WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) mourns the passing of a dedicated Filipino American leader and one of our very own founding members, Merit Salud, on December 17. NaFFAA leaders issued the following statements on his passing:

Brendan Flores, National Chairman:
“Today marks an immense loss to NaFFAA and to the Filipino American community at large. Emerito ‘Merit’ Salud was a champion with the noblest of purpose — the pursuit of justice. As a leader with the Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF), he advocated for and represented the most vulnerable Filipinos in society. From his involvement in FALDEF, U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance, and even to the founding of this very organization, Merit Salud laid a foundation of Filipino American justice and advocacy that will transcend generations.”

JT Mallonga, Former National Chairman:
“It was the privilege of my lifetime to work side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder with a man as principled and passionate as Merit Salud. Together we fought for the rights of vulnerable immigrants seeking a new home in America. And in 1997, we helped galvanize an emerging coalition of Filipino American leaders to form the largest American organization advocating for Filipinos in the United States. In Merit, I found a brother in justice, a personal confidante, and most important of all, a friend.”

Emraida Kiram, National Vice Chair:
“In the large NaFFAA family, Merit Salud was known as ‘No Problem Salud’ because each time an assignment was thrown his way, he responded with a large affirmative ‘no problem.’ You also knew it was going to get done. From his beloved Region 1, Merit served with dedication and commitment. He attended each National Empowerment Conference with great pride and joy. Their hotel room, or that of their friends, the Tinana’s, was the center of after-meeting tete-a-tete get togethers, where many of us found the discussions to be more substantial than those we just left. He was the life of every party, generous in spirit and funny as funny can be, able to relate personalities from past conferences and recall exciting and memorable people we still had to meet. We all had a great time in Philadelphia and while we promised to be together in California, we know we will. Wherever you are, Merit, you will always be present in our hearts, and you will surely be missed, ‘no problem’.”

Aida Rivera, Northeast Region Chair:
“Merit was a long-time supporter and member of NaFFAA, an activist mentor, and true advocate for Filipino Americans with the Big Voice, literally and figuratively. He was a great writer and the Big Brother one can go to for his advice.”

Steven Raga, Board of Governors:
“Merit was a fierce advocate and fiery orator who loved our community relentlessly. Before I joined NaFFAA, I would bump into him wherever Filipinos gathered: at a town hall forum at the Philippine Consulate, a rally or demonstration, or just at a Filipino bar in Woodside, Queens. I’m honored to have served as his Executive Director for the NaFFAA Northeast Region while he served as Chairman. His influence can easily be witnessed in the new leaders he had mentored over the years, and we are sure to give a piece of him to the leaders who come after us.”

For U.S.-based family and friends, a memorial service will be scheduled at a date yet to be determined.