As far back as in the 1930s, a group of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles have seen this need for FilAms to band together for more empowerment. Believing that in unity there is strength, these group of Pinoys in Los Angeles used to meet at a small Filipino restaurant on San Pedro St. (now part of Little Tokyo). They met to discuss ways of organizing themselves to be a voice in the city. World War II,however, delayed their plans.
But right after the war, on April 26, 1945, the group registered with the State of California as the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA). It is the first, and thus, the oldest Filipino-American association recognized by the Federal government.
Since then, for more than 60 years, FACLA has served the Filipino American community in Los Angeles. Its home at 1740 West Temple St., Los Angeles 90026, inaugurated in 1965, has been the favorite venue for meetings and special occasions of the Pinoy community, such as the annual Filipino-American Veterans’ Day.
On the walls of the FACLA Social Hall is an odd dozen framed photographs of past FACLA presidents. Unfortunately, a fire in the late 1970s had destroyed most of the records of FACLA, including a complete record of its past presidents and members. Among the past presidents, however, a couple of names that stand out are those of Ben Manibog and Mrs. Remedios Geaga. A four-term FACLA president (1974 to 1977), Geaga is best known in FACLA for launching the senior citizen nutrition program.
“In my search for FACLA records and copies of documents, I asked friends and even the children of the past presidents to help,” reported Bobby Reyes, FACLA’s current Secretary-General. This effort proved futile, prompting Reyes to think that coming up with a book about FACLA that will also tell the history of Filipinos in Los Angeles from the 1940s might be a worthwhile project. Hopefully, the project would push in the immediate future for the 60 year history of the oldest organization of Filipino Americans in Los Angeles would surely benefit not only the organization but the total FilAm community as well.