top of page

PNAGF History

                            History of the Philippine Nurses Association of Gulfcoast Florida

                                                       Written by Cecile Santos-Medenilla BSN RN, TNCC,  ENPC                                                                                                                         President 2012-2014, 3022-2024                                                                                                                                                    

        The Philippine Nurses Association of Gulfcoast Florida was established to unite strong Filipino-American nurses who epitomize strong commitment, service and dedication for the nursing profession.

        The Philippine Nurses Association of Gulfcoast Florida, Incorporated, also known as PNAGF, is a non-profit professional organization comprised of members of Filipino nurses from Pasco, Hernando, and Pinellas counties which are all strategically located along the Gulf of Mexico. It was founded in 1999 by Filipino nurses in Pasco County, Florida. Its prime mission is to have a professional organization that will unite Filipino-American nurses in the area. Its initial goals are to promote professional and personal enrichment, strengthen camaraderie among the members, extend community service and promote the Filipino unique culture and traditions through participation in socio-cultural events and activities of the Filipino American communities. And these humble goals have expanded into what they are today. Also, it extends its support to fellow Filipino nurses who are new in the area or just arrive in the country.

        PNAGF was an idea that came about during a New Year’s Day celebration in 1999 hosted by Dr. Felipe Casabar and his wife Aura, a registered nurse. Among the attendees were fellow nurses   Merly Santos-Llanto, Agnes Santos, Cecile Santos-Medenilla, Rosemarie Dy and Dr. Rica Cua who agreed that a professional organization was needed to unify and strengthen camaraderie among Filipino American nurses. It was decided that Filipino American nurses from the area be invited to a special meeting on a Saturday, February 6, 1999 at Anderson Park, Tarpon Springs in Pinellas county, where Aura Casabar and Merly Santos-Llanto presented and discussed the feasibility of forming an organization. The sixteen nurses who came agreed to finalize the idea. Discussions regarding a creation of a nurses’ organization were not new but the timeliness and readiness of all the nurses on that day facilitated the fruition of PNAGF.

        On March 27, 1999, twentyfive enthusiastic nurses gathered and chose the interim officers who were willing to share and commit their time and effort in order to get PNAGF off the ground. On that historic day, the Philippine Nurses Association of Gulfcoast Florida or PNAGF was born. The Filipino American nurses named the association officially and stated their prime mission and goals. Ms. Liw Villagomeza, the founding President of PNA of Tampa Bay was invited and gave an inspirational talk about the specifics of organizing an association. She was a prime mentor and supporter of PNAGF. PNAGF made another meeting on May 29, 1999, and that was the time the first PNAGF Constitution and By-Laws was presented and drafted by the members and interim officers. PNAGF official logo was chosen and it was artistically drawn by an architect and cousin of Ma. Bella Ballesteros- Cabrera, a founding officer. PNAGF was registered as a non-profit professional organization in the State of Florida on March 13, 2000. It was recognized as the 23rd local chapter of the Philippine Nurses Association of America on June 24, 2000 in Indianapolis, Indiana during the 21st PNAA National Convention. Merly Santos- Llanto attended the PNAA National Convention as a lone representative and received the plaque of recognition on behalf of the association. On August 19, 2000, the PNAGF founding officers were inducted on its inaugural day held at Heritage Springs Country Club in New Port Richey, Pasco County, Florida. Forty-two Filipino American nurses became the bonafide founding members of PNAGF and members of PNAA.

        Over the years of hard work, dedication, generous time and effort given by the founding officers and members, they remain active and visible. The PNAGF members continued to educate, motivate, and, encourage members to explore possibilities and opportunities to grow professionally. PNAGF did increase its membership and extends its generosity to its neighboring communities and own country, the Philippines. With the strong support from their families and community, PNAGF weathered all struggles and a solid foundation was formed from the leaderships of its founding officers.

        Under the leaderships of its past presidents, Merly Santos-Llanto, Tita Ravi, Alma Asuncion, Medina Madrinan, Orpha Ale Mineque, Abel Madrinan (Rip), Esmeralda Santos, Cecile Santos-Medenilla, Norma Quintong-Milnes and present President Janella Puyot ( 2019-2020), PNAGf continues to be a vibrant and active organization that stayed true to its mission and goals.

        Merly Santos-Llanto, the founding president when asked how the organization started once quoted, “It was a small dream that became big. It is a good representation of being a nurse, a Filipino nurse who cares and shares, neither for the fame nor popularity but for the humanitarian deeds and humility of being a nurse. It is great to know that people of other nationalities will have a high regard and respect for Filipino nurses. And that is why we, Filipino American nurses unite, educate and work together to make a difference.”

Founding Executive Officers 2000-2002

    President:  Merly Santos- Llanto BSC RN

    Vice-Pres: Ma. Janua Coeli Florentin-Navarro BSN CCRN RN

    Corresponding Sec:  Aura Casabar BSN RN 

    Recording Sec:  Ma. Bella Ballesteros- Cabrera BSN RN

    Auditor:  Stanley Orozco BSN RN

    PRO:  Lolita Plandes- Pollack BSN RN / Evangeline Pagulayan BSN RN

    Advisor:  Dr. Riqueza Cua


 Board of Directors:            

     Agnes M. Santos BSN CCRN MBA RN

     Cecile Santos-Medenilla BSN RN

     Heidi Stein BSN RN

     Tita Ravi BSN RN

     Carmen Molino BSN RN

     Rosemarie Dy BSN RN

     Adelwisa Baker BSN RN

PNAGF First Meeting Attendees: February 06, 1999

     Adelwisa Baker                                            Lolita Pollack                                                

     Agnes Santos                                                Maria Elena Pannozzo

     Aura Casabar                                                Merly Santos-Llanto

     Cecile Santos-Medenilla                            Riqueza Cua    

     Coraluz Timoteo                                          Rosemarie Dy

     Evangeline Pagulayan                                 Stanley Orozco

     Heidi Stein                                                    Maria Theresa Salamilao

    Janua Coeli Navarro                                     Tita Ravi


PNAGF Supporters

   Liw Villagomeza and Aba Villagomeza

   Bill and Claire Ick

   Dr.  William and Rica Cua

   Dr. Rodolfo Dy

   Dr. Felipe Casabar

   Dr.Krishna Ravi

   Mr. John Curry

   Mrs. Elsie Canary

   All the family members of the founding officers and members

PNAGF Beneficiaries

     American Cancer Society

     American Red Cross

     American Heart Association

     Good Samaritan Clinic

     Bantay Bata

PNAGF founders.jpg
PNAGF founders.jpg
bottom of page