October is a significant month for Filipino Americans as it marks their rich history and presence in the United States. The 2023 Filipino American History Month was celebrated with a banquet at the Great Wall Cuisine in Phoenix, highlighting this history and the community’s enduring contributions.
The event, organized by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) of Arizona, commenced with an invocation by Leonardo Aromin, followed by the U.S. and Philippine National Anthems led by Jode Philbrook. Evelyn Casuga, the President of FANHS-AZ, initiated the evening with heartening remarks about the significance of the celebration.
Esteemed community members like Lonnie Patubo, Leonardo Aromin, Dr. James Campbell, Marinor Condes, and Ethel Luzario-Smith shared insights about the evolution and meaningful contributions of the Filipino community in Arizona. Patubo emphasized the importance of personal stories, spanning from early settlers to today’s set of diverse professionals.
The cultural segment was highlighted by the FAST OF AZ Dance Troupe who presented traditional Filipino dances.
As part of the evening’s purpose, a dedicated awards ceremony was held to honor and recognize the notable achievements and contributions of Filipino Americans in Arizona:
- Ramon Quema & Sammy Quema: Two pioneering Filipinos, born in Arizona in the 1950s, were celebrated for their continued active involvement in the community.
- Jhen Facto-Aquino: Lauded with the Community Leadership Award for her exceptional leadership as the 2023 CFO-AZ President.
- Edward Lago: Saluted as the first Filipino American in Arizona to found and lead ‘Our Community Mortgage’ which was launched recently.
- Filipino Club of Arizona (FCA): Recognized as an enduring pillar in the community, actively engaging in numerous community events.
- Philippine Nurses Association of Arizona (PNAAZ): Celebrated for its longstanding role as an early association of Filipino nurses, consistently active in various community initiatives.
- Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (PACCA): Honored as the initial Chamber of Commerce for the AZ Filipino community and remains a proactive participant in community events.
- Halo-Halo Kitchen Restaurant: Commended as a forerunner in promoting Filipino cuisine and significantly backing AZ Filipino community initiatives.
- Dr. James Campbell: Distinguished as a retired Filipino-American veteran, holding the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, who remains an engaged member of the AZ Filipino-American Community.
- Rikka Ren Garcia & Karl Matthew Abalos Alcance: Both were celebrated as the 2023 Summa Cum Laude graduates from the Arizona State University in Nursing and Computer Science Engineering, respectively.
Evelyn Casuga’s concluding remarks highlighted the unity and strength of the Filipino community in Arizona. Leonardo Aromin emphasized the profound impact of the awards in charting the community’s story.