Fil-Ams provide input on citywide survey of community landmarks
THE City of Los Angeles boasts a rich history of Filipinos and their profound impact on Angeleno culture.
Since the immigration influx at the turn of the century, Filipinos began migrating to the U.S., many of them settling in the LA area.
Currently, LA is home to the largest population of Filipinos outside of the Philippines with more than 374,000 Filipinos residing in the LA County, according to the 2010 census.
As a way to record the city’s cultural history, the City of LA Office of Historic Resources (OHR), the Architectural Resources Group (ARG) SurveyLA have begun collecting more information from five of the city’s Asian American communities: Chinese-American, Filipino-American, Japanese-American, Korean-American and Thai-American.
With this information, the city’s plan is to establish “historic context” documents that will provide identification of sites that are culturally significant to these Asian groups.
The OHR was awarded a $72,000 Underrepresented Communities Grant from the National Parks Service (NPS) to conduct the wide-ranging project. The city is looking to develop these historic context statements to develop a national register nomination to the NPS.
With the help of the Filipino-American community, the city is looking to identify historically significant neighborhoods, commercial areas, residences among other landmarks that are still standing today and had been utilized by the community between 1900 to 1980.
While Historic Filipinotown is the geographically-designated center for Filipinos, the city is looking for historically significant businesses, organizations, trends, activities, movements, and people in all areas of LA, Jan Zatorski, deputy director of the Department of City Planning, said at a community forum for the historic context statement for Fil-Ams.
Filipino-Americans of all enterprises — business, religious institutions, community organization and the arts — gathered at the Edendale Branch Library on Saturday, April 8 to learn more about the project, as well as to provide any information for the project organizers and consultants.
Each of these entities must address the following “themes”: civil rights and civil liberties, commercial development, cultural development and institutions, deed restriction and segregation, labor history, religion and spirituality and social clubs and organizations.
Long-time resident of Westlake Ronald Bonilla applauded the city for taking a step toward recognizing the Filipino influence of the city.
“I don’t think many people realize how impactful Filipinos were and are in Los Angeles, and it’s nice to see [the city] make some kind of account of our history here,” Bonilla, 45, told the Asian Journal.
Bonilla is a native Angeleno and second-generation Filipino American. Bonilla worries that the “influx of gentrifiers” in the city will wash away much of the city’s ethnic heritages, but he hopes that this project will help solidify and strengthen the cultural ties.
“I hope that this will bring more recognition and attention to, not just Filipinos here, but to Asian Americans in general,” Bonilla added. “Gentrification is a big problem, but it’s not a problem without a solution.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJ Press)