THE highly-anticipated gateway marking the entrance of Historic Filipinotown is slated to be unveiled in May, according to an update from Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s office.
In a release sent on February, February 25, O’Farrell, whose district covers Historic Filipinotown, said the Eastern Gateway will be installed and publicly unveiled in time for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May.
“After many years, countless meetings, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I’m proud to share that the Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway will be installed and unveiled this spring,” O’Farrell in a statement. “This project has been a labor of love by so many people in Historic Filipinotown. This beautiful, historic landmark will be a source of pride for the Filipino community, and will rightfully celebrate this vibrant neighborhood and the incredible contributions Filipino Americans make to the City of Los Angeles.”
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the City of LA commissioned the gateway, named “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star,” to be placed along the stretch of Beverly Boulevard that designates the eastern entrance into the neighborhood.
Designed by Filipino artists Eliseo Art Silva — whose work includes the “Gintong Kasaysayan” mural in HiFi’s Unidad Park — and Celestino Geronimo, Jr., the gateway has design elements giving a nod to Filipino culture and its roots in Historic Filipinotown.
Among the symbols include the parol (star-shaped lantern associated with Christmastime), the gumamela flower also known as hibiscus, which pays tribute to frontline workers; and the sarimanok (a legendary bird in Maranao art that symbolizes good fortune).
The construction has a price tag of $587,000, according to the councilmember’s office, and will rise 30 feet high and span 82 feet across Beverly Boulevard at the entrance.
LA Board of Public Works Commissioner Jessica Caloza, the first Filipina American on the commission who was integral in the planning of the gateway, said it is a part of LA’s investments in “projects that uplift underrepresented communities.”
“The key to building and enhancing the beautiful neighborhood we all know as Historic Filipinotown has always been community. The community has long advocated for more visibility and was committed to bringing the Eastern Gateway to life, and thanks to Councilmember O’Farrell’s leadership and all our community partners, we are almost at the finish line,” said Caloza said in a statement.
The effort to install a landmark at the eastern entrance to Historic Filipinotown has been in the works for nearly two decades, beginning with a community study of Historic Filipinotown improvements commissioned in March 2003 by then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti, according to the release.
“Our community finally had a ‘win’ in 2002, when the City Council, under the leadership of then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti, officially designated a 2.5 square mile area just west of downtown Los Angeles as Historic Filipinotown,” said Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, local community leader and Building and Safety Commissioner with the City of Los Angeles. “20 years later, we have another win: a majestic Eastern Gateway to Historic Filipinotown will rise on Beverly Boulevard! This was hard won — the result of 40 years of community advocacy getting key champions along the way, including this chapter today, from the City of Los Angeles and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.”
In 2018, through a Council motion, O’Farrell committed an initial $152,000 for the Eastern Gateway Project and then identified additional funding for the completion of the landmark. With full funding finally secured, the community helped guide the process which led to design renderings that were released in June 2020. Construction began in March 2021.
Community leaders and community-based organizations, including longtime legacy non-profits in Historic Filipinotown such as the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), and Filipino American Service Group, Inc (FASGI), also took part in the planning process.
“Pilipino Workers Center is excited and proud of being a part of the collective process to make this HiFi gateway project a reality!” said Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director of Pilipino Workers Center (PWC). “It really took a robust collaboration of community and city officials to accomplish the completion of the eastern HiFi gateway project. The gateway is a great project for creating visibility for the Filipino American community in HiFi and Los Angeles. That visibility gives organizations like PWC more power to lift up the issues our community is facing.”
Currently, a 3D model of the installation is displayed at O’Farrell’s District Office along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.
An estimated 10,000 Filipino Americans continue to reside in Historic Filipinotown, while over 600,000 Fil-Ams are said to live in the greater Los Angeles area, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.
“Our community has been waiting for this for so long, and we are so excited,” said Cecile Ramos, longtime community leader. “Dreams do come true! As someone who has lived and worked in this neighborhood for many years, I am grateful that our beautiful community is being celebrated for its contributions to our great city.”