Filipinos, Latinos collaborate on re-dedicating Silva mural in Historic Filipinotown

Filipinos and Latinos join in Northern Philippines tribal dance in Unidad Park's ‘dap-ay’ after mural re-dedication ceremony.  Photo by Gerald Gubatan

Filipinos and Latinos join in Northern Philippines tribal dance in Unidad Park’s ‘dap-ay’ after mural re-dedication ceremony. Photo by Gerald Gubatan

By Gerald Gubatan

Filipinos and Latinos came together October 18 at Unidad Park and Garden in Historic Filipinotown Los Angeles to witness the unveiling of an interpretive panel for “Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana: A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy,” the largest mural depicting Filipino American history and culture. It was painted by Eliseo Art Silva in 1995.

The panel offers educational information on the mural which faces an urban pocket park operated by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust.

Joel Jacinto, executive director of the non-profit Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), pointed to the site’s significance in Filipino American history. In the 1970s, the Filipino Alumni House occupied the site. In 1992, following the city’s civil unrest, the U. S. Department of Agriculture awarded a grant to SIPA to establish a community garden with the support and agreement of the then-property owner, Dr. Carmen Chuateco. Then in 1994, SIPA partnered with Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) and muralist Eliseo Silva to produce the iconic Filipino American mural.

Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, a lecturer with California State Fullerton’s Asian American Studies Program, recounted her days as a Field Deputy to former Council Member Jackie Goldberg when she was actively involved with the development of the original community garden which was tended by elderly Filipino men. The garden was planted with all sorts of vegetables and peanuts. The site’s perimeter was covered with banana trees (saba variety). In the 1990s, she joined garden cleanups with volunteer students from college campuses throughout California.

In 2011, she recruited her Asian American Studies students when the mural was restored. Here is a video of the 2011 restoration.

Silva shared the feeling of validation he has received over the years for one of his proudest works painted as a young 22-year-old immigrant. He once encountered school children playing at the park. One said, “You see that woman in yellow (Cory Aquino), she’s Rosa Parks. And you see that the face of the man in glasses (Larry Itliong), he’s Martin Luther King.”

Los Angeles City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell graced the ceremony. In the decade of the 2000s, the City of Los Angeles played a role in acquiring the land and constructing the park in partnership with the Land Trust.

Everyone present thanked the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust for making the site a permanent green space for the entire community to enjoy.

Press and community leaders visit the re-dedicated ‘Gintong Kasaysayan’ mural.  From left: Singer-writer Lou Sabas, stage and movie actor Muni Zano, Philippine News Columnist Ludy Ongkeko, Beverly Hills Courier manager Evelyn Portugal, TFLA Publisher Dante Ochoa, TFLA editor Cecile Ochoa.  Photo by TeTBee

Press and community leaders visit the re-dedicated ‘Gintong Kasaysayan’ mural. From left: Singer-writer Lou Sabas, stage and movie actor Muni Zano, Philippine News Columnist Ludy Ongkeko, Beverly Hills Courier manager Evelyn Portugal, TFLA Publisher Dante Ochoa, TFLA editor Cecile Ochoa. Photo by TeTBee

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