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Roaring 20’s for the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Tri-County at its ‘Gatsby Gala Induction and Ball’

Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz, leftmost, inducts officers and new members of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Tri-County (Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties).  
Special guests at FACC TC’s induction, from left: Claremont City Councilmember Jed Leano, Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz, Claremont City Mayor Corey Calaycay, Sierra Madre City Councilmember Rachelle Arizmendi, and City of Montebello Commissioner of Investments Abraham L. Lim. Photo by Art Abellada
Councilmember Arizmendi, Mayor Calaycay and Councilmember Leano pose with friends from left: Ronald Sebilo-Tibbits; Ryan Hoskins, Asian Industry B2B Operations Manager; Marc Ang, Asian Industry B2B Founder/President; and Liz Leano. Photo by lvsolis  
Rachelle with, from left: Annie Cuevas-Lim, President of Kalayaan Incorporated, Congen’s wife Catherine Amon Cruz, and Janice Jimenez, President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce SouthBay Los Angeles. Photo by Andy Edralin
FACC TC’s songbird Agnes Santos sings “Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin.” Photo by Andy Edralin 
“C’mon, Jed,” encourages Rachelle. “You can do it.” Photo by lvsolis
Showing off their dancing skills.jpg
Kaibigan Pilipinas Dance Troupe dares to wing it. Photo by lvsolis
By Lydia V. Solis
CLAREMONT, Calif. – The Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Tri-County held its ‘Gatsby Gala Induction and Ball’ on May 4, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel here.
The Gatsby theme is the brainchild of FACCTC 1st Vice President Carmela Cosio-Giliberto, inspired by the 1925 novel “The Great Gatsby,” written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel, which is considered a literary classic, has so many memorable quotes like “Money doesn’t equal happiness” and “Don’t try to be something you’re not.” A movie with the same title starred Leonardo Di Carpio in 2013.
Sworn in by inducting officer Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz were: Merwynn Montenegro, President; Carmela Giliberto, 1st VP; Gregg Vargas, 2nd VP; Ed Cansino, Secretary; and Agnes Santos, Treasurer. Board Directors include: Arthur Abellada, Elen Ramos, Ricky Villacisneros, Nick Munoz, Grace Ordiales Vaughn, Atty. Abraham Lim, Dan Nino, and author.
New members inducted were: Wells Fargo, Lucy Vela, Heidi Lam, Tessie Lightholder, Monina Tolentino, Gil Sadorra, Raquel Lacuesta, and Joseph Obligacion.
“I commend FACCTC,” stated ConGen Cruz, “for its commitment to provide resources and opportunities for businesses to contribute to the economic growth and sustainable development of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.” He mentioned that L.A. County is the third largest metropolitan economy in the world while the Inland Empire, which spans the Counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, is one of the fastest-growing regions in Southern California.
“We note the increasing interest of the business community in that region to invest in the Philippines,” he added, “and we are currently working with some institutions in San Bernardino on a big economic promotion project slated for the 5th of June.  I’m mentioning this,” he continued, “to emphasize the great potential of the regions your Chamber covers in terms of bringing trade and investment to the Philippines, while at the same time, providing you with the fertile ground to grow and nurture your business.”
The Consul General’s support for Filipino-American Chambers of Commerce is “unwavering,” he says, “because I value you as partners and allies in pursuing Philippine economic interests in our jurisdictions – in Southern California, Southern Nevada and Arizona.
Councilmember Rachelle Arizmendi, who delivered an inspirational message, was elected in 2014, to the City of Sierra Madre Council; and served as mayor in 2017. She is the first Filipino and non-white in Sierra Madre’s history to hold a City Council seat. Last year, the Filipina Women’s Network selected Rachelle ‘One of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World.’  She’s also Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), a non-profit community development organization, founded in 1976, serving over 50,000 people every year in the areas of job training and employment, business development, early education, asset building, and energy and environmental services. She served as director for 16 years.
FACCTC is a member of the Coalition of Filipino American Chambers of Commerce, along with five other Chambers. Another speaker during the Gatsby Gala was Gerry Palon, President of COFACC. He proudly announced that COFACC is a member of the National Diversity Coalition and the National Asian American Coalition, “two of the most influential minority lobby groups in the country to ensure that the voice of the various minority groups (including the Filipino Americans) are heard and represented in federal and state hearings. We have upcoming new and existing Chambers of Commerce that will soon be integrated with COFACC,” he added, “to better service the Filipino business communities across the country.”
Charter Founding President of FACCTC, Merwynn Montenegro, emphasized, during his remarks, “that this Chamber is not only for Filipino Americans despite its name. It is open to all businesses of any ethnic persuasion that is interested in supporting the needs of our citizens and communities. The FACC Tri-County,” he added, “was originally organized to rally Filipino Americans and other ethnic businesses to band together to enhance their operations and profitability and to reach out in service to their local communities. I wish to thank my many friends, supporters, sponsors and vendors who have supported the Chamber throughout its painful growing years and encouraged us to go on, particularly my De La Salle brothers who served as inspiration.” 
Merwynn was really happy to meet newly-elected Councilmember Jed Leano, who came with his wife Liz. He’s the son of Willy and Fe Leano, and was a Philippine Heritage Institute International President’s awardee: “Profiles in Service, Pillars of Community.”
Mayor Corey Calaycay, who had a previous appointment, was gracious enough to come by even for just a few minutes. FACCTC truly appreciates that! He was also a PHII President’s awardee and keynote speaker at PHII’s Youth Congress, who was introduced by Willy Leano.
The mayor has acknowledged that for the first time in 14 years on the Claremont City Council, he has lost the title of being the youngest member. “That’s an honor now bestowed on Leano,” Mayor Calaycay was quoted saying.
FACCTC treasurer Agnes Santos, who has had two mini-concerts at Josephine’s in Cerritos, belted out Barbra Streisand’s “Somewhere” and Lani Misalucha’s “Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin.” Agnes is Mortgage Advisor of Finance of America Mortgage.
Choreographer and dancer Miren Cancio and the Kaibigan Pilipinas Dance Troupe entertained guests with “Maglalatik,” a mock-war dance demonstrating a fight between the Moros and the Christians over the prized latik or coconut meat during the Spanish rule. Their “Tinikling” number was interactive, inviting Councilmembers Rachelle Arizmendi and Jed Leano to dance with the group.
Members are students from different high schools in Fontana and Corona (Eastvale); Cal State San Bernardino and UC Riverside.
In keeping with the evening’s theme, their last number was the Charleston, choreographed by Kenia Pineda. Charleston was iconic of the “Roaring Twenties” era and a favorite dance in the United States, especially in the 1920s. And the students mastered the Charleston toes-in, heels-out twisting steps, as well as the fast-paced swinging of the legs and the big arm movements.
Other performers were Richard Layos, EJ Zuniga, Camille Justiano, and Alexi Balanzio.
DJs for the evening were Gil Sadorra (new member) and Ron de la Cruz while another new member, Joseph Obligacion, took care of videography.

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