Filipino Young Leaders Program Signature Immersion Trip Returns After Two Year Hiatus Due to Pandemic

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Leezel Tanglao

December 2, 2022

Filipino Young Leaders Program Signature Immersion Trip Returns After Two Year Hiatus Due to Pandemic 

The Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO) signature immersion program made its return to the Philippines after a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic in late November.

The trip comes as FYLPRO, a joint initiative of the Philippine Embassy, Consulates General in the United States, and the Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI), celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. 

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

The 15-person 2022 cohort includes a five-time Hugo Award winner, an administrative judge, emergency room physician and Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker. They now join 84 FYLPRO alumni who have gone through the immersion program.

The 2022 FYLPRO Delegation included:

  1. Michelle Amor – New York, New York
  2. Grace Arupo Rodriguez – Roseville, California
  3. Joshua De Leon – Long Beach, California
  4. Daniel Galeon – Montvale, New Jersey
  5. Genevieve Jopanda – San Francisco, California
  6. Michele Josue – Glendale, California
  7. Agnes Lopez – Jacksonville, Florida
  8. Angelo Mathay – Raleigh, North Carolina
  9. Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos – Sicklerville, New Jersey
  10. Constancio Paranal III – Honolulu, Hawaii
  11. Melissa (Michi) Trota – Chicago, Illinois
  12. Danicole Ramos – Waialua, Hawaii
  13. Angelico Razon – Pasadena, California
  14. John Victoria – Arlington, Virginia
  15. Neil Wingkun – Houston, Texas

This year’s cohort includes new regions represented with delegates from Raleigh, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. It is the first year the FYLPRO immersion cohort included delegates over the age 40 after the age eligibility was raised to 45.

The delegates traveled to the Philippines the week of November 20-25 for a week-long immersion trip. 

Their immersion trip kicked off with a walking food tour of Binodo and a visit to the Ayala Museum. 

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

The delegates also met with the U.S. Ambassador of the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff in a special reception with Fulbright Philippines and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) alumni.

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

They also heard from speakers from various industries such as health, tech, legal, and business including Roland Ros (co-founder of Kumu), Dexter Ligot-Gordon (co-founder of Swarm), Ellene Sana (Center for Migrant Advocacy), Coco Alcuaz (Executive Director, Makati Business Club), Paul Pajo and Bea Sanchez (Plentina) and Len Cabili (Founder and Creative Director, Filip+Inna).

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

During business day, the Makati Business Club and American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines hosted a special networking luncheon where delegates shared their Filipino American stories. 

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

On government day, the delegates had a courtesy call with Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo, had lunch and meet and greets with former Counsel Generals, traveled to Pasig City to meet with Mayor Vico Sotto and visited the Philippine House of Representatives. 

Photo Credit:  DFA OPCD

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

On community  day the delegates spent time with the farmers at Calauan, Laguna – a partner site of the ayala foundation initiative to implement sustainable livelihood projects.

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

After spending time with the farmers, our delegates spent some time with our media partners GMA Pinoy TV and toured their studios and sets. 


Photo Credit: FYLPRO

Following the tour of GMA studios, our delegates had the chance to spend time with GMA officials including GMA International First Vice President Joseph Jerome T. Francia, director Direk Mark Reyes and journalist Howie Severino at dinner. Severino gave a quick baybayin lesson to the delegates. 

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

On the last day of the program, the delegates met with their mentor and had a courtesy call with the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez right before they wrapped up their trip with closing ceremonies.

Photo Credit: FYLPRO

For a look at this year’s immersion program, view this video edited by 2022 Emmy Award Winning Director Michele Josue:

This year’s trip marks the next evolution of the immersion program as FYLPRO works to illiterate and add more elements to the program’s offering to bridge, represent and discover.

“While the delegates only had only one week, it was filled with transformation moments that will last a lifetime,” said 2022 FYLPRO President Leezel Tanglao. “I look forward to seeing all the collaborations and great things to emerge from the delegation as this is only the beginning of their journeys to connect deeper to the community throughout the diaspora.

FYLPRO was established in 2012 by Former Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the United States of America, Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Mrs. Victoria J. Cuisia in cooperation with the Ayala Foundation Inc. (AFI) to annually identify outstanding young professionals in the Filipino communities across the United States and provide the delegates with invaluable community, business, and government insights and access to distinguished network captains of industry and government.

About Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO)

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. 

We continually expand the pipeline of Filipino young leaders in the diaspora.  By connecting them to the motherland, we foster collaborative multinational  relationships that create innovations and support the socio-economic progress of the global Filipino community.

For more information, visit

About the Ayala Foundation, Inc.

As the social development arm of the Ayala group of companies, Ayala Foundation envisions communities where people are creative, productive, self-reliant, and proud to be Filipino. Ayala Foundation is committed to community development, working closely with communities in identifying compelling developmental needs and providing suitable solutions with measurable outcomes. It implements programs under the following themes: Education, Sustainable Livelihood, and Love of Country.  

About the Philippine Embassy in the United States

The Philippine Embassy’s mission is to promote and protect Philippine interests in the global community. Republic Act No. 7157, otherwise known as “Philippine Foreign Service Act of 1991”, gives mandate to the Department of Foreign Affairs to implement the three (3) pillars of the Philippine Foreign Policy, as follows:

  • Preservation and enhancement of national security
  • Promotion and attainment of economic security
  • Protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas.




See below for delegate’s short bios

2022 Immersion Delegates

Michelle Amor joined Lev, a digital commercial real estate fintech startup, in 2021 to help launch the firm’s new direct-lending business. Now, she is a Manager within Lev’s strategy and innovation team, Lev Labs. Prior to Lev, Michelle worked as a Fixed Income Credit Trader at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and has held previous roles at firms including J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Balyasny Asset Management. Michelle has been on the board of the Filipino American National Historical Society’s Metropolitan New York Chapter for four years, She currently serves as Treasurer and was previously the Chair of Communications. She also currently serves as Treasurer of the National Federation of Filipino American Association’s New York State Chapter. In addition, she works for Steven Raga’s campaign for New York State Assembly, District 30. Michelle received her BA in Financial Economics at Columbia University in 2019. At Columbia, Michelle served as the President of Liga Filipina (2018) and the Social-Cultural Chair (2017). Prior to college, Michelle danced with American Repertory Ballet, Arch Contemporary Ballet, and the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts.

Grace Arupo Rodriguez serves as the Assistant Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which is the umbrella entity that administers more than 3.4 million California licenses in more than 280 license types from accountants, architects, boxers, engineers, dentists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists to veterinarians.  Grace served as the first Deputy Director of Legal Affairs in the then-newly created Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development from 2013 to 2017 and was instrumental in re-structuring various tax credit incentives for California, including the Film Tax Credit and the California Competes Tax Credit (formerly the Enterprise zones). She also assisted with the implementation of the Office of Travel and Tourism’s expanded tourism assessment fee.  Grace previously served as the Senior Deputy Counsel in the Sacramento City Attorney’s Office from 2012 to 2013, working on bond financing of public works projects. As another first, Grace was the first Corporate Counsel for the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) from 2007 to 2012 (the California ISO is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage, long-distance power lines for the grid serving 80 percent of California and a small part of Nevada). Grace began her professional career as a transactional attorney at Downey Brand LLP, Sacramento’s largest regional law firm. 

Josh De Leon is an organizational changemaker, local political leader, and community organizer, currently based in Southern California. As a senior consultant for a diversity, equity, and inclusion firm, he collaborates with major companies to assess and transform their culture and processes. He was elected as an assembly district delegate representing his hometown to the statewide party; becoming one of the first Filipinos in the district to ever hold that role, and has deep ties to grassroots activism in the area. He serves on the board of FilExcellence, with a mission to support, empower, and elevate the Filipino/a/xs globally, as well as the nonprofit Rising Organizers. Josh previously has worked in or alongside NGOs, government agencies, private companies, and education programs, and will bring that interdisciplinary and multisectoral background to FYLPRO. He holds a master’s degree from Stanford University.

Daniel Galeon IV currently resides in New Jersey with his wife Christine and their 3 children – Daniel Antonio, David Ricardo and Gabriella Rose. He is a Product Risk Strategist at Stripe, a developer-oriented commerce company, where he leads risk governance for the financial services business vertical. Previously, he was a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in both their Asset Management and Global Markets businesses, where he designed and led programs for operations, electronic trading, and prime services. He also held analytical and product roles at First Quadrant LP, Blackrock and Fisher Investments. Daniel is an active member of the Filipino-American community. He currently serves on the National Executive Board for the International Society of Filipinos in Finance & Accounting and was previously the President for the New York Chapter. He also serves as the President of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of New York. Daniel is a firm believer in higher education and is actively involved in outreach and admissions for Yale University, UC Berkeley, and The Riordan Programs at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Daniel obtained a B.A. with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He also studied at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati, Philippines.

Genevieve Villafranca Jopanda is the first American born of Ilonggo and Karay-a parents. She is a leadership executive with over 20 years of business operations experience across non-profit, corporate, and political and government environments. Genevieve has the most recent immediate impact at the California State Treasury where she served as Chief of Staff/ Chief Deputy Treasurer and top advisor to the elected State Treasurer. There she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of numerous state programs and divisions including upwards of 450 geographically dispersed staff across the state overseeing more than $2 trillion in transactions and an investment portfolio of over $100 billion within a typical year.

Michele Josue is an Emmy award-winning Filipino filmmaker. Her debut MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE is the winner of 10 Best Documentary and Audience Awards from festivals worldwide and the 2016 Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Special Class Special.” Michele is the Creator and Director of HAPPY JAIL, the Netflix Original documentary series about the world-famous Filipino “Dancing Inmates” that won the 2021 Silver Telly Award for Series Documentary for Television. Michele was selected as a 2021 Film Independent Fast Track Fellow with NURSE UNSEEN, her upcoming documentary about the unsung Filipino-American nurses risking their lives on the frontlines of the pandemic while facing a resurgence of anti-Asian hate in the streets.

Agnes Lopez is a Filipino-American editorial and commercial photographer whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, MIT Technology Review, The Local Palate, on the Food Network, in cookbooks, and advertising campaigns for national brands.  For the past five years, Lopez has been hard at work directing her first documentary, JAX Filipino Chefs, following the journey of a group of Filipino-American chefs as they set out to change the culinary scene of her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida with their food. Her portraits of Filipino World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors, The Faces to Remember Project, is a traveling exhibit that has been featured at galleries and museums across Florida. Lopez recently launched a new talent agency, Pose Well Models, that focuses on providing a diverse and inclusive roster of models for today’s brands and ad campaigns.

Angelo Mathay is an Administrative Judge at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission based in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he adjudicates employment discrimination claims filed by federal employees in three southeastern states. He completed a detail as a Trial Attorney with the Immigration and Employee Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, providing the office assistance with investigations related to citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, national origin discrimination, unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9 and E-Verify, and retaliation or intimidation. Previously, he worked at various immigration law and policy-related organizations in Washington, D.C., such as the National Immigration Law Center, Migration Policy Institute, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Before coming to North Carolina, he was a Program Officer with the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City, where he managed part of the immigration legal services and the food security portfolios.

Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos, EdD, MSN, WHNP, is an assistant professor and an Engaged Civic Learning Faculty Fellow at Rutgers University in Camden, NJ. She practices as a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. She is an award-winning author and educator, and a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (FAANP). Dr. Nagtalon-Ramos currently serves as the treasurer of FAANP’s Executive Committee, a member of the Editorial Board of the Women’s Healthcare Journal, and was recently elected as a Board member of the Filipinx/a/o Community Health Association (Fil-CHA). She is an active member of the Philippine Nurses Association of America and the Philippine Community of Southern New Jersey.

Constancio Paranal III is a lawyer specializing in the field of cybersecurity law. While in law school, he served in various government institutions including the Office of the General Counsel of the University of Hawai’i, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Hawai’i, and the Office of the Attorney General of Guam. In private practice, he worked in the field of Family law and Criminal Defense. Outside of legal practice, he is a faculty fellow at the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. In addition, he helps the City and County of Honolulu at the Office of Economic Revitalization, with the goal of promoting innovation and technology to support the city’s future economic growth post pandemic by creating “good jobs.” Constancio was born and raised in the Philippines. He is an alumnus of De La Salle University – Manila and was recently admitted to the Asian Institute of Management. Outside of work and school, Constancio and his spouse run their own non-profit organization, the Finley Fort Foundation, in memory of their beloved frenchie, Finley. During their spare time, they love to check new restaurants in town with their new baby frenchie, Franklin. 

Danicole Ramos is from Waialua, Hawai‘i on the North Shore of O‘ahu. He is in his final year of law school at the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law. He also serves as Military Equal Opportunity Officer in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard, working to promote an environment free from personal, social or institutional barriers that could prevent Air Force members from rising to their highest potential.

Angelico “Iko” Razon (he/him) is an internist, pediatrician, and public health professional. His father is from Pampanga, and his mother is from Cebu. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Harvard College, medical degree through UCLA’s PRIME-LA Program, master of public health at Harvard, and master of science in health policy research at the University of Pennsylvania. After combined residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Michigan and the National Clinician Scholars Program at Penn, Iko served as an Attending Physician with the Adult Care & Transition Team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a Medical Specialist at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in the Division of COVID Containment. Iko is now an Assistant Professor at the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine in the Department of Health Systems Science. He also serves as the Operations Chair of the Council of Young Filipinx Americans in Medicine (CYFAM), a FYLPRO Legacy Project. Iko loves painting, dinosaurs, cooking, dancing, and storytelling. 

Michi Trota (she/her/hers) is a writer, editor, and fire performer who is a five-time Hugo Award winner, British Fantasy Award winner, and Ignyte Award finalist. She is the Features Editor of Prism, a former Editor-in-Chief of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA), and the first Filipina Hugo Award winner. Michi has been a guest on NPR programs and a speaker at multiple venues including the Chicago Humanities Festival. Her publications include the WisCon Chronicles Vol. 12 co-edited with Isabel Schechter (Aqueduct Press) and the Wing Luke Museum 2018-19 exhibit Worlds Beyond Here: Expanding the Universe of APA Science Fiction. Michi performs with the Raks Geek/Raks Inferno Fire+Bellydance troupe and lives with her spouse and two cats in Chicago.

John Victoria has always believed in the importance of service, accountability, and a commitment to excellence, from his childhood to his training as a U.S. Naval Officer. With these core values, John founded Polianna, a digital marketing agency focusing exclusively on helping home service contractors profitably grow their businesses online with a specialty in local SEO and website development. He’s helped home service companies cross 8-figures in revenue, add hundreds of additional inbound calls every month, and build truly consistent lead flow in their business by implementing effective internet marketing strategies. John is also the host of the HVAC Financial Freedom podcast and the bestselling author of The HVAC Marketing Machine. 

Neil Wingkun works as an emergency physician in Houston, Texas, at Houston Methodist Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center.   During COVID, Neil served on the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) public health committee, helping to improve public health awareness with discharge planning in the emergency department.  Outside of his clinical duties, he serves as the Chief Mentorship Chair for Council for Filipinos Americans in Medicine (CYFAM).