Almazan on retirement, Palm Coast and her plans for the PAAPC
When Winda and Tony Almazan moved to Palm Coast from the suburbs of Philadelphia in 2014, they did not expect what they found here.
“We were surprised there were so many Filipinos,” Tony Almazan said. More in the immediate area than in their last suburb, in fact.
The Almazans were quick to join the Philippine American Association of Palm Coast after the move, having been members of similar groups before; Winda Almazan had been very active in the Philippine Nurses Association and had founded a youth dance troupe for the purpose of teaching cultural dances from the Philippines.
Finding such a large number of her countrymen in Palm Coast made Winda think she could continue her work in a calmer setting than she had in Pennsylvania.
“It’s totally different from the city,” she said. “We’d done the city for so many years. We came here to settle down and retire. We love it.”
The PAAPC was born in 1992, 12 years after Winda Almazan arrived in the U.S. in 1970 as a nurse via the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
“It was hard to adjust, because here you’re totally on your own,” she said. “The family living” she was used to in the Philippines, with multiple generations living close to each other, wasn’t there. But Winda Almazan ultimately stayed here because, she said, “there was more advancement in education. I began to like the independence.”
While there are more Filipinos nearby in Palm Coast than where they used to live, the PAAPC is different from previous groups the Almazans were part of.
“It’s an older group,” Winda Almazan said. But that’s a virtue: the members have experience with previous associations and can exchange ideas on how to run this one.
“In the end,” she said, “we have the same goal.” That goal? To help their countrymen in the Philippines by setting up scholarships, raising funds for medical assistance and helping with disaster relief for volcanic eruptions and typhoons. The PAAPC has another medical mission planned in April, which will see its members going to a small mountain town to do things like dental work, circumcisions and health screenings for the poor residents. This is when Winda and Tony Almazan have the opportunity to turn to their homeland outside of visits to extended family.
Winda Almazan will have the opportunity to take a more active role in planning these operations now that she has been elected as president of the PAAPC and installed at a song- and dance-filled ceremony with around 160 attendees Feb. 8.
“I was honored,” she said. Group members look for leadership public speaking abilities in a potential president, she said, as well as a sense for public relations and a professional career.
“I’ve always been a leader,” Winda Almazan said. “You always think about your members before anything else. The responsibility is tremendous.” Despite coming to palm Coast for retirement, she has never been busier.
She has plans for the organization. She wants to educate Philippine American kids about their history, through programs like her dance classes and engagement with older Filipinos. Winda hopes to reach out to other associations like the Portuguese American Association and African American Cultural Society for mutual support and to exchange ideas.
“In traveling, we’ve found people are all the same,” she said. “We like to eat, we like to dance, we like to sing.”
And she wants to bring more of the local Philippine American population into the association as active members.
“That’s part of my platform,” Winda Almazan said, laughing, “get them out of their shells!”