HISTORIC FILIPINOTOWN – The long-awaited Filipinotown Eastern Gateway in Los Angeles will finally be installed and inaugurated this May.
This was announced by the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, in partnership with Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents Historic Filipinotown on the Los Angeles City Council.
The unveiling is in time for the celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, according to the announcement sent to Philippine News Today.
Filipinos and Filipino Americans lauded the project considering that one of the founders of the City of Los Angeles was a Filipino.
“After many years, countless meetings, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I’m proud to share that the Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway will be installed and unveiled this spring,” said Councilmember O’Farrell in a statement sent to Philippine News Today.
“This project has been a labor of love by so many people in Historic Filipinotown. This beautiful, historic landmark will be a source of pride for the Filipino community, and will rightfully celebrate this vibrant neighborhood and the incredible contributions Filipino Americans make to the City of Los Angeles.”
The gateway, officially called “Talang Gabay – Our Guiding Star,” was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles and has a construction cost of $587,000. It will rise 30 feet high and span 82 feet across the width of Beverly Boulevard, at the eastern entrance into Historic Filipinotown.
The project is being delivered by the Bureau of Engineering and features the work of Filipino artists Eliseo Art Silva with Celestino Geronimo, Jr. The gateway has numerous design elements, including: the Parol; the Gumamela flower which is the hibiscus, which pays tribute to frontline workers; and the Sarimanok. All are symbols have deep roots in Filipino culture.
“The key to building and enhancing the beautiful neighborhood we all know as Historic Filipinotown has always been community. The community has long advocated for more visibility and was committed to bringing the Eastern Gateway to life. Thanks to our community partners and leaders like Mayor Garcetti and Councilmember O’Farrell, we are almost at the finish line,” said Commissioner Jessica Caloza, City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works.
“As a first generation immigrant, I am proud the City of L.A. celebrates our rich diversity and continues to invest in projects that uplift underrepresented communities,” Caloza added.
The effort to install a landmark at the eastern entrance to Historic Filipinotown has been in the works for nearly two decades, beginning with a community study of Historic Filipinotown improvements commissioned in March 2003 by then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti.
When Councilmember O’Farrell took office in 2013, he worked with the Filipino American community to continue many improvements that were being advocated for by local stakeholders, including: the restoration of the “Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana (A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy)” mural at Unidad Park, HiFi Highlights, beautification of the HiFi Western Gateway, and to identify funding for the Eastern Gateway.
In 2018, through Council motion, Councilmember O’Farrell committed an initial $152,000 for the Eastern Gateway Project and then identified additional funding that would pave the way for completing this historic landmark. With full funding finally secured, the community helped guide the process which led to design renderings that were released in June 2020. Construction began in March 2021.
Over the years, the project has involved many community leaders and community-based organizations, such as the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), Filipino American Service Group Inc (FASGI), and the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council.
“Our community finally had a ‘win’ in 2002, when the City Council, under the leadership of then-Councilmember Eric Garcetti, officially designated a 2.5 square mile area just west of downtown Los Angeles as Historic Filipinotown,” said Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal, community leader and Building and Safety Commissioner with the City of Los Angeles.
Geaga-Rosenthal added: “20 years later, we have another win: a majestic Eastern Gateway to Historic Filipinotown will rise on Beverly Boulevard! This was hard won – the result of 40 years of community advocacy getting key champions along the way, including this chapter today, from the City of Los Angeles and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.”
“Pilipino Workers Center is excited and proud of being a part of the collective process to make this HiFi gateway project a reality!” said Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director of Pilipino Workers Center (PWC). “It really took a robust collaboration of community and city officials to accomplish the completion of the eastern HiFi gateway project.
“The gateway is a great project for creating visibility for the Filipino American community in HiFi and Los Angeles. That visibility gives organizations like PWC more power to lift up the issues our community is facing,” Versoza added.
“2022 is a huge year for SIPA and Historic Filipinotown. Not only are we celebrating 20 years of the Historic Filipinotown designation, but SIPA is also celebrating our 50th anniversary,” said Kimmy Maniquis, Executive Director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA).
“The Talang Gabay gateway is a beautiful symbol of a neighborhood that holds great significance to Filipino Americans in Los Angeles and we are proud to have been part of the process,” Maniquis said.
” As SIPA opens our community center on Temple Street later this year, we celebrate with the City of Los Angeles and our fellow legacy organizations in creating long-standing cultural markers that will honor the Filipino American community for generations to come,” he said.
“Our community has been waiting for this for so long, and we are so excited,” said Cecile Ramos, community leader and President of the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council. “Dreams do come true! As someone who has lived and worked in this neighborhood for many years, I am grateful that our beautiful community is being celebrated for its contributions to our great city.”
As the City of Los Angeles prepares for the opening of the Eastern Gateway, stakeholders are encouraged to view a 3D model of the installation, which is on display in Councilmember O’Farrell’s District Office located at 1722 Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. (Jo Erlinda Maufit)