Bridge Generation News

BG Personality of the Month, Sam Gonzalez:  Sam, 79, has been involved with the Filipino community for the fifty-seven years I’ve known him.  He attended Filipino Youth Club athletic tournaments during the 1960s, served as President of Filipino Action Coalition Today, was the first Vice President of the Central Valley Chapter of FANHS, and was a regular participant at old timer Grand Reunions.  So imagine my surprise when I learned these associations with fellow BG Filipino Americans only came after he became an adult.  As a youth he spent most of his life with his father, the manong friends of his father, or with non-Filipinos – rarely with FAs his own age.  Sam was born on December 2, 1938 in San Francisco, the only child of Samuel Gonzalez, Sr. and Isabel Wightman, a Caucasian co-worker of his father at the posh Saratoga Inn in San Jose CA, where his father was chef.  He never knew his mother as she left the family when Sam was an infant.  Fifty years separate Sam and his father.  With such a long span of time, one would not expect a close relationship to develop.  Nevertheless, Sam attributes whatever success he may have achieved in life to the love he received from his father.  “His love for me was never in doubt,” said Sam, adding, “He told me every chance he could that he loved me.” But the life his father led did not make it easy for their relationship to thrive.  While his father never had a problem getting a job, he had a penchant for changing positions frequently.  With his father’s many job changes, Sam often lived in different towns as a boy. When he was twelve he was finally able to live in one place after his father resumed work at the Saratoga Inn – a time he described as “the happiest years of my life.”  Grateful to stay in one school, Sam took advantage of his years at Los Gatos High School where he made the swimming team.  Following high school graduation, he enrolled at San Jose State.  His father had saved enough money to pay for his entire college education.  However, it was all gone by the end of his first year — for “parties and girls” according to Sam.  Chastened by his immature behavior, he enlisted in the Air Force.  He emerged from his honorable discharge ready to resume his college education at SJS in 1961.  There, he met and shortly after married Nina Dublin, a fetching pinay from the rural community of Hilmar CA.  Sam went on to a successful career in art design.  After getting his start with a Cleveland, Ohio greeting card company, he formed his own design company in San Francisco.  From there he served as art director for the Modesto Bee, a daily newspaper in California’s Central Valley, for nineteen years before retiring in 1997.  In Modesto he volunteered for his community as an officer and board member of the local non-profit United Way.  Downsizing from their beautiful home in Turlock after their two daughters, Shelley and Celeste married, Sam and Nina recently moved into a retirement community in nearby Manteca…………….. Most everyone knows of Louis Armstrong, the world famous jazz trumpeter, but few realize that his drummer for decades was a Filipino American.  The drummer — Hawaiian-born Danny Barcelona (July 23, 1929 – April 1, 2007) — appeared on more than 130 of Armstrong’s recordings……………. The late Emile Urbiztondo who played with the legendary San Francisco Filipino Mango Athletic Club championship basketball teams during the 1950s has a worthy scion in his son Josh, 34.  The SF native — point guard with several Philippine Basketball Association teams — garnered honors as PBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, All-Rookie Team in 2010, and All-Star team in 2012.  Josh is currently starring for the Tanduay team with the Asean Basketball League…………… The life of Ben Villaruz, 91, was celebrated by family and friends on December 9 at his memorial services in San Jose.  From a family of eight, only Art of Merced CA and Primo of Seattle — both in their 80s — survive.  In honor of his brother, Art composed and performed a beautiful song “Together We Are Here” at the memorial services………………. Milestone wedding anniversaries:  Abe and Rosita “Daday” (Adlao) Amen of Stockton, who I’ve known since we were kids, celebrated their 60th Anniversary along with with family and friends on November 30.  Manuel and Ann Carmencita Viernes celebrated their Golden Anniversary in Sacramento on November 25.  I’ve known Manuel since his single days when we bowled on the same Filipino Bowling League team in 1957………………. Happy February Birthdays: Alex Aguinid, Lydia (Antiporda) Galian, Gloria (Carido) Nomura, Dorothy (Laigo) Cordova, Bob Flor, Lillian Galedo, Rosalie (Salutan) Marquez, Ray Quitiquit, Larry Samson, Joyce (Tibon) Balandra.

Pinakbet — News Across America

Robert “Bobby” Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez of Brooklyn NY composed the song “Remember Me” for the movie “Coco” –  already a three-time 2018 awards winner (Golden Globes, Producers Guild, and Screen Actors Guild) and favorite for this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Motion Picture. The talented couple also wrote songs for feature films “Winnie the Pooh (2011)” and “Frozen (2013)”. Manhattan born Lopez is the award winning co-creator of smash-hit Broadway musicals “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon”, and the youngest at 42 of only twelve people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony — joining luminaries that include composers Richard Rodgers, Marvin Hamlisch, and Mel Brooks; and actresses Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, and Whoopie Goldberg………………….. Daly City CA elected a Filipina American Juslyn Manalo, 37, as its new mayor on December  11 — the first pinay mayor in the city’s history. Ray Buenaventura was named as Vice Mayor. The Bay Area city at 35% boasts the highest percentage of Filipinos of any mid-sized city in America. Four of the five Daly City council members are Filipino — Manalo, Buenaventura and incumbents Glenn Sylveste and Mike Guingona………….. Thousands mourned the untimely December 12 death of two-term San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, 65, as he lay in state at the City Hall rotunda.  A friend of the SF Filipino community, he earmarked $150,000 for the Filipino Cultural Heritage District (SOMA Pilipinas) and championed the use of the old U.S. Mint building for the monthly Filipino Night Market. He was a member of a Seattle Chinese American family who were civil rights activists during the 1970s while Ed was doing likewise in San Francisco. Before ever meeting Ed, I was already well acquainted with his brother Edmon and his Filipina American wife, the former Susan Rivera.  I came to know the future SF mayor when I served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission during the early 1990s and Ed was then Mayor Art Agnos’ liaison to HRC.  After my resignation from HRC, Mayor Agnos appointed Ed as my successor……………… The latest work by muralist Eliseo Art Silva, a 4,000 sq. ft. Colton Crossings Mural, includes a depiction of the 1965 Coachella Valley Grape Strike led by noted union leader Larry Itliong……………… For those visiting the Filipino American Historical Museum in Stockton, I suggest stopping two doors down for lunch at Papa Urb’s Grill. The lechon kawali, BBQ pork belly, and  sisig are to die for — as well as standbys like adobo and pancit………….. FA History Trivia: What is the name of the island where the first Filipino settlement in the continental U.S. is located?


Countdown: 1 month — For the Board of Trustees, Filipino American National Historical Society, to provide critically needed financing to assure keeping open the FANHS National Museum in Stockton — the historic center of Filipino immigration………………. I’ve had it with Donald Trump’s racist rants.  In an immigration meeting with seven Congressmen on January 11, he repeatedly referred to the continent of Africa and the countries of Haiti and El Salvador as shitholes – preferring immigrants from Norway.  The only Democrat at the meeting, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, condemned Trump’s use of the vulgar word — adding that much of Trump’s language at the meeting was “hateful, vile, and racist.” South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also expressed his disapproval.  The five other Republican Congressmen at the meeting “did not remember” hearing the racist remarks, changed their positions, or refrained commenting.  Trump’s racist tirade generated immediate condemnation in America and throughout the world. This is his latest racist rant in a long list of diatribes against people of color.  Remember? He: (1) was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination in his hotels, (2) initiated the “Obama birther” myth, (3) called Mexicans rapists, (4) banned Muslims from the U.S., (5) refused to condemn white supremacists at Charlottesville, and (6) Failed to provide Puerto Ricans with adequate humanitarian disaster assistance after Hurricane Maria. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson ended America’s shameful immigration system that limited immigration to white countries. Today, we have a president who calls people of color countries shitholes and wants to limit immigration only to white countries. Enough is enough — Donald Trump is NOT MY PRESIDENT. (As of this writing, Congress has temporarily ended a government shutdown while it seeks a solution to immigration; the President is not a part of the conciliatory process.) 



  1. Pete,
    Thanks for the article including Sam in your February blog. Sam says “wow, how nice”. We are blessed to have you as one of our favorite friends. BTW Sam’s fathers name is Cecil Gonzalez, that’s what the “C” is for in Sam’s name.

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