A massive arch marking the east entrance to Los Angeles’ historic Filipinotown will be officially unveiled Saturday at a community celebration with music and dance performances and speeches from elected officials, including Atty. General Rob Bonta, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.
The Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway – officially called “Talang Gabay: Our Guiding Star” – spans Beverly Boulevard near the 1st Street Bridge. The 30-foot-tall, 82-foot-wide steel arch is the largest of its kind in the country, according to a news release. It is intended to serve as a monument to the Filipino American community, which is one of the largest Asian American groups in California but has never had the visibility of the Chinese, Japanese, or Korean populations.
“This community so deserves such an iconic and awe-inspiring monument,” O’Farrell said in a recent statement. “The Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway pays a fitting tribute to the incredible contributions of the Filipino community in Los Angeles and beyond.
The arch, which was designed by artists Eliseo Art Silva and Celestino Geronimo Jr., features cultural symbols like the speecha star-shaped lantern exhibited by Filipinos during Christmas time, and the gumamela, or hibiscus, flower, meant to honor frontline workers. It is surmounted by ancient mythological figures, including the sarimanoka bird that guides the harvest seasons, and the Nagaa serpent-like dragon associated with lunar and solar eclipses.
Officials said earlier in the year that the arch would contain a QR code for an online walking tour highlighting cultural landmarks in the neighborhood.
The project was spearheaded by Jessica Caloza, the first Filipina American from the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, who wanted to fulfill the long-standing wishes of some other members of the community.
“The Historic Filipinotown Eastern Gateway project has been in the works for nearly two decades,” Caloza said in a statement in April, when the arch was installed. “It is a monument not only for the Filipino and Asian community, but for all immigrant communities who come to Los Angeles to build a life and a home.”
The celebration is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. with music and community stalls on Beverly Boulevard and Belmont Avenue. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and the catwalk lights will be on at 6:50 p.m. Beverly Boulevard will be closed from Union Avenue to Bixel Street for the event.
Filipino Americans settled in the area after being relocated from their original neighborhood, called Little Manila, on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles after World War II to make way for massive redevelopment projects such as the 101 and 110 highways. At the time, restrictive racial pacts limited where Filipinos could live.
Historic Filipinotown is now predominantly Latino, with a Filipino American population of approximately 15%. Even so, it remains an important commercial and cultural center for Filipinos in the region.
Some community members fear that gentrification will do to Historic Filipinotown what post-war public works projects did to Little Manila, as luxury apartments sprout where shopping malls once stood and people once lived working-class Filipino families.
Amid the changes, those who helped create the monument hope it will give a new generation of Filipino Americans a better understanding of their culture and history.
“The Talang Gabay Walkway is a beautiful symbol of a neighborhood that means so much to Filipino Americans in Los Angeles, and we are proud to have been part of the process,” Kimmy Maniquis, executive director of the nonprofit nonprofit Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, said in a recent statement. “As SIPA opens our Community Center on Temple Street later this year, we celebrate with the City of Los Angeles and our other legacy organizations in creating long-standing cultural markers that will honor the Filipino American community for generations to come. »
Los Angeles Times