Celebrating Fil-Am achievements at the Fremont Public Library

I am always grateful for October, not just because I enjoy autumn but because this month is Filipino-American History Month – a time when our community celebrates the achievements of Filipino-Americans and remembers the contributions to our history in the United States. Across the country, many Fil-Am communities are hosting or hosted events, from the Fil-Am Community of Western North Carolina’s first ever Mabuhay Blueridge: A Celebration of Fil-Am History Month slated for October 25th, to Livermore, California’s 4th Annual Filipino Barrio Fiesta, which was held on Sunday, October 6th.

This year, Vicky Santos, trustee of the Filipino-American National Historical Society, put together a wonderful event at the Fremont Public Library (thanks to librarian Marianne!) this past Sunday. This year’s theme was aptly named Pinay Visionaries: Celebrating Filipina-American Women. Throughout the afternoon, several visionary pinays were honored (see captions), including Vangie Buell, Filipina activist, award-winning author, and musician (who was in San Francisco at the time receiving another award) and the late Dr. Dawn Mabalon, Filipina academic, scholar, historian, and community activist and leader. I joined fellow authors Janet Stickmon, author of the recently published To Black Parents Visiting Earth, and Lisa Suguitan Melnik, author of #30 Collantes Street and contributor to The New Filipino Kitchen, in giving a reading. Dr. James Sobredo, Professor Emeritus of Ethnic Studies at Sacramento State University, presented his photo-journalism exhibition, Filipino Transnational Immigration: Images and Stories from the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Barcelona. Singer Alice Rancap and guitarist Joseph Duyanen serenaded us with a repertoire of Filipino folk songs, and I was pleasantly surprised to remember a few of them from my childhood.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I missed capturing a few photos of some of the Pinay Visionaries recipients (with apologies!), but I was able to get most of them acknowledged here. I am grateful for the local Filipino-American community in the Bay Area and for the continued celebrations in October of our achievements and contributions in our communities and in America.

Poster for the event.

Lisa read her essay, entitled Ampalaya Epiphany, from The New Filipino Kitchen (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

Janet Stickmon read excerpts from her collection of essays, stories, and poems, To Black Parents Visiting Earth (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

With copies of my book after the event (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

James Sebrado talks about his travels chronicling the OFWs – Overseas Filipino Workers.

In a beautiful Filipiania embroidered blouse, Alice Rancap and guitarist Joseph Duyanen treated the audience to a number of beloved Filipino folk songs (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

FANHS trustee, author, and volunteer extraordinaire Vicky Santos (center) poses with two of the afternoon’s Pinay Visionaries recipients: Tracie Noriega (left), who is president of the Filipino American Educators Association of California, was instrumental in helping to get AB123 passed. AB123, an assembly bill sponsored by California Assembly person Rob Bonta, requires that the Fil-Am contributions to California’s labor movement be taught in the state’s K-12 schools. Tracie helped to build the curriculum and to provide support for teachers so that they can easily bring it into their classrooms. Linda Canlas (right) has been an educator, board member, and now trustee in the New Haven School District for many years. She worked, along with Tracie, for more than 10 years to recognize the contributions of Filipino-American labor leaders, Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, by having a school in the New Haven School District be renamed in Itliong and Vera Cruz’s honor. The middle school is the first school in the country to bear their names. Hopefully, we will see more schools carry on this tradition (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

Dr. Carmen Agcaoili (second from left). Dr. Agcaoili is a pulmonologist at Washington Hospital in Fremont, Calif. She is a regional vice president, representing Alameda and Contra Costa counties, of The Philippine Medical Society of Northern California, a nonprofit organization founded in 1972 and run by volunteer Filipino medical practitioners from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond Every January, a team of physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, prosthetists, students and other allied health professionals travel to various locations in the Philippines to complete a five-day mission. The organization also provides scholarships to three Filipino-American students every year. Here, Dr. Agcaoili is pictured with her husband (left), Dr. Sobredo, and Vicky (photo courtesy of Vicky Santos).

Presenters, recipients, and attendees of the Sunday celebration (courtesy of Vicky Santos).

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