What is PAYO?
The Philippine-American Youth Organization (PAYO) is a non-profit mentorship program composed of high school and college students, and young professionals. We focus on cultural awareness and student leadership through community service and fun activities. Our agenda includes preserving, supporting and advocating issues relevant to the Fil-Am community in San Diego, California, and the United States. We focus on personal, academic, and leadership development as well as involvement in the community. PAYO is student driven, meaning that the students dictate the course of the organization. We strive to provide young Filipino Americans a place fit for all their needs in regards to self identity, job readiness, preparation for higher education and a space to commune freely.
PAYO offers students opportunities to step out of their comfort zone and become leaders in their own right. These opportunities include executive positions that give students experience in working as a team, delegating tasks, and taking responsibility. Students participate in workshops that build skills that they will take with them well into their careers. Students can also lead committees and work as a group to organize events. The strong mentor-student relationship that PAYO offers allows college students and young professionals to help guide students through the same path they experienced as high school students in order to help them become leaders in their community and careers.
When asked about their race, a second generation Filipino would, without a doubt, say they were Filipino. However, that statement is much more complex than one would believe. One of PAYO's many goals is to help members of the organization, particularly its high schoolers, build a personality that revolves around their Filipino heritage. We learn about the history and customs of the Philippines in fun ways such as playing the traditional street games, enjoying the delicious food, and dancing and acting in PAYO's annual culture night (PCN). Learning about culture is a moving experience as members and mentors alike realize the difficult past of the Philippines and the determination of the hard workers who held onto the dream of building a life in America. Above all, experiencing our culture helps us connect with our family, both the family that we come home to and the family that we find in PAYO. It is a heartwarming experience indeed that a group of islands, 8,000 miles away, can bring so many people together.