board of Global Ministries’ Woman’s Division,
her daughter Karen Prudente also in an executive position in GBGM later. Edwin Francisco, is currently Associate
Treasurer of GBGM. Inday Day was the Executive Director of NFAAUM based in Oakland, CA until her retirement in 2008.
These, and other appointments beyond the local church but too many for this listing, constitute – along with other positive
developments relative to our growth in stature and influence, gifts of God to God’s people and for which we all give God
National Association of Filipino American United Methodists