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City of West Covina officials and friends welcome Consul General Cruz
Photo by Andy Edralin/FAPCCA
Consul General Cruz
Photo by Andy Edralin/FAPCCA
WEST COVINA, CA – “It’s the warmest welcome I’ve received,” announced L.A.’s Consul General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz on July 25, at the City Hall courtyard here.
Effectively planned by Atty. Abraham Lim and former West Covina Mayor, Councilmember James Toma, the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Tri-County (Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties) coordinated the tribute for Congen Cruz. Lim is an FACC Tri-County board member and also the legal counsel; president is Merwynn Montenegro.
The visit of Congen Cruz to West Covina coincided with the commemoration of the 17th anniversary of ‘Manila Way,’ a street on Azusa Ave., north of Amar Rd., which connects the east and west malls populated by predominantly Filipino-American businesses.
In 1998, the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, founded by financial adviser Linda S. Cruz in the mid-90s, petitioned the city to name a street Manila Way. On July 11, 2000, the City Council approved a resolution naming Manila Way and the traffic sign was put up three months later. It made Santos very happy although she was actually pushing then to have the Amar/Azusa corridor designated as Little Manila. She’s optimistic though that Little Manila will still happen.
Manila Way, connecting FilAm businesses on Azusa Ave
Prior to the evening reception, Congen Cruz was invited to meet with City officials and the community at Seafood City Supermarket for photo ops in front of the store where the bust of Dr. Jose P. Rizal is displayed. The original plan was to have the photo ops at the Manila Way site, but safety concerns dictated that another site be chosen. The commemorative bust of the Philippine national hero and martyr was installed on June 6, 1998, in commemoration of the ‘First Centennial of the Declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.’ The patriotic gesture was made possible through the combined efforts and resources of the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Philippine Consulate General, Los Angeles, and Seafood City Supermarket, in cooperation with the FilAm Chamber of Commerce San Gabriel Valley, the FilAm West Covina community, Chow King and Red Ribbon.
City officials and a few friends kept Congen Cruz company during the tour of the northeast mall, visiting various businesses. H e was seen being measured for a barong at Nostalgia, the Barong Tagalog Shoppe and having refreshments, according to Atty. Lim, at the Victory Elite Auto Connect and the Philippine National Bank hosted by Rick Ramos on behalf of FACC Tri County Chamber treasurer Ricky Villacisneros, L.A.’s PNB Remittance Manager.
Consul General Adel Cruz couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception at the City Hall courtyard where more than 100 people were waiting for him. After an invocation by Chamber secretary Ed Cansino, president Merwynn Montenegro introduced Councilman Toma who in turn introduced Mayor Pro Tem Spence. The latter acknowledged the presence of Councilmembers James Toma, Lloyd Johnson and Tony Wu, as well as the other dignitaries present: Commissioner Phil Kaufman, Los Angeles City Colleges District Trustee Mike Eng, Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (48th District) and her sister Susan Rubio, Baldwin Park Mayor Pro Tem; City Manager Chris Freeland, and Assistant City Manager/Community Services Director Nikole Resciani; Monica Farias, President/CEO, Greater West Covina Business Association; and long-missed community advocate, Marissa Castro Salvati, Public Affairs Region Manager, Southern California Edison. Also in attendance were former PH DOT acting director Manny Ilagan and his wife Meg; former Walnut Mayor Tony Cartagena, and a big delegation from the West Covina Masonic Lodge, among many others.
Former PH DOT Director Annie Cuevas-Lim introduced Congen Cruz, who expressed deep appreciation to the City of West Covina, its officials and the community. After the city’s presentation of a certificate to officially welcome Congen Cruz, another presentation, on the lighter side, was done by Raoul Pascual, member of FACC Tri-County. It was a caricature which drew a comment from the Consul General, “I look younger! You can be sure that this is the first thing that people will see when they enter the consulate.”
Closing remarks were delivered by FACCTC board member Abe Pagtama and the program closed with a cultural presentation directed by another Chamber member, Jo Solomonson. The Vessel of Mary Liturgical and Cultural Dance Group, founded in 2010, consists of parishioners from Holy Name of Mary Parish in San Dimas and San Lorenzo Ruiz in Walnut, and former students from St. Joseph School in Pomona. “Its purpose,” said Solomonson, “is to support and provide parish and civic organizations at their events and encourage young people to use their talents positively. VOM has performed at Religious Ed Congress at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, several Sinulog events at many churches, Simbang Gabi and many others,” she said.
Guests savored the appetizing spread, prepared by FACCTC board members Wilma Orendain of Epicure Catering & Food Distribution and her sister Myrna Ramos, while watching performers dance Cariñosa, Binislakan (Pangasinan) and Subli (Batangas).