Bing Cardenas Branigin
Director, International Diplomatic & Community Outreach
Bing Cardenas Branigin is a community leader who has been making a difference over the years in the U.S. and in the Philippines. With her wide network of contacts in both countries and her media background, she has a track record of solid accomplishments as a civic volunteer and as a professional.
Ms. Branigin, however, prefers working behind the scenes and shuns awards, believing her work speaks for itself. Most recently, she was actively involved in the successful community effort to get the U.S. Congress to pass The Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015. Congress approved the legislation on November 30, 2016. Enacted into law in December 2016, the measure granted the collective medal to 260,000 Filipinos who served under the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE).
The U.S. Congress will present the medal in a ceremony this coming October. Replicas will be given to surviving Filipino and Filipino American veterans or their next of kin. Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), led the lobbying campaign. Ms. Branigin, for years an advocate for benefits for Filipino and Filipino WWII veterans, was a member of the Filvetrep Board.
As a Filipino community representative to the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and other organizations, Ms. Branigin is also involved in their Mainstream America advocacy on civil rights, immigration reform, education and other issues. She likewise helped promote cultural diversity as a member of the executive committee of the Annual Asian Festival.
She was a Board Member of the Asia America Initiative (AAI), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. AAI has contributed over $50 million in programs implemented in Mindanao (Southern Philippines), including health programs, scholarships, and disaster relief in the Philippines. As the representative in Washington, D.C. for the Philippine National Red Cross, Ms. Branigin has also conducted fundraising efforts in the U.S. for Philippine areas affected by typhoons.
She is a Founding Member of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). She served as its Region II Chair and as Director for Community and Media Outreach.
With her media expertise, she served as Communications Consultant to Ernesto M. Maceda during his term as ambassador to the U.S. Among other things, she coordinated meetings between Philippine and American officials, media interviews and meetings with the editorial boards of U.S. mainstream newspapers.
As Media Consultant in 2002-2005 to the Philippine Department of Tourism in the U.S., she helped enhance the image of the country as a welcome destination. She proposed marketing strategies and conducted publicity campaigns with various travel-related news outlets in print and broadcast media.
Currently, she is the National Editor of the Manila Mail where she has been an active volunteer for decades. The popular community paper in D.C., Virginia and Maryland recently celebrated its 26th year of publication.
Ms. Branigin has a degree in political science and completed the Philippine Foreign Service Institute Press Attache Course. She is married to Bill Branigin, an editor at the Washington Post. The Branigins have two grown-up children.
Dr. Robert D. Eldridge
Director, North Asia
Robert D. Eldridge earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Kobe University in 1999, where his research focused on U.S.-Japan relations, Okinawa military base issues, and Japanese political and diplomatic history.After serving as a research fellow at the Suntory Foundation and Research Institute for Peace and Security, both in Japan, he taught International Public Policy at Osaka University’s School of International Public Policy from 2001 to 2009, with a focus on international security and disaster response. He then joined the U.S. Department of Defense as the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, G- 5 (Community Policy, Planning, and Liaison) for Marine Corps Bases Japan, and served in that capacity until 2015. During this time, he served as the political advisor for the forward-deployed command of U.S. Forces Japan after the March 2011 disaster. In addition to writing a weekly column, TellIt Like It Is, he is the author, editor, translator, or contributor to sixty books, including the edited memoirs of Colonel Frank Kowalski entitled An Inoffensive Rearmament: The Making of the Postwar Japanese Army (Naval Institute Press, 2013), The Origins of U.S. Policy in the East China Sea Islands Dispute: Okinawa’s Reversion and the Senkaku Islands (Routledge, 2014), Megaquake (Potomac, 2015), and the forthcoming The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force: The Search for Legitimacy (Palgrave Macmillan) and Prime Ministers of Postwar Japan: Their Lives and Times(Lexington). His memoirs, Okinawaron (On Okinawa), reached No. 1 on the bestsellers list in Japan where it remains since its publication in January. His Dare ga Okinawa o Korosu no ka (What is Going On in Okinawa?) was released by PHP in April, and his edited Tsugino Daishinsai ni Sonaeru Tame ni(Preparing for the Next Major Disaster) will be published by Kindai Shobosha in May. He is currently affiliated with several universities, think tanks, and consulting entities, and is the founder in March 2016 of the Oshima Children’s Fund. A resident of Japan for 26 years, he lives in Okinawa Prefecture with his wife and two school-agedchildren.
Charles A. "Chuck" Lopez, MBA
Director, Southeast Asia & Economic Development
Charles “Chuck” Lopez is a longtime resident of Vietnam and has worked extensively across Southeast Asia. Chuck has over 25 years of experience building relationships in finance and business, centering around sales, insurance, investment consulting, and alternative project financing for company expansions and startups. He has partnered new revenue models for financial franchisees, which consolidated assets and eliminated duplicative costs. The result of this innovative method produced a portfolio in excess of $400 million in assets and insurance under management and increased cash flow by 20% to 25%. Chuck has also set up financial service offices in Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand and helped launch a Swedish international credit union.
Chuck also pioneered new financial models specifically for projects in Vietnam and Malaysia and provided comprehensive analysis, planning, and vetting for local investment firms looking for innovative financial instruments. Chuck also vetted and marketed local projects worth $850 million.
In his years in Vietnam, Chuck has built a valuable business network linking corporate training to education sectors in Vietnam. This network nucleus includes thirty of some of the largest and most reputable enterprises including banks, technology firms, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, business schools, universities, public schools, and private individuals. Chuck is also connected to the powerful and respected University of Hawaii, Shidler College of Business, Global Alumni Network of 29,000 alumni in 40 countries and has special ties with the 500+ and highly influential VEMBA Alumni Network in Vietnam.
Chuck has also served on the Board of Directors in the USA for the Lions Club International and Rotary International. He is also a Past President of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and Past President and Director of BIAP/WHAF Organization.