by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and three FilAm business and community leaders were honored by the Filipino American Service Group, Inc., (FASGI) at a Dinner Program at the Gene Autry Museum on Griffith Park Thursday night.
Villaraigosa was given the Leader of the Year award. The FilAm honorees were Vicente “Vic” Ching (Community Service Leader of the Year), Melvin N.A. Avanzado (Advocate Leader of the Year), and Josie Jones (American Dream honoree).
“All of us have a responsibility to give so much,” Villaraigosa told some 200 guests. “When you are looking for a safety net in this city, you can find it at FASGI and the very important services that it provides the Filipino American community.”
“Leadership and public service are callings that give me so much pride and I’m honored to be the mayor of this city that has given me so much,” he added.
“Filipinos are not invisible to me. My support in this community has been wide and deep,” Villaraigosa declared. He reiterated that to keep that level of visibility, FilAms have to exercise their rights to vote. “Remember to register and vote; participate in the political process. We want people to get involved.”
The Mayor also made use of this opportunity to talk about the escalating gang violence in the city.
“When you are mayor and you see this surge in gang violence, there is a need to comment, especially when wanton violence is being caused, if you will, by undereducated and uneducated youth,” Villaraigosa said. “The Police can’t arrest its way out of gang violence. We’ve been doing that for three generations. To improve quality of life, the way is through education as there are ills that people can’t cure.”
The other awardee, Vicente Ching, is current President of Rotary Club of Historic Filipinotown and Executive Director of Contract Accounting at Paramount Pictures.
“I work in Hollywood, but not as a producer, actor or any other related fields; and I am aware that this is not the Academy Awards,” Ching said. “The award I am receiving tonight makes me very proud. However, I also consider this a challenge, an inspiration and an encouragement to do more for the community beyond today.”
“I’m truly humbled by this honor,” declared civil trial lawyer Melvin N.A. Avanzado. “FilAms have a fault, and that is we are not as adhesive as the African American and the Korean American communities. We are the largest, fastest growing ethnic community in the State. But you’d never know that because we don’t exercise the power to be heard. We have not done enough to empower the community.”
American Dream Awardee Josie Jones, CEO/Owner of Admiral Home Health Care, Inc. and Alpha Hospice Care, said “it’s overwhelming” to be an honoree.
She entered the nursing profession in 1980. “I was barely competent. I knew I had to acquire higher learning in the field of nursing. I willed myself to be hard-working because I knew that success will not come if I don’t perform at a higher level.” To be successful, we must exhibit good work ethic, dedication and leadership,” Jones said.
(FASGI, a non-profit neighborhood-based health and human care provider, was incorporated in 1981 and has grown into one of the leading independent providers of health and social services for low-income underserved Filipino American families and others in Los Angeles County. It is presently headed Susan Espiritu Dilkes, Executive Director. It is located at 135 North Park View Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)