A woman of service

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

The “S” Factor

Friday, January 3, 2014


I DON’T know her personally that much as it was only few months ago that I came to know about her, specifically as president of the Filipino-American community of the Carolinas (FACC).

Now her term as FACC president has come to an end, and I thought I have to report about her year-long presidency.

I was demanding to interview her that I had to apologize.

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It's not that I am mean but years of journalistic work in the Philippines made me refuse to take “later” or “no” as an answer.

I was just after the news that I didn't even ask that I be exempted to pay entrance for the FACC gala night since I would do write-ups.

She might have given me a pass but I didn't ask for it.

Anyway, I am going to write about Florami Lao Cordero Lee.

No matter how late she would answer me or leave a message, I was determined that she would give me answers that day.

I asked her how she would define a leader in relation to her leading 400 plus Fil-American families who are members of the FACC.

Florami answered that a leader is like a shepherd, “who stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble to go ahead. The others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

The recently departed South African leader Nelson Mandela happened to be one of her inspirations, Florami said.

It was no small coincidence that his passing a few days ago also preceded her exit from the FACC presidency.

As she bows out, Florami recalled with fondness the experiences she had as FACC president.

Among these are her meetings with public figures like Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisa at the International Cabinet Awards and Governor Pat McRory of North Carolina.

Project after project were accomplished under her watch.

These included a trip to Cherokee for the seniors and not so seniors; donation of canned goods to the Second Harvest and bringing the youth to the Second Harvest warehouse.

She also organized community fund raising activities like the Concert with Mitch Franco and just recently the Zumbathon.

Born in Cebu, Florami grew up in Manila.

She has two children with Chinese American husband Wyatt named Dina Joy and Kellen Jojon.

Her favorite colors are purple and turquoise blue while she counts Mariah Carey as her favorite singer.

She said she is still reading inspirational book by Bruce and Stan specifically their book "God is in the Small Stuff in the Family.”

Among the many things Florami would list in her bucket list is to help again more Filipinos rebuild their lives from the devastation of the October 15 earthquake and super typhoon Haiyan.

“I have attended so many functions and have met so many different kinds of people; I thank The Lord Almighty for making me strong and all things possible!”

Amid all of these, Florami still remains humble and ever ready to help others.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 04, 2014.

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