MoTHER confers IMMA Recognition to 13 moms on Mother’s Day in Historic Filipinotown

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by MoTHER Staff

Emotions soared at the community celebration of Mother’s Day organized by the International MoTHER Movement on Saturday, May 18th at the Pilipino Workers Center Larry Itiliong Village in Historic Filipinotown (HiFi). The certificates were signed by the co-chairs and attested by MoTHER global honorary chairwoman Dyan Kristine Miranda Pastrana who is the Director for Authentication Division, Department of Foreign Affairs

Thirteen mothers were proudly honored with IMMA (International Mother Movement Award) for raising children who have made remarkable achievements, contributing to a better world. Led by founder-chairperson Perla Bermudez Santos, the movement, known as MoTHER, took into account the awardees’ children’s accomplishments as the primary criteria for granting the awards. The aim was to galvanize others to follow the example of these exceptional mothers.

The awardees were Salvacion Arugay, accompanied by her daughter Ma. Alnee A. Gamble,  the Deputy Consul-General/Acting Head of Post of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles; Gigi Caloza, accompanied by Jessica Caloza, a women’s rights advocate running for assembly member for the 52nd District of Los Angeles. She has served as an education policy advisor to President Barack Obama, as an LA Public Works Commissioner, and most recently for California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Jesusita Del Rosario was represented by her daughter, Aileen Michael, who was with Jennifer Taylor, board president of the trade organization Filipinos in Institution Real Estate (FIRE), as well as board president of the multicultural youth group Swirls for Girls, and is a real estate advisor and board VP emeritus to one of the oldest and largest Filipino CBO’s, Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA). She recently joined the board of Filipinos Advancing Creative Education (FACE) and is the founder of the HiFi Coalition, among her many affiliations.

Jhonalyn was accompanied by her daughter, Ysabella Loyola, an 11-year-old multi-awarded singer, songwriter, recording artist, and actress. Loyola is one of the Top 75 Most Influential Filipino Americans of 2023 and has performed the national anthems at major sporting events for the LA Clippers, LA Dodgers, LA Kings, LA Angels, and twice for the LA Lakers. Ysabella has released ‘Late August’, a song she wrote herself last year. Additionally, she collaborated on a remake of the song ‘What the World Needs Now’ with Netflix star Journey Christine from the TV series ‘The Upshaws’.

Raquel Mejia was with her youngest son Kenneth Mejia, the 33-year-old City Controller of Los Angeles, the first Filipino elected official in Los Angeles.

Ester Pulido was with Mark Emmanuel Pulido who has devoted more than 40 years of his life to community organizing and public service. This includes serving two terms as a Council Member and Mayor of the City of Cerritos, among other positions. Mark retired early last year after working in local, state, and federal government for 26 years. He concluded his tenure as the highest-ranking Filipino American staff member of the 117th Congress.

Cora Oriel was introduced by her niece Gloria Pulido on behalf of Cora’s daughters, Christina, Carina and Catherine. All 3 daughters are deeply involved in humanitarian projects empowering communities through their specialties – financial education and journalism . Christina Oriel  is an award-winning editor and communications strategist. She is currently the Vice President of Sales and Operations at Bayani Pay, a digital financial service with the mission of enabling borderless banking for global Filipinos. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, major in Political Communication from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Carina Oriel is the current Head of Rise in New York. Rise is the global fintech ecosystem of Barclays Bank. She graduated from Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, major in Finance and Fintech. Catherine Oriel is a Lead Producer at Forbes Media in Washington D.,C. She is a summa cum laude graduate of The George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, major in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Fe Israel Wiest’s daughter Core Destura Suan  is known for her environmental programs and pollution prevention efforts, which have led to the Philippine Ports Authority of Cagayan de Oro winning the prestigious Green Port Award system from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) since 2018. This achievement has placed the port of Cagayan De Oro on par with other APEC countries such as Singapore, China, and Malaysia. It’s worth noting that it’s the only port in the Philippines to have received 2 Green Port Awards (GPAs). Consequently, she was funded to travel to London and other countries in Asia to share her environmental story.

Two of the IMMA awardees and their daughters, Norma Jorge Lapid and Ethelina Provido, were unable to attend the event. Their daughters are Arleen Penaflor and Ronajane Provido, respectively.

Three posthumously awarded mothers, Ruby De Vera, Belen Maniquis Fuentes, and Catalina Nosal Cervantes, were represented by their children Theresa May de Vera, Edith Maniquis Fuentes, and Roberto “Bob” C. Garcia.

Theresa sustained a life-altering injury and discovered her passion for advocating for disability rights. From 2005 to 2020, she served on the LA City Commission on Disability. She was appointed to the Access Services Board of Directors, where she currently serves as the Board Chair. Theresa has been recognized at the federal, state, and local levels for her advocacy work.

Fuentes was a past board member of the United Architects of the Philippines Southern California Chapter (UAPSoCAL) and a past president and executive board member of the Filipino American Business Association of Glendale (FABAG-GLAC). Currently, Fuentes is serving as a planning commissioner for the City of Glendale and as a board of director at YMCA of Glendale. Additionally, Fuentes has served as the past region governor of Soroptimist International of the Americas Camino Real Region and as the past club president of Soroptimist International of Glendale.

Roberto “Bob” C. Garcia is the multicultural development officer of the Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) in Queensland, Australia. Part of his job is to ensure that newly arrived migrants or skilled workers have what they need. He was also instrumental in making Toowoomba a Refugee Welcome Zone in 2014. He joined the event virtually as part of the hybrid awards ceremony  from Toowoomba, Queensland in Australia.  Also joining on the zoom from the Philippines was nominator Rodolfo Estimo, an international journalist now based in the Philippines.

Ysabel Jurado also attended the event.  Her late mom, Jocelyn Jurado was posthumously awarded the IMMA 2023. Ysabel is a lawyer running for the District 14 Councilmember position.

The Tribute to All Mothers program began at 2:00 pm. All the mothers in attendance were presented with a free corsage and a rose, and the audience applauded them. At 3:00 pm, the Star Spangled Banner was led by Tess Nones, a MoTHER Committee member; the Philippine National Anthem was rendered by Elizabeth San Diego, the co-emcee and co-chair of IMMA. The invocation and blessing of all mothers was done by Fr. Eusebio Llonoso, Associate Pastor of Our Lady of Loretto Church and the St. Columban’s Filipino Church. The opening and welcome address was delivered by Malou Miravite Villacisneros, representing collaborator PWC Executive Director Aquilina Versoza Soriano, who was out of town.

A duet of “Iingatan Ka,” dedicated to all the mothers, was performed by Jhonalyn and Ysabella. Eusebio “Bing” San Diego composed and recited a poem titled “Inang Mahal,” followed by a dance performance to the tunes of “Mother of Christ” and “Paruparong Bukid” by the Committee choreographed by Cres Go.. The event also included a profile of MoTHER and TLC Family Caregiver Support Group advocacy, presentation of the Committee members that included Nena Ruiz and Debra Romig;  followed by the introduction of the guest speaker, Hon. Alnee Gamble, by Perla Santos. While having their refreshments, the mothers and their guests were serenaded with songs including “Mama” (Il Divo) by Cres Go, a duet of “For Mama” by Rosito Go and Jessie Ruiz, and “Dakila ka Inay” by Ike Rongavilla. n

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