Orange County joined the rest of the nation in highlighting the role of Asian American and Pacific Islanders by recognizing the visionary spirit that serve as community role models at the South Coast Plaza, a commercial complex known for being an international shopping destination which had generously made its resources available for the annual commemoration for years.
The May 31 event brought together by local organizations and their partners made the May celebration known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, one that showcased the celebration of culture, traditions, and history of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the county of 34 cities. The awardees had their moments of recognition for their exemplary effort to succeed in their respective ventures.
These community role models who have joined their peers in receiving the Diversity Visionary Awards which recognized their abilities to compete in the highly competitive environment of Orange County whose demographics represent tapestry of cultural and entrepreneurial mix.
Joining in the efforts to recognize in acknowledging the achievements of the awardees who serve as role models for going the extra mile in the pursuit of their passions for the second year are the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, the Friends of Thailand International Network, the Hong Kong Association of Southern California, and their community partners like the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, and the Asian Business Association of Orange County.
Honored for their entrepreneurial contributions were: Kwang Yul Choi, CEO of ENC, Inc., Dr. Quynh Kieu, Founder, Project Vietnam; Dej “Nokweed” Sri-Ampai, co-founder of the Muay Thai School, USA and Wilson Tang, Treasurer, Hong Kong Association of Southern California.
Chair of this year’ event was Ngoc Tinh Nguyen.
Gia Ly and Derrick Hoang Nguyen co-emceed this year’s event. Gia is an entrepreneur who co-owns Crepe Corner and the family-owned Zen Vegetarian Restaurant in Westminster. She also owns Arrow GTP, a company that works with Google which produces virtual interior tours of buildings on Google Map. She is also the president of Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. Nguyen, her co-emcee hosts Viet TV’s Nguyen Hoang Dung Show and the New Saigon Radio.
Other highlights of the event included a fashion show by Christine Design and an array of cultural presentations by participating countries.
Not to be left out, the Philippines was aptly represented in the cultural extravaganza by singing champion, Jo Awayan, whose talent and passion for her craft her makes her “one of the best Filipino artists around town.”
The celebration honoring the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States dates back to June 1977 when Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House Resolution proclaiming the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate a month later by Senators Daniel Inouye. The month of May was chosen to “commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843 and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 where majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”
In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month. May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage two years later.