Cerritos mayor, FilAm elected officials lead Philippine Independence Day celebration

Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido (left) and Carson Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina. Photo by Cecile Ochoa, TheFilamLA.

Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido (left) and Carson Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina. Photo by Cecile Ochoa, TheFilamLA.

Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim (second from left) with FilAm local officials City of Bellflower Mayor Sonny Santa Ines, Artesia Council Member Victor Manalo  and Carson Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina.  Photo by Lawrence Ochoa

Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim (second from left) with FilAm local officials City of Bellflower Mayor Sonny Santa Ines, Artesia Council Member Victor Manalo and Carson Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina. Photo by Lawrence Ochoa

By Cecile Caguingin Ochoa

A strong contingency of Filipino American officials, led by Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido, marked for the first time this city’s celebration June 14 of the 116th declaration of Philippine Independence Day from Spain.

Bellflower Mayor Sonny Santa Ines, Carson Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina, Artesia Councilmember Victor Manalo and ABC Unified School district Board Member Armin Reyes joined Pulido in representing the growing political clout of this ethnic group in the west.

Cerritos, 19 miles south of Los Angeles, is composed of majority of Asians (61.9 percent) where Filipinos make up 14.6 percent. Its population last year was 49,041.

Addressing a crowd of about 300, mostly longtime residents, including his wife Gloria Perlas Pulido, his mom Esther and son Mark Jr., Pulido said it has been his growing-up dream to one day see his city recognize the significance of this important event in Philippine history.

“It marked the country’s determination to be free from a colonial power, Spain. They inspire us, sons and daughters of immigrants to carry on the ideals of this country to always aspire for freedom,” said Pulido who acknowledged the support of the Cerritos City council members who were present.

Pulido is among the youngest Filipino Americans who have stayed visible in campus and community politics in the last 30 years. He led his alma mater UCLA as the first Filipino American elected Student Body president. He actively lobbied for equity for benefits for the ageing Filipino veterans; affirmative action and most recently the re-writing of American textbooks to include the important contributions of the “manongs” in the U.S. labor movement side by side with Cesar Chavez.

At the Cerritos celebration, Pulido awarded relatives of Filipino heroes and revolutionaries, including those of the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal; General Artemio Ricarte, the father of the Philippine Army; and Ladislao Diwa, the first civil governor in Cavite. He presented the city’s proclamation of leadership to Rene Rizal, Romeo Ricarte and Marvin Diwa, all community leaders in Cerritos.

The mayor’s mother, Esther, noted that her family has been 52-year residents of Cerritos and that this celebration is the culmination of a personal goal to get her community this distinction.

“This event is symbolic of our ‘bayanihan spirit,’ that we can pull together something as grand an event like this,” she said.

She said further that raising a kid as politically active like Mark came spontaneous as his son learned about his heritage and cultural identity very early on. “He saw the importance of getting his community’s needs and aspirations in the mainstream agenda,” said Mrs. Pulido.

Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim brought out loud cheers from the attendees after he said that it is about time to have a Filipino American in Congress, in the person of Pulido.

Cultural presentations from groups, including the Philippine cultural school, Filipino Senior Citizens of Cerritos, Whitney High school club, Kaibigan, added color and music to the celebration.

The women of Cerritos, led by the mayor’s wife, Gloria Pulido at left. Photo by Cecile Ochoa, TheFilamLA

The women of Cerritos, led by the mayor’s wife, Gloria Pulido at left. Photo by Cecile Ochoa, TheFilamLA

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