Wednesday, October 28, 2015

LYDIA A. BALLARD: The Master Multi-Tasker

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, there were significant events worth mentioning both in the Philippines and in the United States. Unbeknownst to many, these events have actually affected the course of both Philippine and U.S. history.

Even more unknown were the roles that patriots played in these events as they portrayed theirs behind the scenes. Invisibly and humbly delivering efficiently and effectively, they were never officially recognized nor rewarded. This tribute is my long-delayed but most heartfelt attempt to honor the contributions of one of them.

LYDIA A. BALLARD was a writer, author, editor, publisher, human resource developer, conference and events planner/organizer, advocate and lobbyist for causes, woman entrepreneur, executive officer for non-profits, administrator, a political propagandist and a PR woman – all rolled into one.

I can say this with absolute certainty and complete honesty because I was a living witness and beneficiary to what she could do and to what she actually did, as she became part and parcel of these historical events.

In the decades mentioned above, Marcos was ruling the Philippines as a dictator with the friendly support of the U.S. government. The abuses of the regime gave birth to the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP) led by former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul S. Manglapus. Senator Ninoy Aquino, Constitutional Convention Delegate Boni Gillego who exposed the Fake Medals of Marcos, Asian Institute of Management (AIM) President & Dean Gasty Ortigas and many more Filipino patriots living in the U.S. and Canada, later on joined him. MFP is dubbed historically as the 20th Century Propaganda Movement not unlike the Propaganda Movement of Rizal and Lopez Jaena in the 19th Century.

Helping behind the scenes was Lydia Ballard who was active in writing position papers and in lobbying the U.S. Congress and the Administration to change its favorable policies towards Marcos. She made sure that the political community in Washington as well as the Filipino-American community in the U.S. was well informed about the Marcos abuses and the wisdom of restoring democracy in the Philippines.

Having worked with and observed Lydia displaying her writing and editing skills as well as her expertise in advocacy and lobbying, I recruited her to be my deputy as I started performing my duties as the first Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC). She was also my deputy when I became the Executive Director of the Asian American Fund concurrently.

President Ronald Reagan called APACC the “fastest growing ethnic business organization in the country”. Although most of the credit has been given to me as Executive Director, and Ronald Hsu as APACC National President, the truth is that Lydia deserved the biggest credit. She ran the office. She planned and organized the national conferences in the different cities. She organized the events and the seminars in those conferences. She wrote most of the articles, edited the newsletters and published them. She issued press releases and articulated our views.

She knew APACC’s goal as she did MFP’s. The latter focused on political freedom. The former was fighting for economic justice on behalf of the socially and economically disadvantaged minorities in the United States. Before our being, there was minimal participation of Asians in the multi-billion dollar minority business development programs of the Federal and State governments.

Then U.S. Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher created a Minority Business Development Advisory Council (MBDAC) chaired by former Secretary of Commerce Maurice Evans to review these programs and come up with new policies. I was lucky to be appointed as a member of the council representing the Asian business community. Most of the programs that we came up with are still in existence today

In APACC's seminars and conferences, Lydia made sure that these minority business policies and programs were made known and taken advantaged of by Filipino entrepreneurs and other Asians.

These programs which included the 8-a program, the small and minority business financing and loan programs, research grants, manufacturing, marketing and minority contracting set-aside opportunities, woman-owned business development programs and many more brought prosperity to a lot of Asian businesses and other minorities as well.

I remember Lydia and I following up the approval of certain Filipino-owned companies of their 8-a status as well as obtaining their first Federal contracts as a minority.

Only a Master Multi-Tasker like Lydia, coupled with her dedication, compassion, and utmost competence with extra-ordinary skills could possibly accomplish what I described above.

Her contribution to the eventual restoration of democracy in the Philippines was borne out of love for country and nation. She did it without compensation.

Her contribution to rendering economic and social justice to minorities that included Filipino Americans was also borne out of love for country and nation. She did it with minimal compensation.
Lydia was a great gift to all of us from God. For what she did and became, she was as great a gift to God. We will miss her dearly!    

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