The Filipino American Association of Santa Clarita Valley held their 35th anniversary gala at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday.
The “Black Tie and Hollywood Glamour” themed celebration honored the history and culture of Filipinos in southern California and also highlighted the contributions of the organization’s past presidents. The event featured dinner, dancing, a photo booth, a silent auction and a cultural dance presentation.
“We’re here to celebrate the camaraderie of our past presidents and what they each did with their terms in office,” said Mul Tayoba, chairman of the gala celebration. “Every five years we gather together like this to celebrate our milestones.”
FILAMSCV began as a way for the Filipino families in the area to gather for potlucks or parties and develop a familiar community. As the Filipino population of the Santa Clarita has grown, so too has the organization, which is now recognized as a California non-profit public benefit corporation that participates in city activities, like the Fourth of July parade, the sister city program and the Santa Clarita Marathon.
“We started before Santa Clarita was even a city and though it we would be lucky to last ten years,” said Jun Gatilao, who was the third president of FILAMSCV in 1986. “Back then, we didn’t have any funds and had to do everything out of pocket, but now we can throw all of our fundraisers and we’re still going strong. I’m very proud of how this organization has grown.”
Besides celebrating the its growth, the gala was also an important opportunity for the organization to raise funds for its scholarship program.
“We raise funds for high school seniors in Santa Clarita and in the Philippines and try to help support them financially through school,” said Myra Miranda, former president of FILAMSCV. “A lot of the students we help in the Philippines are from orphanages. Events like this help us both by raising funds to support more students and also help promote our culture to Filipinos in the U.S., particularly those who were born here.”
Tayoba added that the scholarship program has already helped support multiple students through nursing school. Gatilao, Tayoba, and Miranda all emphasized that the scholarship also helps them recruit younger members, an area which the organization struggles with, particularly among American-born Filipino youth who aren’t as familiar with the culture or its importance.
For others, that shared culture and familiarity is a very welcome part of Santa Clarita.
“The organization always holds such great events and really highlight our culture and that Filipino hospitality like showcasing our cultural dances, clothing and heroes,” said Ivy Guerrero, a member of FILAMSCV since 2011. “Our culture is really known for that hospitality and that aspect of ‘bayanihan,’ which means we always feel like we’re part of a family. The Philippines was under rule by Spain, Japan, and then the United States for hundreds of years, so it’s good to have an aspect of culture that we can call our own.”