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Junior Balikatan:
Where are they now?
Eileen Marie Pascual Blume
Interview by Valerie  Agbayani-Malabonga 


1) Please tell us where you are now in terms of your family and career. If you are the representative of your family, please respond on behalf of your siblings.

My eldest brother, Andy, and his wife Carrie live in Norcross, Georgia with their three kids, Ella (5), Alex (4), and Olivia (9 months). Andy is an Assistant District Attorney for DeKalb County and a Captain with the U.S. Army National Guard (JAG Corps). In that capacity, he will serve in Kuwait for one year, beginning in July, while Carrie holds down the fort at home with the kiddos. My other brother, Jonathan, and his wife Sarah live in Stone Mountain, Georgia with their four children, Faith (6), Favor (6), Rory (3), and Ransom (1). Jonathan recently transitioned from being a stay-at-home dad to realizing his dream of opening up his own coffee shop, while Sarah transitioned back to full-time motherhood after working for a nonprofit organization as a regional manager. The coffee shop, Taproom Coffee, has already received significant publicity and support from the Atlanta community. My (Eileen’s) husband, Phillip, and I live in Athens, Georgia with our two daughters, Jasmine (3) and Juliette (1), and are currently in the process of adopting our third from China. As photographers, we’ve won several international awards and often travel for wedding shoots and speaking engagements across the United States and abroad.

 2) What is your favorite part of or favorite memory(ies) of attending Balikatan conferences?

I got excited every time July 4th weekend drew near, because I knew that meant my family would travel to another state and my brothers and I would get to see and hang out with our friends—fellow “balik-buds”—several of whom I keep in touch with to this day. Our absolute favorite thing to do together was play card games during every break throughout the conference. I also enjoyed preparing for and acting in skits for Fun Night. One year my friends and I re-enacted my parents accidentally leaving me at a rest stop. It was great!

 3) How has attending Balikatan conferences, and Junior Balikatan in particular, helped you in your spiritual walk (or Christian life)?

The fact that my parents made it priority to attend Balikatan every year showed me the importance of getting together with other believers (no matter the distance) for fellowship and spiritual support. It was an encouragement for me to see my parents having a good time with their friends and working together to further God’s Kingdom.

 4) Do you have any suggestions for improving Balikatan's program for its children and youth?

During my time as a Balikatan youth, I remember having a lot of free time to hang out and just enjoy being with my friends I only saw once a year. I would suggest minimal mandatory programs for the youth, and maintain an open schedule for the kids to play and enjoy the short time together.  I always liked the idea of having each age group perform a skit during Fun Night.


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