The year that was for Filipino Americans in California

A 2018 yearender report by Abner Galino

Image by http://manila.advancedamericantax.net

INDIVIDUALLY and as a community, Filipino Americans, one of the largest ethnic communities in southern California and in the entire state of California, posted remarkable achievements in the Year 2018.

But this yearender isn’t all about achievements but more so on news that we think considerably affected or stirred the Filipino American community in more ways than one.

On this premise, the story that topped our list is no other than the nail-biting account of TJ Cox’s (Terrance John Cox) electoral victory over three-term Republican Rep. David Valadao.

TJ Cox defeats incumbent Rep. Valadao

The media initially reported that Cox had lost to Valadao. But three weeks after election day, when updated results from Fresno and Kings counties came in, Cox posted a lead of 529 votes.

The 55-year-old son of a Filipina trailed by nearly 4,000 votes on election night. But his number of votes steadily rose as results from mail-in ballots were officially counted.

TJ Cox’s win gave California Democrats a gain of seven seats in the US House of Representatives — giving the party a total of 40 new seats to regain their majority in the chamber. He will be representing California Congressional District 21.

Cox ran and lost in his first bid to win as representative of California’s 19th congressional district in the 2006 elections.

On his second try, Cox ran on the platform of supporting affordable health care, developing health clinics and creating jobs in the health care industry.

Two Fil-Am judges appointed to Superior Court

In an apparent show of trust in the competence and integrity of Filipino American in the judiciary, outgoing California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Judges Audra Ibarra and Rohanee Zapanta to fill up judgeships posts in the Bay Area and in San Diego, respectively.

Ibarra and Zapanta were part of the 13 Superior Court judgeships that Brown filled up before handing over the governorship to fellow Democrat Gavin Newsom.

Audra Ibarra has been appointed to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, becoming the first Filipino-American woman to be appointed as superior court judge in the Santa Clara County and as well as in the Bay Area.

Ibarra, 49, earned her political science degree from University of California (UC) Berkeley. She was a former assistant U.S. attorney. She was also the deputy chief of the U.S. Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. at the U.S.

Rohanee Zapanta, a deputy county public defender since 2005, was appointed to the San Diego County Superior Court.

Zapanta was one of the three women that the outgoing California governor have appointed to judgeships in the San Diego County Superior Court.

1st Fil-Am woman councilor in Artesia

Melissa Ramoso has become the only woman and Filipino American member of the City Council of Artesia. She will be starting her term of office in the backdrop of the exit of fellow Filipino American Victor Manalo who lost his re-election bid.

Ramoso, who received 1,700 votes, will become the city’s youngest councilmember and will serve a four-year term.

Malacañang honors Pilipino Workers Center (PWC)

The Los Angeles-based Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) has been conferred the “Banaag Award,” in this year’s Pamana ng Pilipino Award held in Malacañang, the Philippine’s presidential palace.

The PWC, according to the awards committee, “serves as an integral part in the statewide and nationwide movement to uplift the dignity of caregivers, fights for labor protection, and advocates for fair wages and suitable working conditions of Filipino caregivers and domestic workers in Southern California.”

The Banaag Award is conferred on Filipino individuals or organizations for their contributions that have significantly benefited or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities.

This year’s awardees were selected from a total of 96 nominations received by the CFO from 28 countries through 37 Philippine Embassies and Consulates across Asia, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Australia.

The Pamana ng Pilipino Award is given to individuals or groups “exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino,” and “have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.”

The awardees, who come from 12 countries and territories, had gone through a 4-stage selection process involving multi-sectoral representation.

FASO’s 10th anniversary

The 10th anniversary celebration of the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) is undoubtedly a milestone not only for its leadership, musicians and other members but as well as for the entire community.

The only Filipino symphony orchestra outside of the Philippines, the resilient movers of the organization deserve taps on their shoulders for keeping the music and sophistication of this art for present and future generations of Filipino Americans.

Led by conductor and musical director Robert “Bob” Schroder, the orchestra held a concert last November 3 at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale.

The show was fittingly titled: FASO@10: A Decade of Music, Harmony and Community.

Guest performers included Joey Albert, Pete Avendaño, Joan Cano, Kit Navarro, FASO Children’s Ensemble and Alumni, Holy Family Filipino Chorale, Pacific Vocal Artists, Philippine Chamber Singers-Los Angeles and the Waraynon Initiative Network (WIN) Chorale.

Trillanes, Alejano visit LA

In February, Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes held a series of meetings with Filipino American community leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Among the issues that he discussed during the said meetings were the alleged human rights violations in the Philippines and supposed helplessness of the Philippine government to stop the relentless incursions of China into our territories.

The town hall meetings were organized by the Filipino American Human Rights Alliance (FAHRA) at the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) building in the LA’s historic Filipinotown.

Trillanes said there is nothing wrong with having friendly relations with China but “there should be a line,” adding that the government should have filed diplomatic protests whenever it saw its territorial jurisdiction are violated.

As an offshoot of Trillanes’ visit, a group of Filipino Americans organized a chapter of Samahang Magdalo in Los Angeles.

In November, Trillanes’ opposition ally and fellow military mutineer, Rep. Gary Alejano, came to Los Angeles and inducted the first ever set of officers of the Samahang Magdalo International (US-California Chapter) in the City of Lakewood, a suburb in Los Angeles County.

Gen. Bato comes to LA, triggers protest

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa visited the historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles on Thursday (December 13) and sought the support of Filipino American leaders in southern California for his bid to win a seat in the Senate of the Philippines.

Dela Rosa was primarily hosted by the Rotary Club of the Historic Filipinotown led by its president Macky Fortu.

In his speech, Dela Rosa said he decided to run for a seat in the Philippine Senate so he could help out President Rodrigo Duterte realize his visions for the country.

Two days later, Filipino Americans, separated by their opposing political alliances, faced off in front of a Filipino restaurant in the Historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles last Saturday (December 15).

The tension-filled confrontation prompted Los Angeles City policemen to rush to the scene. Six police cars were deployed and a helicopter was seen hovering above while the commotion was on going.

The members of Malaya Movement, Filipino American Human Rights Alliance and the Samahang Magdalo-USA, which were politically distinct human rights advocacy groups, trooped to the Bahay Kubo Restaurant on Temple Street after they were tipped off that former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa was coming to a fund-raising Christmas party hosted by a blogger known as Maharlika.

Remedy Medina, Samahang Magdalo-US-California chapter president, said they peacefully dispersed according to the time limit granted in the permit issued to them by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Pinoy church vies for “historical monument status”

A retired Philippine ambassador and career diplomat recently led a group of Filipino Americans in lobbying for the elevation of the Filipino Disciples Christian Church to the status of “historic cultural monument” at the US federal level.

Rodolfo Dumapias joined a group of Filipino Americans at the Los Angeles City Hall last October 26 in a hearing called by the California State Historical Resources Commission.

Dumapias, was born in Manila but came to US when he was a kid with his parents, who were also diplomats, and his siblings. He grew up in Los Angeles and attended junior high, high school and college at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) for his graduate studies.

The retired diplomat told the members of the state historical commission that he was a youth leader and an active participant in Filipino-American community affairs in the 1960’s. He went on to testify that the

Filipino Christian Church, now called Filipino Disciples

Christian Church, had been instrumental in the establishment of the “social and cultural foundation

upon which a humble ethnic community blossomed into what is now Historic Filipino-town.”

According to Dumapias, the founders of the L.A. Philippine Women’s Club and its junior unit, the L.A. Philippine Junior Women’s Club, were active members of the Filipino Christian Church since its beginning.

The said organization just recently celebrated its 57th founding anniversary.

Vets annual Hollywood march returns to Filipinotown

The annual march that seeks justice for Filipino World War II veterans, which has been known as “Hollywood march for justice,” has returned to the historic Filipinotown in Los Angeles.

The City of West Hollywood has refused to issue rally permit to the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), the prime mover of the yearly demonstration.

One of the leaders of JFAV leader Art Garcia said the city denied permit to the yearly event due to the supposed “chaos and traffic snarls” that it supposedly create in the areas where the rally passes through.

Despite the change in venue, the march still managed to draw out a large contingent of Filipino American youths, numbering around 300.

The marchers gathered in the morning at MacArthur Park on Wilshire Boulevard. The march snaked through Filipinotown streets and ended at the headquarters of the Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) at Temple Street.

SIPA executive director Lyle del Mundo was among those who spoke during an hour-long program inside the SIPA compound.

Garcia said the return of the Justice for Filipino Veterans March at SIPA constituted a full historical cycle for the movement that started in the same place (SIPA headquarters) on December 16, 1998.

RP’s Wish Bus 107.5 duplicated in LA

The Philippines’ iconic radio bus, known as the Wish Bus 107.5, has been duplicated in Los Angeles — a city known as the world’s entertainment capital.

The choice of Filipino American YouTube sensation AJ Rafael as the Wish bus USA’s first performer on board provided a somewhat encapsulated message as to the purpose of the gargantuan undertaking.

AJ Rafael performed with three other musicians inside the Wish Bus 107.5 amidst posters of the Philippine Air Lines (PAL) in the backdrop.

Rafael’s group was the only band that played inside the Wish Bus 107.5 as the rest of the performers did their acts on the Universal Citywalk’s performance stage.

Since then, local artists, particularly Filipino American artists, have guested on the Wish Bush which moves to other places aside from its regular spot along Hollywood Boulevard.

(Note: In general, this writer gave preference to news stories that happen within our local areas of coverage wherein most of our news makers and readers reside.)

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Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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