State senatorial candidate endorses West Covina’s “Little Manila” designation

By Abner Galino

State senatorial candidate Michael Eng (14th from left wearing dark glasses and navy blue suit) poses with Filipino American supporters in front of the Aztig Grill in West Covina last week. Photo © Joe Cobilla

A DEMOCRAT running for a seat in the State Senate has pledged to work for the designation of a part of West Covina’s commercial district as historic “Little Manila.”

Mike Eng, a former immigration lawyer and a seasoned politician, said he will make it a part of his campaign platform to promote the designation of the Asuza-Amar intersection commercial area as Little Manila.

“I totally endorsed this area as the next historic designation of Little Manila,” Eng told a crowd of Filipino American community leaders and members of the media during a meet and greet event at the Aztig Grill in West Covina.

The senatorial candidate said the Little Manila designation for the area matters because it is a step towards branding an identity. He recalled the years when he served in the City Council of Monterey Park with the first Filipino American mayor Monty Manibog.

According to him, Manibog and two councilors each had a chance to name newly built streets of the town. The Caucasian councilor named his street “Country Road,” the Latino councilor named his street “Aztec Way” and Manibog named his street “Bataan Way.”

“And I lived in his street, Bataan Way. And every morning when I get to be asked of my address, I say I live Bataan Way. And that’s why it matters,” Eng explained, adding that the name of street itself could start a conversation about the Filipino heritage, the history behind the name and its significance to the early Filipino immigrants who worked hard and settled in the San Gabriel Valley.

Eng said Little Manila would apprise younger generations of Filipino Americans that all the perks that they enjoy were fruits of their immigrant heritage.

“Somebody had to work so many hours to come here from the Philippines many years ago and cry buckets of tears. Do you remember how lonely it was?” Eng asked to the applause of the crowd.

As he spoke, Eng particularly cited former client Fernandico Gonong, president of the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA), as an exemplary case of a hardworking and law-abiding immigrant.

Eng congratulated Gonong for being able to raise a decent family. He also praised Gonong for having his son endorsed by US Senator Dianne Feinstein to the US Naval Academy.

The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce-San Gabriel Valley is among the groups pushing for the Little Manila designation of the Amar-Asuza intersection commercial district.

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