Tony Taguba, Connie Mariano headline FANHS’s 15th biennial conference

The author with retired U. S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba (right)

The author with retired U. S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba (right)

By Gerald G. Gubatan

More than 350 Filipino Americans convened in San Diego’s Kona Kai Resort from July 31 to August 2 for the Filipino American National Historical Society’s (FANHS) 15th Biennial Conference.

There were more than 60 workshops and discussion panels on a variety of historical, cultural and research topics were available to participants.

Founded in 1987, FAHNS currently has 30 chapters across 16 states. Its mission is to promote understanding, education, enlightenment, appreciation and enrichment through the identification, gathering, preservation and dissemination of the history and culture of Filipinos in the United States.

A featured speaker was retired U. S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba, one of the highest ranking Filipino Americans in the U. S. Army. He spoke about the “Filipino American World War II Soldiers’ Recognition Project” that seeks a Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino American veterans.

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marissa Aroy joined Johnny Itliong, son of labor leader Larry Itliong, and California State Assembly Member Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to the State Legislature, to share their perspectives on preserving the legacy of Filipino American leaders in the labor movement following a screening of her documentary, “The Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the UFW.”

The gala banquet keynote speaker was Dr. Eleanor Concepcion “Connie” Mariano, former personal physician to three presidents, including Bill Clinton. She became the first Filipino American in history to become a Navy Admiral. Born in Sangley Point, Philippines, and the eldest daughter of a career Navy enlisted serviceman, Mariano gave an inspirational speech encouraging listeners to be open to new opportunities, to embrace their Filipino values while adapting to American culture and to be humble yet proud as Filipinos.

Gerald G. Gubatan is the youngest son of a manong who came to Los Angeles’ Little Manila in 1929, and a Pinay, 20 years his junior, who had traveled alone on a boat to America, seeking a graduate education. Later, as a widow, she raised four teenagers in the largest Filipino neighborhood of Downtown Los Angeles. When Gubatan was 15 years old, he lost his father, but he never lost his connection to the old neighborhood. A proud graduate of Belmont High School, Gubatan attended the University of California, Los Angeles and became an urban planner. He served on the founding board of the Pamana Foundation (later the Filipino American Library); is founding board president of Fil Am Arts, Inc.; and is former board president of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans. He was one of the presenters at the conference.

From left,  Johnny Itliong, Marissa Aroy, FANHS Conference Coordinator Dr. Judy Patacsil, and Assembly Member Rob Bonta after the screening of ‘The Delano Manongs’

From left, Johnny Itliong, Marissa Aroy, FANHS Conference Coordinator Dr. Judy Patacsil, and Assembly Member Rob Bonta after the screening of ‘The Delano Manongs’

red line

red line



Leave a Reply