BY LYDIA V. SOLIS
ON NOVEMBER 17, 2011, at a special meeting of the Kalayaan Incorporated, the Board held its annual election for the 2012 set of Officers.
As President of the Board, Mr. Antero Pagunsan will also be the 2012 Kalayaan Celebrations Event Overall Chairman continuing the tradition that has been in place for Kalayaan. Information about 2012 Kalayaan Celebrations Event will be available by December 1, 2011.
â€œFor over 113 years,â€ says 2010 Kalayaan Overall Chairman Gil Mislang, â€œthe Filipino American community around the world has paid special tribute every year on June 12th, the day in 1898 when Filipinos achieved independence from Spain. In the hearts of all Filipinos, this day signifies national pride and makes us all proud of the accomplishments in our proud history.
â€œIn Southern California, many organizations band together to celebrate this historic date to showcase our pride for our heritage, culture and freedom and for the last 30 years it was done with the cooperation and guidance of the Philippine Consulate Generalâ€™s Office. Every year since 1979 the Southern California groups that organize this yearly celebration called it Kalayaan and the organizing groups referred to themselves as the Kalayaan Committee or the Philippine Independence Day Celebrations Committee.
â€œIn recognizing the need for an organized effort to plan and maintain the annual celebration a small group of individuals banded together to bring its performance to a higher state of excellence and community pride. This association is now known as Kalayaan Incorporated and is composed of long-time community leaders who have been active in Southern Californiaâ€™s Filipino community and in its many previous Kalayaan Day celebrations. Kalayaan Incorporated is governed by a Board of Directors and Officers.â€
Members of the Board of Directors for 2012 are:Â Mr. Joe Arciaga, a Registered Nurse Workers Compensation Case Manager, is co-founder and Executive Director of the Fil-Am Chamber of Commerce LA, and also serves on the FilAm ARTS Board. He is a US Army Desert Storm veteran.
Mrs. Naomi P. Armada founded the Philippine Heritage Institute International, an association that recognizes the contributions of Filipino American nurses as well as outstanding community leaders. PHIâ€™s focus is youth development.
Mr. Jose â€œJoeâ€ Merton, President of the Confederation of FIL-AM Associations of Carson, is also President of the Philippine Independence Day Foundation which holds the largest annual City celebration of Philippine Independence Day in Southern California.
Mr. Noel Omega, Kalayaan Overall Chairman 2008, is President Emeritus of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles, VP of the Federation of Philippine American Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Camiling and Leyte-Samar Associations.
Mr. Leovigildo â€œLeoâ€ Maranan, Kalayaan 2011 Overall Chairman, was founder and President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce Los Angeles and the President of the Rotary Club of Granada Hills.
Mr. Hermenegildo â€œGilâ€ Mislang, Kalayaan 2010 Overall Chairman, was President of the Pangasinan Brotherhood USA, President of Philippine Disaster Relief Organization and National Vice President of Philippine Scouts Heritage Society.
Mr. Joveno â€œBingâ€ De la Vega is the founder of the Philippine Disaster Relief Organization widely known in the community as PeDRO and is also a past President of the Pangasinan Brotherhood USA. Mr. De la Vega has been instrumental in developing the ByLaws for Kalayaan Incorporated and is married to Ambassador Ma. Hellen Barber De La Vega, who is presently posted as the Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar.
Mrs. Josie E. De Jesus, President of the Philippine Heritage Institute International is credited for leading recognition events for