Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Filipino Ladies Association for Growth (FLAG)
Nowhere is the special role and capacity of women in facilitating cross-cultural understanding more apparent than in the case of the group FLAG (Filipino Ladies Association for Growth).
Composed of the Diplomatic Ladies of the Philippine Consulate General of Dubai & the Northern Emirates, and supported by a select group of prominent Filipina leaders, FLAG was founded by Mme Lu Cimafranca – wife of former Phil Consul General Head Hon. Frank Cimafranca in 2014, and is now lead by Mme Yasmin Balajadia-Cortes wife of current PCG Consul General Hon. Paul Raymund Cortes. Mme. Cortes explains, “FLAG’s main objective is to enhance the role of Filipino ladies in the UAE through active participation in community events. It focuses on women empowerment and the advancement and the promotion of Philippine culture. We hope to raise awareness among the various ethnic communities in the UAE about what the Filipina woman can contribute and achieve in this country’s multicultural landscape.”
Speaking on the special role of women in the community, particularly the contribution that diplomatic spouses bring to the table, Mme Cortes elucidates, “Spouses provide the foundation for diplomats to keep grounded especially when the world of diplomacy and consular issues gets rough. In addition, we complement their work plans most often in socials and cultural events. There are many instances where the informal and back channels work more effectively than the formal and official route and this is where the spouses play a decisive and crucial role.”
Last year, FLAG spearheaded the Terno Ball in the UAE which brought Filipino trailblazers and the diplomatic community together. The group has also provided support to some charity organizations. Continuing on, Mme Cortes shares, “We will be working on the Filipiniana Ball which we hope could showcase the uniqueness of Filipino fashion and highlight the renowned creativity that have produced superb talents like Michael Cinco, Furne One, and Ezra Santos. We also hope to plan more activities in the next couple of months.” She also adds that FLAG will also pursue worthwhile advocacies back home especially those related to disaster relief and support for less-privileged children.
“We are excited to work with everyone here most especially in projects that would uplift the image of the Filipino in the emirates. Rest assured, I will continue playing an active role in ensuring that our women are empowered and confident of what they could contribute in this part of the world,” she concludes.