‘Our Guiding Star’: Cultural gateway installed in LA’s Historic Filipinotown

GUIDING STAR INTO HIFI. The highly-anticipated gateway marking the entrance of Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown was installed on Friday, April 1. The Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway Project, named “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star,” which began construction in 2021 along the eastern entrance of Beverly Boulevard, will be publicly unveiled in during a community event in May 2022 to mark Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Designed by Filipino artists Eliseo Art Silva — whose work includes the “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural in HiFi’s Unidad Park — and Celestino Geronimo, Jr., the gateway has design elements giving a nod to Filipino culture and its roots in Historic Filipinotown. | Photo courtesy of LA Board of Public Works Commissioner Jessica Caloza

THE next time you drive through Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown, there’s a new landmark to see as the long-awaited gateway was installed on Friday, April 1.

The eastern entrance of Beverly Boulevard is now home to the Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway, officially named “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star.”

Standing 30 feet high and spanning 82 feet wide, the gateway features the work of Filipino artists Eliseo Art Silva and Celestino Geronimo, Jr. Blocks from the gateway is Silva’s “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural in Unidad Park.

The gateway has design elements that illustrate Filipino culture and its roots in Historic Filipinotown.

Among the symbols include the parol (star-shaped lantern associated with Christmastime), the gumamela flower also known as hibiscus, which pays tribute to frontline workers; and the sarimanok (a legendary bird in Maranao art that symbolizes good fortune).

The construction has a price tag of $587,000, according to a previous report from the Asian Journal.

“This project has been a labor of love by so many people in Historic Filipinotown. This beautiful, historic landmark will be a source of pride for the Filipino community, and will rightfully celebrate this vibrant neighborhood and the incredible contributions Filipino Americans make to the City of Los Angeles,” Councilmember O’Farrell, who represents HiFi, said last February.

The eastern entrance of Beverly Boulevard is now home to the Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway, officially named “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star.” | Photo courtesy of LA Board of Public Works Commissioner Jessica Caloza

In 2018, through a Council motion, O’Farrell committed an initial $152,000 for the Eastern Gateway Project and then identified additional funding for the completion of the landmark. With full funding finally secured, the community and local organizations helped guide the process which led to design renderings that were released in June 2020. Construction began in March 2021.

“The key to building and enhancing the beautiful neighborhood we all know as Historic Filipinotown has always been community. The community has long advocated for more visibility and was committed to bringing the Eastern Gateway to life,” said LA Board of Public Works Commissioner Jessica Caloza, who played a leading role in the project.

A public community event highlighting the gateway is slated to be scheduled in May in time for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

“Our community finally had a ‘win’ in 2002, when the City Council, under the leadership of then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti, officially designated a 2.5 square mile area just west of downtown Los Angeles as Historic Filipinotown,” said Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, community leader and Building and Safety Commissioner with the City of Los Angeles. “20 years later, we have another win: a majestic Eastern Gateway to Historic Filipinotown will rise on Beverly Boulevard! This was hard won – the result of 40 years of community advocacy getting key champions along the way, including this chapter today, from the City of Los Angeles and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.”

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