The Filipinos and Friends in Chiangrai (FFC) was founded in 2007 by yours truly. There were more than 20 Filipino expatriates then. Most of them were teachers and some were married to the locals while others settled in this lovely town with their foreign partners. The group had more than 20 members headed by six individuals. It was organized to start the Filipino community in the northernmost part of Thailand. While this organization appeared insignificant in the eyes of the Foreign teaching community in Thailand, it played a very big role in solving the most immediate need of the foreign teaching community in 2008: an affordable Thai Culture and Language, and Professional Standards Training conducted by the Private School Teachers' Association of Thailand in coordination with the Teachers' Council of Thailand.
In February 2008, the group helped fund the First Filipino Teachers' Conference in Chiangmai which was followed by a series of forums in Bangkok. These series of consultations with the Filipino teaching community resulted in the primary objective of seeking answers to the growing concerns and issues brought about by the Thai Culture and Language, and Professional Standards Training. With the strong support of the defunct Filipino Educators' Council of Thailand, the leadership was able to find the solution. The Filipino teachers and other foreign nationals were grateful to the first biggest and most affordable Thai Culture and Language, and Professional Standards Training in May 2008. Since then, it opened many channels of information sources on this important teacher licensing requirement.
This coming June 30, 2010 the Filipinos and Friends in Chiangrai will have its induction of officers and welfare services' consultation by the Philippine Embassy. Coincidentally, the date happens to be the inauguration of president-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III back home in the Philippines. Now, the group has reached more than 60 members and counting. It is believed that there are more than 100 Filipino expats in Chiangrai. The recorded Filipino expat who stayed the longest in this cool province is businesswoman Tita Elisa who has been living for more than 35 years. She is married to a Thai-Chinese who manages one of the biggest hotels in town and they have two successful children who are taking care of the family's other business lines.
Notably, one of the municipal schools called "Tesaban 7" employed 12 Filipino teachers while other major schools hired an average of two to three Filipinos. Miss Gina Salonga who used to work in Kanchanipisek Chaiyaphum adds to the list of desirable Filipino teachers. She was a teacher trainer in Kanchanapisek and her accomplishment in the field of teaching English as a second language was featured at Channel 7 in 2008. She is now working at Mae Fah Luang University.
This year, the Filipinos and Friends in Chiangrai aims to provide a series of professional development training to its members focusing on the improvement of the teaching weaknesses of the Filipino teachers. Moreover, the group will be doing some cultural shows to highlight the Filipinos' cultural heritage in the province.