Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown will soon have a gateway structure to welcome visitors into the neighborhood and to honor the contributions of Filipino Americans in the city.
The Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway Project, named “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star,” will be placed along the stretch of Beverly Boulevard that designates the neighborhood. It is set to be unveiled sometime later this year, though an official date has yet to be announced.
Designed by Fil-Am artist Eliseo Art Silva — whose work includes the “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural in HiFi’s Unidad Park — the renderings show a teal gateway with yellow sides bearing symbols including, the parol (star-shaped lantern), the gumamela (hibiscus flower), and the sarimanok (a legendary bird in Maranao art that symbolizes good fortune).
After years of planning and community input, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s office worked with the city’s Board of Public Works, under the leadership of Commissioner Jessica Caloza, and Silva for the design.
“Once completed later this year, Historic Filipinotown will have a landmark that authentically showcases the beauty and storied history of the Filipino community,” O’Farrell, whose district includes the neighborhood, said in a statement.
The announcement for the project came alongside the celebration of the 122nd Philippine Independence Day on Friday, June 12.
“The Eastern Gateway pays tribute to both the legacy and the bright future of the Filipino American community in the City of Los Angeles,” the release added.
An estimated 10,000 Filipino Americans continue to reside in the neighborhood, while over 600,000 Fil-Ams are said to live in the greater Los Angeles area.
“The key to building and enhancing the beautiful neighborhood we all know as Historic Filipinotown has always been community. The community has worked hard and was committed to bringing the Eastern Gateway to life, and with Councilmember O’Farrell’s leadership, we are finally making it happen,” said Caloza in a statement. “Being the first historic cultural designation in the U.S. for the Filipino American community means so much to us in Los Angeles. As a first-generation Filipina American, I am so proud to see us celebrate and recognize our diversity and continue building it into the fabric of our city.”
Silva, whose work includes the iconic “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural featuring Fil-Am figures like Larry Itliong, was tasked with creating design renderings for the gateway, which will span across Beverly Boulevard, near his aforementioned mural at Unidad Park.
“This magnificent new gateway will welcome everyone to Historic Filipinotown. It’s a fitting tribute to the many courageous men and women on the front lines — brave warriors such as our numerous Filipino health care workers. The gateway not only signals that Filipino Americans have finally arrived, it also symbolizes the valor of the front-liners in our city,” Silva said.
O’Farrell committed $152,000 for the gateway in 2018, according to a release, and subsequently committed a total of $452,000 through cost savings on another project. The gateway is included in the Board of Public Works’ plans to “improve the 1st Street Bridge with seismic retrofit and lane enhancements,” the release said.
Historic Filipinotown became the first designated area honoring Filipinos outside of the Philippines when then-councilmember Eric Garcetti proposed a city resolution in August 2002.
Though Filipinos in Southern California have since settled in other enclaves, such as Carson, Cerritos and West Covina, Historic Filipinotown was considered one of the first areas where Filipinos settled in the early part of the 20th century.
In addition to the gateway, O’Farrell has championed other cultural projects, such as the street light installations featuring Filipino designs to improve pedestrian safety.