By Orlino Baldonado
Several members of the Filipino-American community from Knoxville and the surrounding areas met each other during the 1982 World’s Fair. After that, most everyone felt like continuing the camaraderie and decided to organize into a formal group.
The organizational meeting for PAAET was held at Melton Hill Dam Lake on June 16, 1984. By August of that year, the constitution and bylaws had already been drafted and approved by the members on September 8, 1984.
On that day, the first set of PAAET officers were inducted into office. Romy Baylosis became the first president.
The organization has grown through the years, and at its peak in 2005, we estimated that there were over 240 families that were active in PAAET, including families that adopted children from the Philippines.
During many past years, several members joined in celebrating a Catholic mass (done in English and Tagalog) about once a month. Naturally, the attendees were treated to a shared meal afterwards. Many people celebrated birthdays and other memorable occasions during these PAAET events.
In 2003, PAAET held a Cultural Affair at the Three Rivers Pavilion; a similar one was held in 2009 in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the association. Participation in these cultural shows had always been one of the highlights of PAAET activities. The first one was in October 1987 in Richlands, VA where the PAAET group performed a few Filipino folk dances and sang Kundiman songs.
Through the years, PAAET participated in several cultural activities locally and out of town, including Nashville, Morristown, Middlesboro (KY), and Maryville. Folk dances were always enjoyed by the crowds.
Some of our sports-minded young people participated in occasional basketball tournaments with other Filipino-American groups. Also, on several occasions, we joined other ethnic groups at UT for annual cookouts or food festivals, and the Filipino dishes were always best sellers.
Now in 2010, the PAAET tradition of getting together, having fun and sharing the news continues.