The Hi Fi Neighborhood Council and Chamber of Commerce: Committed to an Economic Renaissance

by Rene Villaroman/AJPress
Things are looking up for Historic Filipinotown more than ever six years since Los Angeles Council President Gil Garcetti proposed its creation in a resolution he presented to the LA City Council on August 2, 2002. Hi Fi is a district of Los Angeles that lies within the communities of Echo Park and Westlake. Geographically, it is bounded by the 101 Freeway to the north, Beverly Boulevard to the south, Hoover Street to the west, and Glendale Boulevard to the east.
And if Hi Fi Neighborhood Council Treasurer Leo Pandac’s vision is to be followed, these geographical boundaries would be extended farther west of Hoover Street and father south of Beverly Boulevard. With the incorporation this month of the Historic Filipinotown Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Leo Pandac, treasurer, suggests extending the boundaries of Hi Fi by including the area along the north-south stretch of Vermont, from Third to Sixth Streets. “There are a lot of Filipino-owned businesses along that stretch,” Dr. Pandac said. He believes that including them would be beneficial for the growth that he anticipates would happen to Hi Fi during the coming decade.

One of the largest real estate developers and landholders in the Philippines, has expressed its interest in the district, according to Hi Fi Neighborhood Council President and Burlington School owner Cecille Ramos. “But the problem is that there are no more suitably-sized lots available in this district,” laments Ramos. That would mean that whichever company decides to develop here in a grand scale, that company would have to buy up existing and decrepit properties and redevelop them.

It is no coincidence that a handful of FilAm visionaries — the likes of Dr. Pandac, Jocelyn Geaga-Rosenthal, and Cecille Ramos — are still embracing hopes of an economic renaissance in this district. The Geagas had lived here during most of the 50s until the 70s, moved to another section of Los Angeles, but had the prescience to keep their Filipinotown property.  She now owns Remy’s on Temple, a gallery-boutique on Temple Street, near the corner of Alvarado St.  Although he now lives in Long Beach, Dr. Pandac retains his offices here. And Ramos, runs Burlington School, just a couple of hundred yards behind the FACLA Building. Jorge Prado, a Cuban-American who has lived here for thirty years, represents some of the Latinos who live and have business here. He is an officer of the neighborhood council.

These entrepreneurs and a handful of other FilAm volunteers are behind the annual Historic Filipinotown Festival, which will be celebrated on August 2. And this time around, the newly chartered Hi Fi Chamber of Commerce will be in the thick of the celebration.

Dr. Pandac has more on his mind. Together with provisional officers Ramos, and  Geaga-Rosenthal, they would like to attract more businessmen to this district. First off, they would like to make the district business-friendly by improving the parking situation here. Pandac said they would like to emulate Chinatown’s lead in attracting business. Secondly, the Chamber would like to construct an archway at the corner of Temple Street at Glendale Boulevard to mark the East portal of the Hi Fi district. And thirdly, Cecille Ramos reported, they would like to push through a Hi Fi NC project to hang parols (Christmas lanterns) along the length of Temple Street from Glendale Boulevard to Hoover Street beginning this coming Thanksgiving Day.

“We would like other Californians to think that this district is also a tourist destination, not just a business district,” Ramos said. This beautification and tourism-inspired project would complement HFNC’s Parol-Making Contest that it holds every Christmas season.


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