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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Philippine Consulate General in New York Holds Third Annual Assembly for Geographic Wardens

New York – The Philippine Consulate in New York held the third Warden’s General Assembly on Saturday, 16 January 2016 at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center.

The Warden’s General Assembly is an annual gathering of community volunteers who have signed up to be part of the Consulate’s Geographic Warden System project. The project was launched in 2013 as a way of tapping Filipino community leaders to serve as point persons or “Wardens” in their locales and be first responders when members of the community are “in distress”, or when the area is threatened or affected by natural or man- made disasters.

Thirty-eight Wardens from the eight states under the Consulate’s jurisdiction showed up to listen to resource persons from the New York Asian Women’s Center, the New York Police Department and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency speak on a variety of topics, including violence against women, police community resources and disaster preparedness during its morning session.

The General Assembly devoted the second part of the program to a short interactive workshop. The participants were organized into regional break-out groups that focused
on exchanging information and views about federal, state, local government and non- governmental resources available in their respective communities to residents in need of information and assistance.

The Wardens pose for a group picture with Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. (center). 

Through its more than three years of existence, the Wardens have proven to be invaluable sources of help, giving aid and providing field reports, especially on high-profile situations like the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy in 2013, as well as the Philadelphia train derailment and Manhattan building collapse in 2015. Aside from on- the-ground reportage on such major events, the Wardens have also provided invaluable assistance in more ordinary but equally important cases in far-flung areas where Filipinos, with no one else to turn to, have sought the help of the Consulate to address their domestic or legal situations.

Towards the end of the day, participants were one in saying that the General Assembly has not only been opportunity to touch base and network with the Consulate and other volunteers, but more importantly a valuable opportunity to increase and enhance their knowledge of the possible issues and cases a typical Warden may encounter. This year’s assembly was especially significant, as the Consulate released it’s Manual on Assistance to Nationals (ATN), a reference booklet containing the procedures and best practices, as well as a community resource guide. The manual was developed to serve as a guideline for Wardens on giving immediate assistance to Filipinos in distress, and is expected to be their primary reference in dealing with the most common ATN issues faced by the Filipino community in the Northeast of the United States. 

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