FACLA turns 74 ‘oldest Filipino organization in the country’

Angie Aramayo, Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, presents FACLA President Fernandico Q. Gonong, Jr. with a Certificate of Recognition. Photo by lvsolis
From left: Andy Edralin, Angie Aramayo, Culver City FilAm Mayor Thomas Aujero Small, former Carson Councilmember Elito Santarina, Fernandico, and former Monterey Park Mayor Mike Eng.
Filipino American Thomas Aujero Small serves as Mayor of Culver City, an ‘historic, urbanist mecca at the heart of the LA metropolis, home to Apple and Amazon Studios.’ Photo by lvsolis

LOS ANGELES – “On behalf of the City of Los Angeles,” expressed LA Mayor Eric Garcetti in his message, “I would like to congratulate the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) on its 74th anniversary. Our Filipino community is an essential thread in Los Angeles’ rich cultural tapestry. As the oldest Filipino organization in the country, the FACLA has emerged as a prominent voice for Filipino Americans in the City of Angels. I am honored and humbled to receive the Larry D. Itliong Award for Community Service, and look forward to continuing to work alongside the FACLA for years to come. I send my best wishes for a memorable event and continued success.”

The commemoration of FACLA’s 74th anniversary was held on April 26, at the Filipino Cultural Center. The evening celebration also highlighted the coronation of Little Miss FACLA, Miss Teen FACLA, Ms. FACLA, Mrs. FACLA and regional FACLA ambassadors.

BACKGROUND

“When the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles was established on April 26, 1945,” narrated Fernandico, “it made history by being the first and oldest Filipino organization established in the USA. It was registered as a non-profit 501c3 corporation in the State of California. The land was purchased through the hard-earned labor of the Delano Manongs working in the fields of Delano, Calif., and was originally intended as a halfway house for Filipinos working in the farms. The property became the central district for Filipinos and has become the cornerstone and base of the Historic Filipinotown.”

The original structure was torn down to construct a new building in 1965, according to Fernandico or ‘Jun,’ and was named the Filipino Cultural Center. It has become the hub and the community center of the Filipinos in Southern California.  For decades, the FCC has served as a community center, providing a venue for all sorts of social events such as parties, concerts, induction balls, fashion shows, wedding anniversaries, press conferences, church services and other private functions.

“After a long period of time, wear and tear took a toll on the condition of the facility,” stated Jun. “When I took office as president in 2017, we immediately started a major renovation of the interior to improve the functionality of the hall and increase the space and capacity to accommodate more than 250 people.”

In December 2017, the Center organized its “grandest fundraising event,” hosting a concert for ‘Asia’s Queen of Songs Ms. Pilita Corrales.’

“This paved way to a new beginning,” Jun added, “reminiscent of FACLA’s social, cultural and political role in the early 60s when then Calif. Gov. and later US President Ronald Reagan, Los Angeles Mayor Samuel William Yorty, together with PHL Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos, attended events in FACLA with our fellow kababayan.”

But there’s still “a lot of work to be done and more money needed to be raised to continue the renovation and improvement of the Cultural Center.” Jun asks for support from the community so they can “continue their service and leave a legacy of Filipino culture, language and spirit to the next generation.”

 

KEYNOTE

“Now, more than ever,” announced Culver City Mayor Thomas Aujero Small, “is the time for all of us of Filipino heritage to unite with each other to support and nurture our international community both here in Los Angeles and all over the world. We now have an opportunity at this historic moment to come together in strength and harmony, to bond with each other across the entire spectrum of the Philippine diaspora. Working together,” he continued, “and not at odds with each other, we can create new opportunities and a modern identity for ourselves and our children as equal and leading members of our global society.”

Andy Edralin, FAPCCA president emeritus, introduced the keynote speaker.

Mayor Small was born in Palo Alto, Calif. and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He told PNews that his mother is from Iloilo, and that she met his American father in Manila in 1946. Elected to the Culver City Council in 2016, he previously served as Commissioner of Cultural Affairs. He graduated with honors in Comparative Literature from Yale University and speaks four languages fluently. He taught Sustainability for Organizational Change at UCLA and attended graduate school at the University of Paris, and the Columbia School of Journalism. He lives with his wife Joanna Brody, and their two children and their giant sheep dog, in the “sustainably designed, much publicized home” that they built in 2007.