Mabuhay CU Ready to Benefit Community

Mabuhay Credit Union
The Advisory Council of Mabuhay CU, a division of Nikkei CU, which celebrated its grand opening on June 11.

Right as changes within the Japanese-American community in the South Bay had prompted a need for Nikkei CU and its CEO Jon Hernandez and board to expand as a community, the Gardena-based credit union saw that the Filipino-American community—despite being the largest Asian American population in California—was being underserved by financial institutions.

That led to the creation of Mabuhay CU, a division of Nikkei CU, which officially celebrated its grand opening on June 11 (the day before the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the Philippines, though by the time the ceremony was held it was already June 12 in the Southeast Asian country). Located in Carson, CA, this is the first full-service financial institution to specifically cater to the financial services needs of the Filipino and Filipino-American community in the South Bay and Los Angeles areas. The credit union also is home to “The Philippine Masters Collection” by renowned Filipino artist Eliseo Art Silva, comprised of five 6’x6’ canvases—“Luzonian Legacies”, “Visayan Viajeros”, “Mindanaoan Maharlikans”, “Mabuhay Ang Republika ng Pilipinas!”.

“Mabuhay” is a Filipino word akin to the Hawaiian “Aloha” or the Spanish “Viva.” It literally means “long live”, but also can be used as a form of greeting or to mean “be prosperous”.

As a DBA, Mabuhay CU and Nikkei CU are legally the same company and share the same CEO, back-office staff, and board members, said Frederick Alain Docdocil, Mabuhay branch and business development coordinator.

“What we created was a Mabuhay Advisory Council which are community, business, and student leaders from the Filipino-American community to help us in building up the brand and ensure the we’re really beneficial to the community,” Docdocil added.

Mabuhay CU’s stated purpose is “Advancing Prosperity for Our Community”. It offers a full array of financial products and services, including savings and checking accounts, youth accounts, money markets, IRAs, certificates, credit cards, personal loans, car loans, mortgage loans, and home equity lines of credit. 

Since its grand opening, the credit union has established a number of Select Employer Groups (SEGs) and association partnerships with companies and organizations, including Alpha Kappa Rho Fraternity, Amor Yu Productions, the FilAm Chamber of Commerce of SouthBay LA Area, Kagay-anons of SoCal, Kayumanggi Lions Club, LA Tanay USA Lions Club, LB Bacolod Association, Philippine Independence Day Foundation, Inc., Regal, Inc., Rolly's Tax Service, Search to Involve Filipino Americans, Pamana Kali, Philippine Eagle Dragon Boat, FilAm Chamber of Commerce-Greater LA, FilAm Chamber of Commerce-Hollywood, FilAm Chamber of Commerce-OC, and FilAm Chamber of Commerce-County. Mabuhay CU now has five FilAm Chamber of Commerce partners.

Just a few months after opening, the credit union currently serves more than 350 members and has exceeded its goals for employer groups/association partners as well as deposits and loans, Docdocil said.

The June grand opening celebration drew a wide number of VIPs and dignitaries including all of city of Carson elected officials; representatives from the offices of Assemblyman Mike Gipson, Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, and Congresswoman Nanette Barragán; City Council members from Cerritos and Artesia; and planning commissioners from various cities. Consul General Adelio Cruz and Deputy Consul General Ambrosio Enciso of the Philippine Consulate General LA, Tourism Attaché Richmond Jimenez from the Philippine Department of Tourism, and Father Mike Java from the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish also attended. Officers and representatives from the Carson Chamber of Commerce and the FilAm Chamber of Commerce of SouthBay LA Area officiated the ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally open MCU to the community.

Hernandez and the Mabuhay staff and board have set a three-year goal for the credit union but are shooting to meet it in two: for Mabuhay to generate enough revenue to sustain itself, proving the concept, and then expand.

“We ultimately want to be viewed as a community organization that also happens to provide financial services,” said Hernandez.

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