LA City Hall marks Filipino American History Month

FILIPINO American History Month kicked off on Friday, September 30 as Los Angeles City councilmembers and community leaders came together to honor Fil-Ams who are excelling in various fields from food to political advocacy.

The LA Filipino Association of City Employees (LAFACE) — in partnership with Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Mitch O’ Farrell and Jose Huizar, and Board of Public Works Commissioner Joel Jacinto — recognized FilAm Arts, which marks its 25th anniversary this year; Ruby de Vera (political and community advocacy); Rembrandt Flores (entertainment); Gina Alexander (entrepreneurship); and The Park’s Finest (food).

“It is my great pleasure to honor five Angeleno powerhouses who have helped shape Filipino-American history in Los Angeles through their impressive contributions through their various areas of expertise,” LAFACE President Rea Lazo said.

She added that having examples of successful Fil-Ams would “inspire younger Fil-Ams to dream bigger.”

LA is home to the largest concentration of Filipinos outside the Philippines at more than 300,000 Filipinos residing in LA County.

Cedillo and O’Farrell led a presentation at a city council meeting wherein they awarded the five honorees with certificates and presented Philippine Consul General Adelio Angelito Cruz with a resolution marking October as Fil-Am History Month.

“I’m particularly proud to be here today as the representative of Historic Filipinotown, a neighborhood that has been home to Filipinos since the 1940s and served as a gateway for many Filipino immigrants in Los Angeles,” Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the city’s 13th council district, said in his remarks inside the City Council chambers.

Cedillo noted that FilAm Arts is “a leading presenter of tradition and emerging Filipino-American artists and art forms in Southern California.” On Saturday, October 8, FilAm Arts will host the 25th year of the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) at Echo Park Lake.

The Park’s Finest, a Filipino-inspired BBQ restaurant in Historic Filipinotown, was hailed for being an “incredible force to be reckoned with in the ongoing Filipino food revolution.”

Mel Orpilla, immediate past president of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FAHNS), was present at the event and shared a brief history of when Filipinos first came to the United States.

“History ties us to our communities — that’s why we have a Historic Filipinotown. It gives us a sense of pride in knowing where we’ve been, how far we’ve come. But it also gives us a chance to learn about our history,” Orpilla said.

The month-long commemoration of Filipino-American history was first instituted by FAHNS in 1988.

Throughout October, various Fil-Am groups will be hosting events in Los Angeles and greater Southern California. The Los Angeles and Pasig Rivers will sign a Sister River Agreement later this month, Jacinto announced.

On Sunday, October 23, the Filipino American History Month Los Angeles Coalition is hosting a “diverse array of intergenerational and trans-intercontinental talent” at the Greek Theater. Performers include Gary V and his son Gab Valenciano, R&B group Kai, YouTube sensation AJ Rafael and “The Voice” Season 9 artist Tim Atlas, among others.

Actor Nico Santos from NBC’s new sitcom “Superstore” host the show, and culinary masterminds including Kristine de la Cruz and Lynne Tolentino will be onsite whipping up delicious Asian food for the attendees.

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