Bridge Generation News

(Due to increasing death rates, the number of living Bridge Generation members are rapidly decreasing. Another in a series remembering a deceased Bridge Generation Filipino American) Val Laigo 1930-1992 – modernist artist, educator, and activist: A prolific artist, Val produced an impressive array of works, ranging from paintings to murals to mosaics.  Among his major creations:  (1) The painting “Dilemma of an Atom” (1954), featuring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, reflected his anti-war views.  It was later chosen as a cover for an RCA Victor classical album.  (2) Commissioned by the Rev. Albert A. Lemieux, Seattle University President, to a create a painting for the new library in 1964, Val painted a three-piece mural stretching 65 feet. For many years the mural, depicting the meaning of life in terms of Jesuit ethos, was the city’s largest.  (3) “East is West” (1981) (pictured above), a three-paneled concrete and steel-reinforced mosaic that proudly anchors Dr. Jose Rizal Park, adjacent to the Rizal Bridge connection to the Chinatown/International District. Its concrete slabs are covered with multi-colored tile and glass with holes shaped into crescent moons, stars, and flowers.  The mosaic artwork aptly represents the migration of Filipinos and other Asians to Seattle. In commenting on the mosaic Val said, “You know the saying, east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet? The twain have met and they met in Seattle.”  Near the end of his life, 42 of his paintings from 1950-92 were exhibited.  Less than a month later, on Dec. 11, 1992 Val died at his Seattle home. He was born with a congenital heart condition diagnosed as Eisenmenger’s Complex—two holes in the ventricles of his heart that mixed the bad blood with the good, making him a “blue baby”. Doctors said he wouldn’t live past his 15th birthday.  Although his heart condition would result in various crises during his life, Val obviously proved the doctors’ prognoses wrong. Like other young Filipino Americans during the Great Depression, he toiled in the hot fields of agriculture; like other pinoy youngsters living in cities at the time, he also worked as a dishwasher, busboy and pantry man; and like other young men during the Korean War, he served in the military.  Val worked as an Alaska cannery worker during summers from 1951 to 1953 to support his college education, ending with his graduation from Seattle University in 1954. Post-graduate work was at Mexico City College in 1956-57 where he met his wife, Austreberta (Chata) Garrido Laigo, and the University of Washington where he received a Masters of Fine Arts in 1964.  Val began his professional career as an artist in the editorial department at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1952. From 1959 to 1963, he was art director for the Boeing Research Laboratories and in 1965 he became a faculty member in the Department of Fine Arts at Seattle University. Val did not neglect his community and was often in the forefront of civil rights issues, particularly through his affiliation with the Filipino Youth Activities and the Filipino American National Historical Society.  Other community activities: Filipino Catholic Youth, the Filipino Community of Seattle, the Seattle Youth Service Center, and editor of the magazine Orientale. Val was an internationally known artist who always had time for his community……………….. An enthusiastic gathering of well-wishers crowded into the Impact Hub in Oakland CA on April 27 to bid farewell to long time social justice activist Lillian Galedo – retiring as Executive Director of the Filipino Advocates for Justice after more than 37 years.  A diverse crowd was on hand to celebrate her for “a job well done” — former and present clients, health/human service executives and staff members, government officials, labor union members, politicians, Filipino community folks, FAJ staffers, relatives, and friends……………. It was with personal anticipation to begin reading “The Manila House” by Titchie Carandang-Tiongson in the May 10 edition of online magazine Positively Filipino.  Why? As an awe-struck 15 year old country boy in 1945, the Manila House was where I met famed World War II Filipino hero Carlos Romulo and esteemed author Benvenido Santos.  (At the time I was spending the summer with my uncle, Silverio Madelo, a resident of the nation’s capital after immigrating to America in 1929.)  Acquired by the Visayan Club in 1937 and having the distinction today as the only Filipino building in D.C. designated as an historical site, the Manila House was a popular gathering place for Filipinos during WWII– for the notable and not so famous alike.  Among its regular customers were also cab drivers, students, writers, musicians, servicemen, federal employees, pensionados, and Philippine government employees…………….. Your faithful blogger was privileged to speak on Honoring the Bridge Generation, the theme of the annual picnic of the Central Valley Chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society, at Merced’s Lake Yosemite on May 7.  A good time was had by all as picnickers feasted on traditional Filipino offerings like adobo, sarciado, dinuguan, and biko.……………… Happy July Birthdays: Rosita (Adlao) Amen, Rudy Modelo, Lydia (Antiporda) Galian, Dan Inosanto, Gilda Lum, Gloria (Magpiong) Salac, Candido Oyog, Riz Raymundo.

Pinakbet – News Across America

My daughter, Julie Jamero-Hada, and I were among the audience that thoroughly enjoyed the all-Filipino cast as they sang and danced virtually non-stop in the show “Here Lies Love” on May 20 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. According to Playbill, the musical created by David Byrne and DJ Fatboy Slim that centers around the life of former Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos, is getting rave reviews at its Seattle run.  It was originally scheduled to run only to May 28 but was extended for a few more weeks because of high demand.  A different version from the original Broadway run was tested in Seattle.  It did not have traditional seating.  Instead, the musical was set within a dance club atmosphere on the main floor with the audience moving rhythmically to pop music as they moved among shifting scenes. Balcony and gallery seating was also available for those preferring not to actively participate……………….. A Must Read: “My Family’s Slave” by the late Alex Tizon in the June issue of Atlantic Magazine. His final story, about domestic Eudocia Pulido who served his family for three generations, has generated wide controversy among its readers. Wrote Elisio Art Silva, whose murals focus on the Filipino experience in America, “In the larger picture, her story is the story of the Filipino people’s struggle to overcome objectification and dehumanization”………………… Tessie Guillermo was among the Bay Area’s 2017 Most Influential Women in Business honored in the May 5 edition of the San Francisco Business Times. Now retired, she formerly served as President and CEO of ZeroDivide, a nonprofit foundation focused on digital equity to improve the lives of disadvantaged persons. I was privileged to work closely with the remarkable Tessie when she was CEO of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a national minority health policy and advocacy organization…………….. Allan Bergano‘s lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach was finally settled.  A Federal judge ruled that the city violated Allan’s civil rights and awarded him $175,000 in damages……………. Angela Dimayuga, a 2017 New York City Rising Star Chef, was recently approached by a writer who wanted to interview her for  Dimayuga’s response:  ”As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and a president that slyly disparages female empowerment.”………………. On May 24 Seattle civil rights activist Frank Irigon was honored by the Metropolitan King County Council with the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service……………… U.S. Navy Captain Ronald Ravelo became the first Filipino American to command an aircraft carrier after being named as commanding officer of the USS Abraham Lincoln…………. On May 22 California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Benjamin Reyes to the Contra Costa County Superior Court — the first Filipino American to serve on the Contra Costa County bench…………….. Another Filipino owned winery — Cheryl (Villalobos) and Josh West are the owners/operators of the “Elephant Seven Winery” in the southeastern Washington city of Walla Walla……………… You know Filipina Americans have come a long way when two pinays vie for a national boxing championship.  Jacqueline Ines, representing the University of Washington, and Heather Parcasio of the Air Force Academy fought it out for the 125-pound division of the National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships in April.  No. 1 seeded Jacqueline prevailed in the action packed three round bout.


So proud of my old home town -  In May Livingston CA became the first town in Merced County, and perhaps in the entire agricultural rich San Joaquin Valley, to adopt a “sanctuary city” resolution. Similar to those passed in other American cities, the resolution restricts Livingston police from sharing information with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security)………………. Countdown: 8 months – For the Board of Trustees, Filipino American National Historical Society, to provide critically needed financing to ensure keeping open the FANHS National Museum in Stockton CA — the historic center of Filipino immigration.