Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia living on Guam have always complained about the office of the FSM Consul General, feeling neglected as they struggle to assimilate into the local community.
Terese Filepin, the new FSM consul general who took office on Oct. 19, 2018 took office on Oct. 19, 2018, promises things will be different under her watch. The 41-year-old diplomat, who lives in Tamuning, said she has plans to communicate with FSM citizens on a regular basis.
Filepin’s arrival on Guam put her right smack in a hectic time dealing with some FSM citizens, who were groping for assistance in the wake of Typhoon Mangkhut and Yutu which slammed Guam and CNMI respectively. Filepin said, after the holidays, she would start working with the FSM Association to address the needs of citizens from Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Korsae.
“I’m here to help,” Filepin said in an interview. “I need to know what’s going on. I need to know how we can help. I don’t want to just be in this office all day. If it’s work, education or housing, let’s get out there and see how we can help. Sometimes solving a problem is just a matter of asking the right questions and reaching out to the right people.”
Filepin anticipates a host of issues and concerns to be brought to her attention, but asks for patience. “I don’t want people to have the misconception that I have all the answers,” the former director of Yap state department of education said. “I am not a miracle worker.”
Filepin said her staff won’t be able to fix things overnight. Many of the problems have accumulated over many years and it will take time to study and get them resolved, she added.
Since her arrival on Guam, Filepin has reached out to Guam leaders including the outgoing governor, Eddie Basa Calvo. She will continue the dialogue with the new Guam governor, Lou Leon Guerrero. While she has many short-term plans, Filepin said, her long-term goals include establishing a mechanism to track FSM citizens, especially those under scholarships, to encourage them to go back home and help their own country. Such mechanism, she added, will not only help FSM officials back in Pohnpei, but also local authorities in their home island communities. “It’s also for those FSM citizens wanting to make a life outside of FSM,” she added. “We want to be able to collect data on them which will make providing (these FSMers) appropriate services more effective and expedient.”
But for now, Filepin’s focus is on the here and now: “I’m not here to tell (my people) what to do. Instead, I’m here to learn, study and help.”