LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Government held the colorful opening ceremonies for the 2013 Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) Heritage Month on Friday, May 10, at the LA City Hall South Plaza.
In attendance were various city hall officials and representatives from different APIA community organizations, lending their presence to the annual event that celebrates cultural diversity in LA.
Attractions at the event featured free Asian cuisine food, community-based organizations, and cultural performances from the Manea Dancers, Music LA, Harmony Dance, Korean Classic Music and Dance Company, Myanmar Dancers, and Bollywood Dancers.
Little participation from Pinoys
However, much to the dismay of Consul General Maria Hellen Barber – De La Vega , the Filipino community was not well represented in the festivities.
There was indeed very little participation from Pinoys in the event. In the program itself and the food booths, Filipino culture was not featured prominently.
Even in actual turnout for the event, there was only a handful of Filipinos who came to the event, aside from the Consul General herself. Most of the Pinoys who dropped by were city hall employees on lunch break.
De La Vega, who had to leave right away for another engagement, said that the Filipino associations of LA County and LA City employees should come together and ‘show their numbers’ in these kinds of events.
The consul general also noted that the Philippine tourism and trade offices in LA, the Philippine Consulate General in LA, the Filipino community should make a better representation for next year’s festivities.
“I got to know about it quite late,” said De La Vega in a text message to the Asian Journal.
She said that the consulate must get in touch with the organizing entity for next year’s APIA Heritage Month celebrations so that the community can be better represented in the festivities.
She hopes that next year, a Filipino group can do the opening number for the event.
Filipino-American Dominik said that it is “disappointing” that there are not a lot of Filipinos in the event program.
However, having met several Filipinos during the activities, she said that there is still a considerable amount of representaiton of Filipinos in the city employees and the Pinoys from downtown LA, who passed by city hall on Friday.
APIA luminaries honored
The ceremonies started with the Mayor’s procession, marching along with the lively Maori dancers.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was supposed to attend the event, was not present because of other commitments.
In his stead, newly-installed Public Works Commissioner Warren Furutani participated in the procession. Furutani also delivered the remarks and presentation of honorees on behalf of Villaraigosa.
Furutani lauded the ‘unparalleled’ diversity in LA, and noted that Asian Americans are well represented in Congress and in the city government.
He also hinted that as much as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a part of the fabric of the City of Los Angeles and of the City Government, the community still has yet to make a mark in the City Council.
Furutani, who lost to Joe Buscaino in a bid for the City Council District (CD) 15 seat, said that “there is one place where we need someone who looks like us to be sitting there.”
“Let me say it again, there is one place where we need someone that looks like us sitting at that horse shoe,” Furutani reiterated.
After his remarks, Furutani presented the three honorees of the ceremonies.
He lauded each of them for their work in promoting the APIA heritage and culture.
The three awardees included LA Conservation Corps Executive Director Bruce Saito, Jet Tila of Iron Chef America, and LA 18 / KCIS – TV.
Furutani said that in LA 18, once a viewer turns on the channel, he or she would hear so many different languages spoken, telling so many different stories.
Deane Leavenworth of Time Warner Cable, a major sponsor of the event, said that celebrating diversity is important because learning from each others’ cultures makes us stronger.
(LA Midweek May 15-17, 2013 Sec. A pg.1)