Juanita Francisco Caccam, Ph.D., Founding President, 1983-1988

My family relocated to San Diego, California in the early part of 1966 when this city was still a sleepy Navy town. The civilian population including native Filipinos was rather small at the time. The existence of a visible Fil-Am community was almost nowhere to be found. My husband, Ronn, started a small business and he came to meet only a handful of Filipinos but most of them were from good old U.P.

I really give a lot of credit to my husband who urged and nudged and frequently reminded me of the need to found a “Club” or “Society” of young Filipinos from the old country. A UP Alumni Association San Diego (UPAASD) was the logical starting point because of its two large institutions in the Philippines, Diliman and Los Banos. The new day for Filipino population expansion sprouted like miracle rice when U.S. immigration laws were relaxed for professionals in 1967 onwards.

“New” Filipinos were coming in droves by land, by air, and of course by boat. FOB’s (fresh off the boat) have arrived. Hot dog, apple pie, and Chevrolet was the fun cry of these “early” new Filipinos. FOB’s they may have been (no offense or derogatory connotation meant here) but most of them were college graduates with a good number from UP. Hot dog and apple pie were okay with them, but the first challenge for them was a job and a car (Chevrolet?).

The community began to really grow significantly from the late sixties and unto the seventies. These new Fil-Ams, mostly professionals considered the “third wave” of Filipino migration to the US (aptly termed “brain drain” in the Philippines), have found their cherished home here and were now more receptive toward being counted “in”, in a new “Society”, their “Club” or an “Alumni Association” they can identify with. They wanted to go up and find their place in the community and this inspired me to found the UPAASD in 1983.

Today, UPAASD is the largest and most active UP Alumni Association in Southern California. It is in the forefront of very active community involvements; civic duty, cultural arts, political and education and City/County affairs. Southern California will see more and more of UPAASD stalwarts. The SD Council of Philippine-American Organizations (COPAO) and the Samahan Filipino-American Performing Arts and Education Center are headed by UPAASD mainstays.

Our UPAASD has hosted the current UP President, Dr. Emerlinda Roman, who was our distinguished guest speaker at our UP Alumni Association in America (UPAAA) General Assembly and Convention held here in October 2005. To appreciate her presence, our Association and UPAAA, through her, gifted our Alma Mater in the amount of $10,000. That should be a huge credit for her – earning P500,000 for our University.

Our Association has over the years been very active and generous in many laudable endeavors: scholarships; improvements of campus facilities, e.g., some of the original dormitories where a few of our current members spent some of their earlier years on campus needed repairs/enhancements. The “Adopt-a-Dorm” program conceived by Dr. Juanita Santos-Nacu had the Molave Dorm a recipient.

The UP Foundation in the Philippines, professorial chairs, the UP Library for new books and new office equipment, among others, have been generously funded with several thousand dollars from us.

In the more recent years, many very active members and leaders with big hearts and willing spirits have come forward to take the helm and answer the Clarion Call:

UP Beloved! Up with the People!